For many divers, the whale shark is the Holy Grail of the underwater world. The world’s biggest fish, the majestic whale shark is a rare sight these days and in order to see one, you have to be in a handful of select dive spots around the world. Which is why whale shark scuba diving holidays are becoming more popular.
Whale sharks can be up to 40 feet long, weigh in excess of 45,000 pounds and live for 80 years. So, you would think they would be relatively easy to spot. In actual fact, they are quite elusive and numbers are dwindling. So, if you want to come face-to-face with one of these very gentle giants this list of the 10 best destinations for whale shark scuba diving holidays will certainly give you the best chance.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands
Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos is one of the true natural wonders of the world. Its waters are also some of the best for diving on the planet. The strong currents at Puerto Ayora make this unsuitable for beginners but you do have a fair chance of glimpsing a whale shark here. The best time to go is between May and October.
Gladden Spit, Belize
The cubera snappers spawning here attract the whale sharks, and the best time to visit is three days either side of a full moon. Divers are required to keep a ten foot distance from the whale sharks at all times and no flash photography is allowed. The best whale shark scuba diving holidays here are in April and May.
Ari and Baa, Maldives
You might not even need scuba gear to see whale sharks in these shallow waters, although it’s still worth diving here. The best time to go is between May and December on the western side and December and April on the eastern side.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Actual scuba diving is not permitted here so you’ll be snorkelling in the water. The beautiful clear waters mean that if you do get lucky, the views will be pretty spectacular. Visit from May to September, although the annual Whale Shark Festival takes place in mid-June.
Cabo San Sebastian, Mozambique
The greatest concentration of whale sharks in Africa gives you a great chance of spotting one here. Mozambique is also a little way off the beaten track for diving so you won’t be fighting any hoards to catch a glimpse. Dive in November to February for the best chance of seeing a whale shark.
One of the few places on earth that whale sharks can be spotted all year round. But you’re just as likely to see one messing around with a snorkel than you are on a full dive. The deeper waters on the north side of the island are the place to go. Look out for flocking sea birds as they often mark the spot.
Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Visit here between April and July and you might catch a glimpse of a whale shark. Waters are suitable for all levels of divers and it also helps that this stretch of Western Australian coastline is simply incredible too.
Honda Bay, Palawan, Philippines
Donsol to the north may be more popular but the whale shark spotting down here is just as good. Dive boats are out scouring the waters for whale sharks at all times or you could even hitch a ride with a local fisherman when the sharks start to group. Here is a great guide to best Philippines dive spots.
Whale sharks migrate past the Seychelles archipelago between September and November each year, with peak sightings occurring in October. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the Seychelles so don’t tell too many people.
Richelieu Rock, Thailand
The home of some of the best diving in Thailand, many divers here are lucky enough to spot whale sharks, although there are many divers here who aren’t too. However, the wealth of other highlights make it a great spot to come and try.
Ultimately, spotting a whale shark relies a lot on luck and being in the right place at the right time. Some divers go for years chasing the elusive fish and other beginners get lucky on their second or third dive. But then that’s part of the fun with diving – you never know what you’re going to get. If sightings were guaranteed it wouldn’t be nearly as much of a thrill.
All you can do is give yourself the best chance of a sighting by visiting as many of the 10 best destinations for whale shark scuba diving holidays.