11 Best Places for Swimming with Whale Sharks
Celebrate International Whale Shark Day by planning a bucket-list trip to swim with the world’s largest fish. Do your research beforehand so you’re assured that the destination and operator you choose have rules that don’t put the endangered sharks at risk.
Mozambique, in east Africa near Madagascar, is home to whale sharks year-round. From around October until February/March, whale sharks frequent the waters off Tofo Beach. It’s near the city of Inhambane, which a Portuguese explorer dubbed Land of Good People (“Terra de Boa Gente”) in the 15th century. The Marine Megafauna Foundation is also based here. From October to April, whale sharks also swim in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Mozambique’s whale shark conservation rules allow scuba diving in addition to snorkeling. When planning your trip, keep in mind that cyclones are more frequent in February. Stay at Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort and you’ll be surrounded by marine life in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
From mid-March to mid-July, whale sharks feed on the spawning corals in the UNESCO-protected Ningaloo Marine Park on the northwest coast of Australia. Visitors can swim with the whale sharks and, in the later part of the season, spot humpback whales, which spend June to November in the area. The resort town of Exmouth has a whale shark research center and a whale shark festival every May. Stay near Exmouth or further south in Coral Bay—our pick is the Ningaloo Reef Resort.
Thailand’s western coast has whale sharks throughout the year, though more are seen between January and April. Whale shark excursions leave from popular Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi, or you could choose to base yourself in places like Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, or the Similan Islands, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Diving and snorkeling with sharks are both allowed in Thailand. In Koh Tao, try Jamahkiri Resort & Spa with snorkeling offshore and an on-site PADI dive center. Before swimming with whale sharks, learn these incredible facts about them.
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