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Whale Shark Planning 2014

Fairfax, California
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537 posts
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Whale Shark Planning 2014

Hi,

We are just starting our research for an August 2014 trip to snorkel (or can you scuba?) with the Whale Sharks. We will be flying from San Francisco area. Here are a few questions if anyone has the time.

Which airlines is the cheapest/most direct flight?

Where to stay? We are 4 friends, all in our early 50's, looking for a quiet (not college spring break kinda place) ,on the beach, 3-4 star unique boutique kinda hotel. Not ruling out all inclusive s either. Are there any designated Dive Resorts? We are all experienced divers. Is there one side of the island that is closer to the dive sites?

Thanks so much in advance.

Susie

Chicago, Illinois
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for Isla Mujeres
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1. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

Susie:

I am also an experienced diver who first came to Isla to snorkel with the whale sharks (SCUBA is not permitted) but fell in love with the island, not for its diving and snorkeling, but because of the friendly people and great food. Snorkeling and diving on Isla, with the exception of the whale sharks, is not as good as it is on Cozumel or farther south along the Riviera Maya because Isla Mujeres is at the very northern tip of the Meso American Reef. So my first question is whether you envision this as a dive trip or as a trip with some diving. If the former, I really recommend you spend the bulk of your trip either on Cozumel or the mainland, then come to Isla to do the whale sharks and chill out a bit. If you're just 4 friends looking to have a relaxing vacation with a few dives thrown in, then head down to Isla directly.

While some of the dive shops offer accommodations above their shops, there is not really a "dive resort" in the traditional sense, again because Isla is not really a dive destination--all the divers go to Cozumel.

On the other hand, if you want some place nice on a really pretty beach (now here is where Isla has Coz beat) try any of the properties along Playa Norte--Nautibeach Condos, Ixchel Beach Hotel (also condos), Privilege Aluxes (which offers an AI option), Na Balam or the Avalon Reef. There are also nice hotels within a block or two of Playa Norte.

The whale sharks are an incredible experience. I highly recommend On Isla Mujeres as your whale shark tour provider--nice boat and a great crew. But if you want a dive trip, I'd suggest going to Cozumel for a few days, then end your trip on Isla. In 2011 we spent 4 nights at Scuba Club Cozumel, then 2 in Akumal and our final two on Isla and loved it. We flew into Cozumel and home from cancun, and doing so increased our airfare by only about $40 per person. If you opt to dive elsewhere first, I recommend spending a few nights on Isla rather than try to make it up for the day just to do the whale sharks, because you'd have to leave early in the morning to get to Isla and you won't know what the conditions are until you arrive. Just like dives, the trip may be canceled if the water is too rough. The trip from Cozumel to Isla takes about 2 to 3 hours.

Cedar Park, Tx
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118 posts
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2. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

I recommend Sea Hawk for your dive shop. Very good, Friendly, experienced staff. They can also take you snorkeling with the Whale Sharks( Scuba is not allowed). There are lots of places to stay. We usually rent a house.

Parker, Colorado
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1 review
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3. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

We are tentatively planning to be in Cancun August 22-August 30. Will there still be whale shark activity on Isla Mujeres? It looks like the "season" is early July through September 15. When is the best time to go? We plan to stay in Cancun and do the whale shark trip 1 day, some cenotes another day ot two and also a day or two diving in Cozumel.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

United, virgin america, and delta fly non stop from SFO.

Vancouver
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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44,503 posts
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5. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

quote: It looks like the "season" is early July through September 15.

Nope

Mid May to mid September

See the Top Question

We went late last August with onisla - one of the best on the island

Edited: 26 February 2014, 04:54
Chicago, Illinois
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for Isla Mujeres
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6. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

Your visit will be during whale shark season. If you are staying in Cancun, there are outfits that do whale shark trips from there, saving you the need to ferry over to Isla Mujeres first. I can't comment on any of them, however, since I have never stayed in Cancun. The group mentioned by VSD, On Isla Mujeres, is my favorite. If you'd like to make a day of it, you could ferry over, go out with them, then spend the afternoon enjoying Isla (the whale shark trips return anywhere from 2-4 PM, depending on conditions).

bemidji minnesota
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7. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

Is $125.00 per person a pretty standard price for whale sharks and would most outfits provide lunch and water?

Chicago, Illinois
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for Isla Mujeres
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8. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

$125 is the official, regulated price. Some outfits play fast and loose with the rules and will underbid this slightly, but if they're breaking that rule, who knows what other rules they are breaking? Most serve something for lunch: usually sandwiches and some freshly made ceviche, served while anchored off Playa Norte when you get back. An exception is Capt. Tony Garcia, one of the few who is licensed both for whale sharks and Isla Contoy. He combines the whale sharks with a shore lunch on Contoy. We've gone out twice with On Isla Mujeres, who offer a large cooler of beer. You're free to help yourself at any time, but once you start drinking you are done swimming with the whale sharks.

Isla
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178 posts
7 reviews
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9. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

Not to hijack this thread, but is there any chance of swimming with the sharks earlier than mid May? I leave Isla on May 7. I would absolutely love to do this, but with a summer home I don't see myself coming down during that time of year ever.

Sykesville, Maryland
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440 posts
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10. Re: Whale Shark Planning 2014

Bruce W: No, the boats are not allowed to go out there before May 15, sorry.