Swimming with Whale Sharks – Isla Mujeres

Trip Highlights: Swim alongside the largest fish on the planet, snorkel in crystal clear Caribbean waters, relax on Playa Norte, and discover the charms of Isla Mujeres
When: June – August (mid-July – mid-August for greatest number of sharks)
Duration: 5 days/ 4 Nights


Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve: Reserva de la Biosfera Tiburón Ballena, designated in 2009, is located off the north coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, with a surface area of 145,988 acres. The marine surface of this Biosphere Reserve guarantees the protection of the region which contains waters rich with organic material. This concentration of nutrients allow for the exceptional presence of species such as mussels, crustaceans, birds and marine mammals, as well as large groups of whale sharks, making it the perfect environment for spotting these gentle sea giants in their natural environment.

Isla Mujeres: The “Island of Women”, is located less than 10 miles off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. Just a short 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, it is a long way from the bustle of mega-resort vacations. With almost perfect year-round weather, Isla Mujeres is a haven for beach and water sports enthusiasts.

Sample Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival to Isla Mujeres ~ Upon arrival at Cancun International Airport, transfer to Gran Puerto Ferry Terminal for your 20 minute ferry ride to Isla Mujeres (airport shuttle transportation can be booked ahead of time). The rest of the day is on your own to explore the island. Overnight at Ixchel Beach Hotel or similar.

Whale Sharks ~ The gigantic, polka-dotted whale shark (Rhincodon typus), called “domino” by locals, is the largest living fish on the planet. One of only three filter-feeding sharks, the whale shark feeds on minute organisms including krill, fish eggs, crab larvae, and jellyfish. They are able to open their mouth wide to optimize feeding. They can also feed via suction while vertical in the water. Even though the whale shark has a sizable mouth, it shows no evidence of large, sharp teeth characteristic of most shark species.

DAY 2: Whale Shark Tour ~ Early this morning, you’ll be met at the Nautibeach ferry dock for your first whale shark adventure. Twenty-five miles off the coast, in deep blue waters abundant with plankton, whale sharks have come together in large numbers for their annual aggregation. You have the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants as they glide close to the surface, mouth wide open like a vacuum, filtering food from the water. After your whale shark adventure, you’ll return to Isla where you’ll have the rest of the day to explore. You can relax on world-famous Playa Norte (North Beach), shop in artisan-owned stores, or choose from a surprising array of intimate restaurants for dinner out on the town. Overnight at Ixchel Beach Hotel or similar. (L)

DAY 3: Whale Shark Tour ~ Today, you’ll have another opportunity to go out for a whale shark tour since no two days are alike. The afternoon and evening are on your own. Optional activities include renting a golf cart or bicycle to check out the south end of the island. Overnight at Ixchel Beach Hotel or similar.

DAY 4: MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum ~ Today, you’ll have the opportunity to go snorkeling at MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) and Manchones Reef. MUSA is an innovative project – the underwater sculptures are designed to encourage coral growth and reef formation. Overnight at Ixchel Beach Hotel or similar.

DAY 5: Departure or Yucatan Extension ~ Transfer back to the airport for your flight home or continue your stay in Mexico with an optional extension on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Optional Extensions: Due to its close proximity to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres is a wonderful starting point for discovering the Yucatan Peninsula’s diverse cultural, archaeological, and biological diversity. Reefs to Rockies offers a selection of extensions in the Yucatan. Contact one of our travel consultants for suggestions and pricing.



Meals: L=Lunch

Pricing from $825/ person based on double occupancy.

Package includes accommodations, two days of whale shark tours with lunch, snorkeling tour near Isla Mujeres, local guides, and accommodations as listed in the itinerary. A donation to whale shark conservation efforts will be made on behalf of all trip participants.

Exclusions: international airfare, optional activities, add-on extensions, alcohol, passport/visa fees, gratuities, airport transfers, ferry tickets, taxis, and travel insurance

This sample itinerary is a suggested outline.  It can be customized to best suit your travel plans.

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