Our Whale Shark watching adventure on Holbox

While researching our trip to Holbox I read a lot of reviews on Whale Shark Tour Operators. Many of the Hotels and other Tour Operators contract with Willy's Tours. I'm a fly by the seat of your pants traveller, Tom likes things a bit more put together. Regardless, I decided to just wait till we got to the island and to contact Willy's directly. I was hoping that by dealing direct we might get a better price.

Willy's Tours office is run from the famly store 'Mini Super Besa'.

When we stopped in at the Mini Super Besa to talk with don Willy, he wasn't there so we talked with Ingrid - you can email directly to Willy's Tours at , or if you are so inclined they list the following numbers on the business card they gave me - 01-984-875-2008, 01-984-875-2152, cel 984-128-7552.

What we didn't hear or read on any of the websites is that the whalesharks came in early this year and consequently had started moving away early. They were no longer around Holbox, and we would have to go to Cabo Catoche or even as far as Isla Contoy to locate them.

What this meant was that rather than the typical 30-45 minute boat ride it would take us 1 1/2 - 2 hours to get to Contoy, and then the search to try to locate some. Luckily for us we were only seven on the boat so plenty of room to move around.

All the time on the boat melted away as soon as we saw our first whale shark.

It was so cool because the whale shark was just sort of treading water with it's big mouth open allowing the water to flow through where it sieved out the plankton. Riding the wave in front of the lips are all these smaller fish taking advantage of the incoming plankton.
We were able to pull up right along side and so I got some good shots.

So once you find the whale sharks the process is that 2 visitors + the guide get ready and sit up on the edge of the boat, the capitan maneuvers the boat into position and then says, 'Go', at which point the three of you drop over the side of the boat and swim over to the whale shark.
If you are in a calm area it's really cool cause you can just move slowly around the whaleshark, if the encounter is in current you swim to keep up with it, but then what I really enjoyed was to swim slower and let the whaleshark just slowly pass me by. Or some just swam like the devil to keep up.
Your group spends about 10 minutes in the water then exits for others to get in. Only two visitors are permitted in with a guide. Several boats approached ours but backed off to go hunt for other whalesharks so I guess they respect the efforts to keep from stressing the whalesharks out.

Other tour details - the boat leaves about 8am; after the swimming you get lunch which is a 3 layer sandwich, apple, and a soda or water. You are asked if you want to use a buoyancy vest, or a neoprene shorty suit. You are provided fins, a snorkel, and a mask. Bring sunscreen, hat, motion sick tablets, binoculars, extra water to rinse the saltwater from your face, granola bars, whatever will make you comfortable being out on a boat 5-7 hours.

We were well pleased with Willy's Tours; our guide Lis was really sweet and knowledgable. The capitan, Tomas, although not real communicative was very good and had good eyes, he would detour for us to see other stuff as well. On our trip we saw manta rays, golden rays, spotted eagle rays, turtles, and dolphins. On the trip back the capitan took us into a shallows area where we were able to get into the water and just relax a few minutes. There were also lots of birds in this area as well.

It was a very good day!