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What You Need to Know Before Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Riviera Maya

Updated: May 11, 2023

Swimming with whale sharks is an experience of a lifetime that you will never forget. The Riviera Maya, located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse marine life in the world. Whale sharks, the world's largest fish, can be seen here from June to September every year. However, before you head out to swim with these gentle giants, it's important to understand what to expect and the local regulations.


What to Expect When Swimming with Whale Sharks:

These majestic creatures can grow up to 40 feet in length and weigh over 20,000 pounds! Despite their massive size, they are harmless to humans and feed only on plankton. This means that swimming with whale sharks is completely safe and poses no threat to the sharks or to you.


During your whale shark encounter, you may be surrounded by several of these giant creatures. They swim gracefully and peacefully in the crystal-clear waters, and you will feel completely at ease in their presence. You will be able to see their beautiful spotted skin up close and appreciate the magnitude of their size. It's an incredible experience that you will never forget.


Local Regulations:

To ensure that swimming with whale sharks is a sustainable and ethical activity, there are strict regulations in place in the Riviera Maya. These regulations are in place to protect the sharks and their habitat, as well as to ensure that visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.


The first and most important regulation is that all visitors must be accompanied by a certified guide. These guides are trained to ensure that visitors behave responsibly around the sharks and do not disturb their natural behavior .If the whale sharks begin to exhibit unnatural behavior during the season, responsible guides will pause tours until it is deemed safe again.


Another important regulation is that visitors must not touch the sharks or attempt to ride them. Whale sharks are gentle creatures, but they are also wild animals, and it's important to respect their space and not interfere with their natural behavior. Your guide will instruct you on how to swim alongside the sharks without disturbing them.


It's important to reiterate that the regulations are in place for the safety and well-being of the sharks and the visitors, and they must be followed at all times. By respecting the regulations, you can ensure that your encounter with the whale sharks is a positive and sustainable experience.


What to Bring on the Tour

You tour guide will also provide you with all the necessary equipment, including snorkeling gear and a life vest, and will give you a briefing on what to expect and how to behave during the encounter.


The Riviera Maya is also a designated marine protected area, and visitors are required to pay a conservation fee to enter. This fee goes towards the protection and conservation of the area and the marine life that lives there.



Swimming with whale sharks in the Riviera Maya is an incredible experience that you will never forget. These gentle giants are awe-inspiring to watch, and swimming alongside them in their natural habitat is a privilege. However, it's important to understand what to expect and the local regulations before embarking on this adventure. By choosing a knowledgeable and trustworthy tour company, you can be sure you are following the regulations, and you can ensure that your encounter is safe, ethical, and sustainable.


If you're planning a trip to the Riviera Maya, don't miss out on the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. It's an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.



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