The most AMAZING swimming with WHALE SHARK Holbox Tours

Isla Holbox, located off the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, is a very popular destination to swim with whale sharks. These magnificent creatures are the world’s biggest fish and are known for their gentle nature despite their size. Whale shark tours on Isla Holbox provide you the unique chance to get up close and personal with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. We did the whale shark Holbox tour when visiting Isla Holbox and it was such an exhilarating and unforgettable experience! The size of the whale shark, which is around 40 feet (12 meters) in length, is humbling and breathtaking.

Because swimming with whale sharks in Holbox is a popular activity, it is important to book your tour in advance. To help you find the right tour and give some insights about what you can expect and need to prepare, we share our complete guide to the best Whale Shark Holbox tours. 

Whale Shark season in Holbox Mexico

Swimming with whale sharks is a seasonal tour because of their migrating behaviour. The whale shark season in Holbox is from May to September. Because this is the peak season, I highly recommend to book your whale shark tour far in advance

These gentle giants gather in large numbers during this period in the waters around Isla Holbox to feed on plankton and other small organisms that are abundant in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. They are attracted to the region’s rich food sources, making it an ideal time for to swim with them. 


Best Holbox whale shark tours

Whale Shark Tour Holbox Island small group | 6 hours | $210

This 6-hour whale shark Holbox tour takes you out on the open sea for an unforgettable adventure. It will take about two hours by boat to get to the Whale Shark Sanctuary, so be prepared for a long ride! To ensure a stress-free experience for both people and whale sharks, there will be only 2 people at the time who go in the water to swim with the whale sharks. Everyone has two chances to swim. And of course, if someone has enough after one-time swimming, you can always grab that extra spot after discussing it with the guide! 

After this epic experience you will go to Cabo Catoche for another snorkelling spot. Because this is a small-group tour limited to just eight adventure seekers, you will be assured of a personalized experience. Lunch, such as a freshly made ceviche and hotel transport is included.

This tour includes:

  • Hotel/port pickup and drop-off in Holbox
  • Use of Snorkeling equipment
  • Lunch, Fish ceviche, sodas, sandwiches

Secure here your spot for this 6 hour whale shark Holbox tour


Whale Shark and Snorkeling Adventure from Isla Holbox | 7 hours | $235

Your knowledgeable guide will greet you at 6.30 AM at the local Restaurante Mandarina Seaside. Here you will have a light breakfast with coffee, tea, fruits, yogurt and sweet buns before you depart with the boat. Then the adventure begins with a 1 – 2 hour boat ride while you can see other species along the way such as giant manta rays and sea turtles. 

Once the whale sharks are found, you will slip with a pair of two including your knowledgeable guide into the water. This small group of people is for safety reasons and to ensure you get the best experience. Make sure to respect these rules and don’t jump into the water yourself. 

When everyone has got two rounds of snorkeling with the whale sharks, it is time to head to the next snorkeling spot! This will be Cabo Catoche where you can snorkel at the ‘cuevones’ reef. Thereafter you will continue to Santa Paula to go swimming and enjoy freshly caught ceviche before returning to Holbox. 


This tour includes:

  • Cool water and sodas
  • Use of Snorkeling equipment
  • Light breakfast in Luuma: coffee, tea, fruits, yogurt and sweet buns
  • Fish ceviche. Guacamole or mango for those who do not eat fish

Secure here your spot for this 7 hour swimming with whale sharks adventure

Swimming with Whale Shark Holbox tour & visit Cabo Catoche beach | 8 hours | $245

This is the longest swimming with whale sharks tour in Holbox. Besides the snorkel experience with whale sharks, you will also have the opportunity to snorkel at Cabo Catoche to see corals, starfish, turtles and other fish species. Then you will be taken down to a beach close to Cabo Catoche to take some photos and have a lunch break with a delicious fresh ceviche.


As the last stop, you will go to Punta Mosquito for bird watching. Here you can see the beautiful flamingos which is a truly spectacular sight to see!


This tour includes:

  • Use of Snorkeling equipment
  • Bottled water, snacks and fruit
  • Fresh ceviche

Everything you need to know about swimming with whale sharks

Before embarking on an unforgettable experience swimming with Whale Sharks on Isla Holbox, here some important information you need to know. 

  1. Choose a reputable tour operator
    Select a tour operator that prioritizes responsible and sustainable interactions with whale sharks. All Isla Holbox tour operators I recommend in this guide are certified organizations that adhere to local regulations, and prioritize the safety of participants and the well-being of the animals. Besides that they also have a commitment to environmental conservation. Therefore I always recommend to book via a reputable website such as this one, to ensure a safe and legal experience. Vendors on the street might be uncertified and not prioritise well being of the animals. 
  2. Booking in advance
    Whale shark tours are very popular, and because the whale shark season is in Mexico’s peak season as well, I highly recommend to book your tour in advance.
  3. Swim ability and comfort
    While you don’t need to be an expert swimmer, it’s important to be comfortable in the water and with snorkeling. This will ensure that you can fully enjoy the experience. You will get a life vest (if you want to snorkel with that), and of course snorkel equipment including fins. Be aware of the movements from the whale shark and stay clear of their path. They may suddenly change direction or dive deeper. 
  4. Safety briefing and guideline regulations
    Before the whale shark tour, you’ll receive a safety briefing from the guides. Pay attention to their instructions regarding entering and exiting the water, maintaining a safe distance from the whale sharks, and using snorkeling equipment. Always follow the guidelines and regulations provided by your tour operator and guides. These often include rules about not touching or harassing the whale sharks, maintaining a respectful distance, and not using flash photography.
  5. Respect the whale sharks
    That brings me to the last subject, remember that you’re a guest in the whale sharks’ habitat. Be respectful and considerate of their space and behavior. Avoid making sudden movements, loud noises, or gestures that could startle them. And of course don’t touch or feed them! The oil on our skin can cause serious potential dangers to whale sharks. This also makes it very important to use environmentally friendly sunscreen to protect your skin while swimming. Regular sunscreen harms the marine ecosystem, and in some places in Mexico it is even mandatory to use biodegradable sunscreen.
  6. What to bring during a whale shark tour in Holbox
    Because the water of the Caribbean Sea is warm, you don’t need a wetsuit. So bring a swim suit or bikini which fits tight on your body and eventually some dry clothes you can switch to after the snorkeling. Of course bring your own towel, water and eventually some snacks. 
  7. Sea sickness
    If you’re prone to seasickness, consider taking precautions like motion sickness medication before the tour and bring some on the boat. 
  8. Photography and memories
    If allowed by the tour operator, take photos and videos to capture the experience. Just ensure that your photography doesn’t interfere with your safety, the safety of others, or the well-being of the whale sharks. Bringing a Go Pro is always a good idea while snorkeling! 

More Mexico Travel Guides

We hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the whale shark Holbox tours. If you’re looking for more things to do in Mexico, read here our other Mexico blog posts:

Best things to do in Isla Holbox

Punta Mosquito Holbox – The stunning sandbank on Isla Holbox

Best things to do in Tulum

11 best cenotes to visit in Yucatan

Best things to do in Valladolid

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