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A Journey Into Paradise

Mexico Oceanic Encounters: Holbox Island’s Whale Sharks

20 January, 2014

In Mexico,it is pretty common for visitors to come equipped with a powerful shark phobia. Perhaps you can chalk this up to that all time favorite movie,“Jaws,” but quite a few impressionable youngsters (not to mention adults!) have been conditioned to fear and respect these awesome ocean giants. 

For this very reason,many people feel hesitant about swimming in deep ocean water. At Holbox Island in Mexico,however,you can overcome this complex and experience an exhilarating state of mind over matter by courageously (and safely) swimming with whale sharks. To date,this remains one of the most treasured experiences for travelers to Mexico.

Running only seven miles long and one mile wide,Holbox is a small island located on the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. During their annual migration (which runs from June to September) whale sharks en route to yonder destinations linger around the island and become one of Holbox Island’s hottest attractions. Tourists can take local boat trips out into the ocean to view the sharks and,yes,swim with them as well. Only two swimmers are allowed into the water at one time,and they must be accompanied by an experienced guide.

Measuring up to 60 feet,whale sharks rank among the world’s largest known fish. Many of the ones you will encounter will be ‘babies’ at only 30 feet long. They have a mouth that is often wider than a set of French doors and a tail fin that looms at least 10 feet high. Needless to say,swimmers often come away feeling both speechless and stunned.

Touching the sharks is prohibited and they are quick to swim away from humans in the water,but those few adrenalin-charged seconds seem to last an eternity,especially as you drift in the water and wait for a boat to pick you up while the sharks are lingering below.