Category: Best Places to go Diving with Whale Sharks

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If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to an overseas trip at present, there may be another option a little closer to home. The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta offers Journey with Gentle Giants. This activity includes snorkeling or scuba diving with whale sharks in a tank the size of a football field.

The tank is aptly named “Ocean Voyager” and is home to four whale sharks, four manta rays, turtles, and plenty of other marine life. The swim program is available daily at 4.30 pm and prices start at US$212.95 plus tax for two and a half hours of swimming time.

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The Galapagos Islands are a bucket list wildlife destination for any animal enthusiast, so it’s no surprise that the waves surrounding these biodiverse islets are also home to whale sharks. Head to the north of the Galapagos Marine Reserve to Darwin island and you’ll be treated to sightings of pregnant females. The mothers-to-be hang out around the Galapagos before heading deeper into the Pacific.

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Nestled in the west of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti’s Bay of Ghoubbet is one of the most reliable places for whale shark sightings. Some of the creatures have even been known to swim close to shore, so you can simply grab your snorkel and paddle out to see them.

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For near-guaranteed whale shark sightings, you can’t go wrong with the Maldives. The giant sea creatures are present around the archipelago all year, though they tend to favor the west islands between May and December, then the east between January and April. The population found in these warm waters is comprised of mostly young males.

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Nosy Be (“Big Island”) is the largest island in Madagascar’s archipelago, though it’s also known as Nosy Manitra (“Perfume Island”) because of the sweet scents of vanilla and ylang-ylang lingering in the air.

Head off the fragrant isle into clear waters and you’ll find a diverse range of marine species and reefs fed by the South Equatorial Current. Manta and mobula rays, dolphins, turtles, rare Omura’s and Bryde’s whales, humpback whales, and whale sharks all frequent these waters. Peak season is between October and December.

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Located off the coast of Tanzania, just south of Zanzibar, Mafia Island doesn’t actually have anything to do with the Italian Mafia. The word is Swahili for “healthy dwelling place,” which is the perfect name for this idyllic island. The local whale sharks are known as papa shilingi (“coin shark”) to islanders, after the coin-shaped dot patterns on their backs. Each is unique, like a finger.

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Utila in Honduras is one of the cheapest places in the world to dive, making this spot one of the best value whale shark destinations available. Take a lo at the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Centre for tour operator recommendations, or simply flag down one of the dive boats heading north of the island.

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The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gladden Spit and the Silk Cayes Marine Reserve are just 40 kilometers off the south coast of Belize. Stay one of the cabanas in the sandy city of Placencia (“Pleasant Point”) for prime snorkeling and diving activities with whale sharks. Take a lo at Placencia’s Sea Horse Dive Shop for some of the most popular tours.

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Another new addition to the whale shark map in the Middle East is the Al Shaheen Oil Field, 90 kilometers off the coast of Qatar. The local whale sharks have long been spotted by fishermen and offshore platform workers, but it’s only recently that the abundance of these creatures and the importance of the habitat have been noted by marine experts.

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Flipping to the west of Mexico, the Socorro islands (or Revillagigedo Islands) can be found 385 kilometers south and west of Cabo San Lucas.

Nicknamed “Mexico’s Little Galapagos,” the depths surrounding these isles do not disappoint for divers. A dip in the waves here offers sightings of humpback whales, giant manta rays, and dolphins, as well as fan-favorites, whale sharks. Whale sharks arrive here in May and can be found swimming the waters until December.