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Holiday Planner: Whale Sharks

They may be the largest fish in the sea, but they can be pretty elusive! Conservation and research programmes operate across the globe in order to learn and understand more about Rhincodon typus, possibly the most popular marine creature on a diver’s check list.

Below we have outlined our top destinations to offer you the opportunity of that special encounter with these gentle giants. {img_alt}


Key          D  Dive Experience          S  Snorkel Experience          R  Resort          L  Liveaboard


The MWSRP (Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme) operate research and conservation programmes in the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area. Whale sharks are year round residents throughout this tropical paradise, and this is the area where you are most likely to enjoy a magical encounter.

Jan – Dec     D S     R L


The annual snapper spawning attracts whale sharks from far and wide. Gladden Spit is the perfect stage to observe these majestic creatures cruising through thousands of fish as they feast on the spawn during the full moon.

Apr – Jun     D     R


The convergence of oceanic currents brings cooler temperatures and natural upwellings provide plenty of food for these massive filter feeders. Research has shown that the majority of encounters are with pregnant females around Darwin Island during their annual aggregation.

Jun – Nov     D     L


As the water warms up a plankton bloom attracts seasonal visitors including whale sharks. As a consequence the visibility is low, but you can’t have one without the other. The best opportunity for encounters is in the Musandam or Daymaniyat Islands.

Jun – Sep     D     R

Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The annual migration here is possibly the largest in the world. Whale sharks and other pelagic species feed on fish eggs and plankton close to the surface at Holbox Island and Isla Mujeres. Encounters are common and the trips include scheduled time in the water.

Jun – Aug     S     R

Mafia Island, Tanzania

The annual aggregation in the channel near Mafia Island provides an ideal opportunity to study and interact with whale sharks as they feed on the surface. Research here contributes to the global spot-pattern photo identification project, mapping their migration patterns.

Oct – Mar     S     R

Donsol, Philippines

Whale sharks can be seen year round throughout the archipelago, but Donsol offers the best opportunity of an encounter. Regulated trips offer sightings of up to 20 whale sharks as they gather to feed in the plankton rich, shallow bay.

Dec – May     S     R

Discover all our whale shark trip ideas, or explore other bucket list species.