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Whale Sharks 2017 – Amazing Encounters at Isla Mujeres Mexico

Whale Sharks Season 2017

My whale shark season started down in Xcalak, Mexico just south of Cancun  where I did something really unique: got in the shallow water with American Crocodiles.!  We survived and some of us came back north to Isla Mujeres for an opposite experience swimming with gentle giants in the open water.

( interested in the Crocodiles for next year?)

swim with whale sharks in Mexico
My 1st group of excited guests ready to swim with whale sharks

A Very Good Season

Isla Mujeres is fun as always with some new restaurants to try and all the old favorites.  It seems like there is a new whale shark or marine conservation themed mural going up each year.

whale shark mural
One of the colorful murals in Isla Mujeres honoring the whale sharks
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A view of the northern end of the Isla Mujeres. We stay at a hotel just down the beach from the pyramid shaped one

The weather was settled with clear skies and beautiful water conditions for photography.  Each morning we would board the boat and head out to where the captains estimated the aggregation would be – it can move overnight depending on wind, currents, and activity of the plankton food mass.   We had no trouble finding them in short order.

whale shark at the surface
A whale shark swims to our boat as it feeds with other whale sharks on a giant patch of plankton

This year I photographed with my Canon 5D IV and EF 15mm Fisheye f2.5

whale shark at the surface
A whale shark slowly swims while feeding at the surface

We would have several good “drops” into the water by mid morning.  Often we could follow one individual and when they got ahead of us just stay in place because another whale shark or two was on its way straight to us.  If none where nearby, the captain would come pick us up and take us back into the action and drop us again.


Occasionally we would get into an area with other boats of guests taking turns at swimming.  No matter, because we could take a break while they had their chance then soon packed up to return to the mainland.  We were out early and would stay late so we had plenty of time.  By mid afternoon we were usually the only boat remaining.  Some private time!

private charter for Whale Sharks
One of our boats ready to take us out
A sign at the docks explaining the rules and feeding of the whale shark

Giant Manta Rays

We would keep watch for mantas and would devote some time to looking for them either on our way to and from or when we needed a break form the whale sharks.  We found them several times and had a good in water session with one of the groups of mantas.  It is always harder to find mantas since they do not always feed on the surface and they do not have the large fins showing above water like the whale sharks to give them away.

swim with manta ray Isla mujeres
A lucky encounter with a giant manta ray

A Great Trip Out of the Water Too

We would return to the island in the late afternoon.  It was great to relax in or by the pool before changing and having a bit of technology time.  We had so many nice places to choose from for meals, all a short walk from the hotel.

The pool at our beachside hotel
whale shark bottle feeding
A whale shark goes vertical to do what they call “bottle feed” by pumping massive amounts of water into its mouth while staying stationary

The food and atmosphere on Isla Mujeres is wonderful and really makes this a great getaway.  It all ended too soon:  this was exceptional season for the whale sharks.

I want to thank all of the wonderful and interesting people who were my guests this year.  They made it so much fun and I enjoyed conversations with them and helping them with their photography.

Swim with whale shark small group charter
My 2nd group of guests for the whale shark swim

I always leave looking forward to next visit

see my dates for next year

Whale Sharks 2016

Swim with Sailfish and Baitballs at Isla Mujeres

American Crocodiles in Mexico

Swim with Whale Sharks & Manta Rays in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

I just returned from a magical two weeks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico swimming with whale sharks and our special guests, the giant manta rays.

Our groups of 6 guests each had abundant whale shark encounters and we had no problem finding them each day: usually we were the first boat to get to the aggregation and the one of the last to leave in the afternoons.

whale shark aggregation


The water was clear and warm so our pictures were really sharp. photograph whale sharks

The many whale sharks swim at a constant rate feeding on the krill at the surface while we swim alongside. They don’t dive down or even seem to know we are there.  snorkel with giant manta rays

On a few days we found giant mantas and swam with them as they do loops up and down from from the surface. swim with giant manta rays

When not in the water we had fun and great conversation on the boat. Our crew provided lunch and a special ceviche treat in the afternoon.

Each evening after relaxing by the pool, showering, and downloading our photos, we headed out for a fun and delicious meal at the local restaurants.   We enjoyed great music and some soccer action.


Ceviche served on the boat daily
Each day on the boat our crew prepared fresh ceviche for us to enjoy after our day of swimming with whale sharks


marine wildlife of Isla Mujeres
our search for the whale shark aggregation brought us close to an island known for turtle nesting


fun family trips
Sunny days, flat water, and a relaxed day of snorkeling with whale sharks

We chartered from the Keen M group who have the best captains & crew and multiple comfortable boats perfect for this trip (ps I use them for the sailfish and sardine trip with is a bit more hardcore)

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is a fun and safe town full of great cantinas and restaurants


whale sharks of isla mujeres
we rode our golf cart to the end of end of the island to see the park at the point


Hope you will consider joining me next year for all of the fun and magical whale sharks

July 30 – August 4 2018

Swim with Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico