Friday, December 20, 2013

What To Know About Snorkeling With Whale Sharks in La Paz, Mexico

You've probably seen photos of snorkelers with a giant whale shark, right (like this, for example)? Well, you can do that not too far from Los Angeles: in La Paz, Mexico! Here are some things you should know before you go:

1. Most people who go snorkeling with whale sharks in La Paz are probably tourists from Cabo San Lucas, just like I was. The price including transportation from Cabo is around $160 (e.g. Cabo Expeditions), but if you book just the snorkel itself (I booked with Marlin Adventures) then it's only $48 per person. My rental car for 2 days including all insurance was $180 which also got me from the airport to Cabo and back, so this ended up being much cheaper for us.
2. If you think you'll get to leisurely pose for the camera with the big whale shark in the background, think again. You won't have that much time, so be ready with your camera on before you jump in the water. You'll jump straight from the side of the boat once they spot the whale shark, at which point you'll need to swim towards it and take in the sights and photos before the fish swims away. Which it will do, and rather quickly at that. That doesn't mean you won't get a good look, though. During the 2 hour trip you will jump in half a dozen times, and every once in a while you'll get lucky with a great view and a relaxed whale shark. You might even get that perfect shot in. I was unfortunately too slow, and was also freaked out the first time I saw it head on. No, they don't eat people, but that's a big mouth.

3. Getting back to jumping in half a dozen times during the trip: the water in the Sea of Cortez in the winter (that's whale season) isn't all that warm and the sea can be rough during windy days. You think 2 hours is short, but you'll get pretty exhausted.

4. Again, the sea can be rough, and the boats they take are small (6 snorkelers per boat). Might want to take some dramamine, just in case. I usually don't get sea sick, but I was borderline this time.

5. This last one is just a bit of an observation. There's a rule that states there should be one boat per whale shark, and maximum of 6 snorkelers per whale shark. But, this is Mexico ... what this ended up meaning is that there are half a dozen boats waiting around a whale shark, and the snorkelers in each boat take turns jumping in (i.e. racing) ..

Well, there's that! It's not a leisurely activity but well worth doing! You most likely will get to take a good, long look at a whale shark during those 2 hours!