Swimming with the gentle giants of the seas is one of the highlights for travelers to La Paz in the fall and winter peak seasons.
The traditional whale shark tourist season opens between November 7 and 10 with much anticipation of visitors looking forward to this unique adventure experience in the capital of Baja California Sur.
However, this is unfortunately not a typical whale shark tourist season in La Paz.
Whale Shark Season Delayed
To much of the disappointment of arriving tourists looking forward to a swimming adventure with whale sharks, the season unfortunately has been delayed this year.
The regulations around offering whale shark tourist to visitors to La Paz require that at least seven animals must be spotted in the tour area for two to three continuous days. Tours are not permitted on days that this condition is not met.
So far, this requirement has not been met this year, so the tours are on hold until the regulations are met for the health and safety of the animals.
What Are Whale Sharks?
Whale sharks are some of the largest animals in the world, ranging from 18 to more than 33 feet in length.
They are considered carpet sharks that filter plankton through their gills, more similar to whales than sharks. Hence, the name given to the threatened species is the whale shark.
However, ironically, they are fish, not mammals, and are not even related to whales despite their feeding style.
They live in warm tropical waters, typically above 70 degrees. That’s why they love to call the waters off the coast of La Paz home during the fall and winter holiday seasons.
Despite their massive size, the animals are truly the gentle giants of the oceans and pose no threat to visitors to La Paz swimming among them on their vacation getaway.
Information About Whale Shark Tours
The whale shark tours and swimming adventures are an important part of the business cycle for tour providers in La Paz and Baja California Sur as a whole.
The activity is very popular with travelers to the area; even some celebrities and social media influencers have shared their participation in this special connection with nature.
A six-hour whale shark tour, including swimming with the animal, is about $1,800 pesos ($102 dollars), depending on the provider and services offered.
Generally, the tours include snacks, lunch, required permits, and a special bracelet needed to enter the permitted area. The bracelets are limited to control the number of visitors able to interact with the animals on a daily basis.
The good news is many of the tour operators are ready to start tours once they get official approval from local officials. The number of tour companies operating is expected to increase in the coming weeks as additional providers are in the process of receiving their official permits.
What Travelers Need to Know
Unfortunately, the start of the season is on hold until adequate numbers of the animals are available in the tour area.
However, that should hopefully be lifted soon so tourists can enjoy this special opportunity to have a unique connection to nature in La Paz.
Until the season opens, there are still other great opportunities to connect with the wild side of Baja California Sur. For example, tourists should consider taking a boat tour trip out to the UNESCO biosphere reserve site of Isla Espiritu Santo.
More than 9,000 years ago, the first humans are believed to have arrived on Isla Espiritu Santo due to the abundance of wildlife and seafood in the area.
Today, it’s an amazing desert paradise for travelers to visit and learn about nature in the area. Especially when waiting for whale shark season to start.
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