Start planning your Belize Whale Shark Diving Vacation!
If you’re looking for one of the most amazing experiences to be found anywhere, something you’ll remember forever and never get tired of talking about, now’s the time to start planning.
Heads up Adventure Seekers!
Whale sharks, those tranquil behemoths of the sea, are already planning their annual migration to Belize.
And if you’re looking for a truly remarkable adventure, you should consider joining them.
It only happens once a year, and only in a handful of lucky spots on Earth, with Belize, for our money, being at the top of a very exclusive list.
Sure, you can see whale sharks in Madagascar, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique, Indonesia and the Yucatan, but Belize’s Gladden Spit is an amazingly accessible and stunningly beautiful spot to see and even swim and snorkel with these incredible creatures.
We’re not exaggerating when we say Whale Shark Diving is incredible.
Measuring over 40 feet (or over 12 metres) and weighing in at more than 79,000 lb (some 36 tonnes) these guys are the world’s largest fish, and indeed some of the biggest animals to ever inhabit the planet. They’re also some of the oldest, having remained relatively unchanged over the last 60 million years.
And they’re not whales. Although the Rhincodon typus is commonly known worldwide as the wale shark, it is definitely a fish, and in no way related to those huge swimming mammals of Moby Dick fame. In fact, the whale shark is described as “being by far the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate”.
The confusion is understandable, as whale sharks share certain dietary habits with their big sea going neighbors. Like many species of whales, the whale shark is a filter feeder, using its big mouth – and by big we mean four and a half feet wide – to strain seawater to obtain plankton and other tiny delicacies such as eggs and sperm released by certain fish during their mass spawns.
Which is why they’re at Belize’s Gladden Spit and Sapodilla Cayes, where, since anyone can remember, “Sapodilla Tom” (as whale sharks are known in Belize), has been a regular visitor during those months when mutton, dog snappers and other fish are breeding like mad, creating clouds of nutritious spawn that the whale sharks travel hundreds of miles to dine on.
The best times to catch the Belizean migration is between April to June, with a month or so on either side. We’ve heard of them being spotted in February, and it’s not uncommon to see them in July, but the full moon of April is considered to be the beginning of whale shark prime time.
Chaa Creek, with a network of colleagues up and down Belize’s coast, cayes and Great Barrier Reef has been helping people enjoy this amazing spectacle for years, and this year is no exception. Naturalist guides and other staff members stay in touch with friends in Hopkins, Placencia and other top spots to keep tabs on this annual phenomenon.
Mind you, things have changed quite a bit from days gone by, when one could swim up, touch, and sometimes go for rides hanging off of these patient giants. Regulations are now in place to ensure that these lovely creatures are not molested or harmed in any way by curious humans, which is a very good thing, as we all want to make sure they continue to feel at home and return to Belize’s welcoming coast. But you can still get very up close and personal with them, and they won’t mind. In fact, they seem to enjoy the company.
Chaa Creek’s naturalist guides can fill you in on whale shark etiquette, and organising excursions to the top watching spots is a breeze, especially with Tropic Air’s service to the coast and cayes from the neighbouring Maya Flats airstrip.
Of course, one the main advantages of seeing whale sharks in Belize is that you’re in Belize. This means that, in addition to having an opportunity to see the gentle giants, you also have a wealth of activities at your fingertips. Where else can you say you swam alongside 40 foot sharks and explored ancient Maya temples, all in one vacation? It’s like Indiana Jones meets Jacques Cousteau – with style.
So if you’re looking to do something extraordinary this year, you may want to contact Chaa Creek and start planning a Belizean vacation between March and June.
The whale sharks are way ahead of you!