7 Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours You Can’t Miss in 2024

woman on one of the best tulum whale shark tours

Want to swim with the Tulum whale sharks?

As I’ve swam with whale sharks in Mexico myself, you’re in the right place for tips — and you’re in for an unforgettable experience

🐋 In this article, I’m going to show you the 7 top-rated and best Tulum whale shark tours so you all you have to do is book, and enjoy!

woman swimming with whale sharks in tulum mexico

Don’t have time to read the whole list? The best Tulum whale shark tour is this Exclusive Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Transportation, Snacks & Drinks — which has a perfect Five Star rating and includes everything.

While there are so many amazing things to do in Tulum Mexico, nothing beats swimming with the largest fish in the sea.

One of the few beach towns in Mexico where you can swim with whale sharks, you won’t regret adding a whale shark swim to your Tulum itinerary.

As I live in Mexico, and have spent A LOT of time in Tulum and the Yucatan, you can rest assured this list highlights all the best Tulum whale shark tours.

They’re all well-rated, and offer you an experience you’ll remember forever on your Tulum vacation.

Ready to get to the list of the Top 7 Tulum Whale Shark Tours? Let’s dive in (pun very much intended)! Oh, and don’t miss the video below that shows us swimming with the whale sharks.

The 7 Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

1. Exclusive Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Everything Included

My boyfriend and I on our whale shark tour, which was a true Mexico bucket list experience!

⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars — With more than 600 positive reviews | ⏰ Tour Length: 8 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

If you want to hop on a full-day tour with no worries throughout the day, this one is for you.

The tour team will take care of everything — from your Tulum hotel transportation to unlimited drinks, plus breakfast and boat snacks so no one goes hungry.

The ride out to sea will take about an hour. The boat is relatively small, and the ride can be rocky, but it will be worth it once you swim alongside the largest fish on Earth.

We had a great tour guide and boat captain! We found whale sharks quickly and we’re able to get two dives with them! We were so excited to be able to see them so up close! Unforgettable adventure!

—Dana (see more Reviews)

Once you arrive, you’ll have plenty of time to jump in the water with your guide to see the whale sharks up close. Each person usually gets 2-3 turns in the water with them, and maybe even four if you’re very lucky (I had three on my tour).

As you make your way back to shore, you’ll stop to snorkel through coral reefs. Keep your eyes peeled for manta rays, sea turtles, and more while exploring underwater! 

Your last stop will be at Playa Norte, widely known as the best beach on Isla Mujeres Island. In fact, this is also considered one of the best beaches in Mexico.

This is a great time to relax and unwind from a packed day! Before your tour ends, you’ll enjoy one last snack of ceviche and guacamole at the sandbar near Playa Norte.

This tour is capped at 10 people, so you’ll have plenty of room. The minimum age for children to come on the tour is 3 years old, but the whale shark swimming itself is not suitable for that age.

Guests on this whale shark Tulum tour have raved about the knowledge and education the guides have provided — so you’re sure to be in good hands during this Mexico bucket list experience.

Note: There is a Natural Reserve Fee of $15 USD per person which has to be paid in cash at the time of your tour.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

2. Private Whale Shark Tour in Tulum for Your Group Only

people on a tulum whale sharks tours
If you’re looking to book a private boat, this is one of the best whale shark tours in Tulum.

⭐️ Rating: Be the first to rate it | ⏰ Tour Length: 6-10 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

Experience the beauty of whale sharks in Tulum with this private swimming tour. Transportation can be arranged from your hotel to Cancun, where you’ll start your journey out to sea. Two at a time, a guide will take you out to swim with these majestic creatures.

A smaller, private tour means you can spend more time in the water, getting the most out of your Tulum whale shark tour. The only thing better than swimming with whale sharks in Tulum is experiencing it with only your closest friends and family.

During the journey, your English-speaking guides will treat you to a delicious meal of fresh ceviche and beverages to cool off. While this tour is non-refundable, you will get a refund or date change if it’s canceled due to weather. 

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

3. Tulum Whale Shark Snorkeling Tour with Lunch at Isla Mujeres & Transport Included

person swimming with whale sharks in tulum mexico
This Tulum swim with whale sharks is one of the top-rated.

⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour Length: 6.5 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

Some of the best snorkeling in Tulum Mexico isn’t chasing schools of fish through coral reefs, but swimming beside the largest fish in the sea — whale sharks.

Don’t worry about transportation, as this full-day adventure includes pickup from hotels in Tulum for guests that book early. You’ll be driven in an air-conditioned van to the Punta Sam Ferry Terminal in Cancun.

We enjoyed every minute of this amazing experience. We had the best crew… They even videoed our jumps for us so we could be totally present in the moment. I highly recommend this tour!

—michelle (see more Reviews)

Snorkeling equipment is provided during the tour, so you’ll get up close and personal with the Tulum whale sharks. The experienced guides will make sure you have a safe and ethical encounter. 

Afterwards, you’ll also get to enjoy a lunch buffet on Isla Mujeres. All in all, this is a magical experience floating through the warm and clear waters next to these wondrous creatures.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

4. Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Transportation & Lunch Included

person on a tulum whale sharks tour
Your whale shark tour Tulum will be unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.

⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour Length: 8 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

This Tulum whale shark tour has 5 out of 5-Stars from reviewers. Great for kids and adults of all ages, this tour has a max of 20 travelers per group. 

From pickup to drop-off, they’ll plan it all to make sure your day is fun and easy. You’ll be picked up from your Tulum hotel and brought to the boat that will take you out to the whale sharks. 

Best experience! We had a great time to include several swims with whale sharks, followed by ceviche and drinks at Isla Mujeres. They then had a quick snorkel trip before heading back. The guide was very helpful especially with kids… the overall experience was great.

—Jason (see more Reviews)

You’ll be provided breakfast, safety gear, and snorkeling equipment so you have everything you need when you reach your destination. Once you arrive, you’ll have a few chances to join your guide in the water to swim with the whale sharks.

You’ll end your day with lunch and a visit to North Beach in Isla Mujeres. If you want a worry-free day of adventure, this is the perfect tour. 

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

5. Whale Shark Watching and Snorkeling Experience on Contoy Island

whale shark swim tulum mexico
Tulum is a great place for your whale shark snorkeling Mexico experience.

⭐️ Ratings: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour Length: 7 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime Tulum whale shark tour! You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Tulum and transferred to Puerto Juarez. Here, you’ll have a light breakfast and begin your journey.

Take in the sights on your way to Isla Contoy National Park, where your guides will start searching for whale sharks. Two at a time, you’ll be able to jump in the water with your guide and watch the gentle giants float through the warm waters. 

This was an amazing experience that was breathtaking… Two of the best guide tours in the business, Willie Wonka and Captain Joseph, made the experience fun and exciting, not to mention they make a great lunch for you. Great job and experience!!!

—tripadvisor reviewer (see more Reviews)

Unlike most tours, the national park fees for this experience are included in the cost. While photos are not included, you will have the option to purchase them at the end. Want to save some money on photos? Take your own!

If you have this GoPro or Akaso Brave Camera, this a great opportunity to use them for underwater photos. If not, this inexpensive waterproof cell phone holder is a must. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a forever memory of your time in the water.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

6. Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Transport & Food Included

While you can’t do any whale watching Tulum, you can do whale-shark swimming.

⭐️ Ratings: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour Length: 8 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

If you want to dive and snorkel Tulum searching for whale sharks, this is the perfect tour for you! Reviewers loved the personal care and knowledge the tour operators provided during the trip, which is on a 33-foot boat (11 m) with 10 passengers max.

Amazing experience, animals are majestic and you get so close. Guides are great and incredibly knowledgeable.

—Louis (see more Reviews)

Tulum hotel pickup and drop-off, breakfast, lunch, and soft drinks are all included in your ticket purchase. After your whale shark experience, you’ll love snacking on fresh, local ceviche on Playa Norte Beach in Isla Mujeres — one of the best beaches in Mexico.

Whether you’re traveling with your family, loved ones, or best friends, you’ll have an incredible day on this small-group tour. It’s a great way to enjoy one day in Tulum Mexico.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

7. Tulum Whale Shark Swim Adventure Tour with Transport

whale shark swimming in mexico
Whale shark swimming Tulum is an unforgettable experience, but you must book a tour.

⭐️ Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏰ Tour Length: 8 hours | 🐋 Check rates and availability

This swim with whale sharks Tulum tour includes everything you need for an unforgettable swimming adventure. Your multilingual guide will brief you on safety, while you enjoy breakfast! After, you’ll make your way to the whale shark locations.

When you arrive, a guide will help you navigate the waters to spot the large Tulum sharks.

Our guide, as well as the diver who led us to the whale sharks, was amazing. They worked very hard to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. We were able to see several whale sharks, and get very close to them as well.

—Marcia (see more Reviews)

The waters may be rough and overwhelming at first for novice swimmers, but you’ll acclimate, and then have time to relax and recover when you get to Isla Mujeres. There, you’ll enjoy snorkeling in the calm waters off-shore of Playa Norte, along with a light lunch. 

The best part? You can leave your phone in your dry bag — a professional photographer will join you during this experience. Photos can be purchased afterward, if you’d like.

This tour is offered during peak Tulum whale shark season, June-September. While sightings are never guaranteed, this is the best time to test your luck.

Tulum Whale Shark Tours: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you see whale sharks in Tulum?

Yes — You can see whale sharks in Tulum. However, there’s a bit of travel involved as the whale sharks tour boats actually leave from Cancun, so you have to get from Tulum to Cancun.

people snorkeling with the whale sharks in mexico
The whale shark zone in Mexico’s Caribbean is the same whether you’re on an Isla Holbox tour, Cancun whale sharks tours or Isla Mujeres whale shark tours.

🤔 Wondering, Are there any Tulum whale shark tours from Tulum? While many offer FREE transportation from your hotel in Tulum, you will have to get to Cancun to board the boat.

During whale shark season Tulum, you can take a tour boat out from Cancun to go searching for these magnificent creatures. 

The boat ride will take about an hour, and the waters can be rough. Most tours will pick you up in Tulum and bring you to the docks in Cancun to depart.

It’s quite the journey, but that’s how you can see whale sharks in Tulum Mexico.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

When can you see whale sharks in Tulum?

From approx. May-September, you can see whale sharks migrating in the waters where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet.

Of course, this is a wild animal encounter, so there’s always a chance you won’t see them on your whale sharks tour.

However, Tulum whale shark tours are organized and operated by experienced guides familiar with the environment — giving you the best chance to see whale sharks in Mexico.

In case you’re wondering, you will not get a refund if you don’t see any whale sharks, as that’s out of the tour company’s control. This is standard practice at any wild animal encounter tour you take.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

When is the Tulum whale shark season?

If whale shark swimming in Tulum Mexico is on your bucket list, you’re probably wondering when you can spot them. Tulum Mexico Whale Sharks season runs from May to September.

This is when they migrate through the warm waters of the Yucatan Peninsula and Quintana Roo state.

During this time, you can take part in observing and swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea — but remember, it’s never a guarantee you’ll see them.

In reality, the answer to the When can you see whale sharks in Mexico? question is that the season runs from May to September — however, as a wild animal encounter, you actually might not see any on your tour, even in these months.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

What is the best month to swim with whale sharks in Tulum?

July and August — Whale sharks love warm water. The water temperature can reach up to 85°F (29.5°C) in July and August, making these both a great month to swim with whale sharks in Tulum.

person swimming on tulum whale sharks tur
Wondering, Are there any whale sharks Tulum November tours? No, the tours stop in September when the whale sharks leave the coast of Mexico.

However, no one can predict what the whale sharks will do during the four-month migration period.

Because of this, it’s important to remember that there’s never any guarantee to spot them during your trip. 

For example, I did a Mexico whale shark swim in June, and we saw about 10-15 whale sharks — so you never know!

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

How much does it cost to swim with whale sharks in Tulum?

Most Tulum whale shark boat tours cost about $200-250 USD per person. Of course, prices can fluctuate depending on a number of factors.

The cost may seem high to some, but most tours include roundtrip transportation and many include breakfast or lunch.

You’re also on a boat for about three hours to get to the whale shark zone, so you’ll also get some boat time on your Tulum itinerary.

On average, tour operators only take about 10 people out at a time, so you’ll be traveling with a relatively small group.

If you want a private tour with just your group, the price will go up to about $900 USD, or more.

Looking for the best private whale shark tours Tulum has? Book this Private Whale Shark Tour in Tulum for Your Group Only, so you can enjoy the most comfortable trip possible.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Is swimming with whale sharks scary?

Swimming with whale sharks Tulum Mexico may be intimidating at first, but it shouldn’t be scary.

Whale sharks may be large, but their teeth are small — perfect for eating small plankton, but nothing larger. You can consider them to be gentle giants of the sea.

Whale sharks have tiny teeth, and feed on plankton.

Has a whale shark ever bit a human?

According to the PADI Dive Association, no. In fact, we’re more of a danger to them than they are to us.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Is it ethical to swim with whale sharks?

The best Tulum swim with whale shark tours listed in this article, like this Exclusive Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Everything Included, take many precautions to ensure your swims are ethical.

tulum whale sharks tours boat
The boat we had when we did the swim with whale sharks Tulum tour.

There are many rules and regulations you must follow to ensure they are ethical. Here are the rules you can expect on your Tulum whale shark snorkel trip in Riviera Maya:

  • You must be with a guide
  • Only two people are allowed in the water per boat at one time
  • Only a certain number of tour boats can be in the whale shark zone at one time

These are just a few of the regulations tour operators are required to follow. Whale sharks are an engaged species, and these rules help to ensure that they are taken care of during their migration.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Is it better to dive or snorkel with whale sharks?

Snorkel — Whale sharks are usually found close to the surface or in shallow waters, so snorkeling is better because you just float along the surface of the water.

Snorkeling Tulum Mexico offers more advantages than diving when it comes to swimming with whale sharks.

As the whale sharks swim quickly and near the surface, having less equipment gives you the chance to swim around freely while observing them.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Can you dive with whale sharks in Tulum?

No — The vast majority of Tulum dive boats don’t offer whale shark tours because you don’t have to dive to see them.

Also, there are areas where diving is not allowed off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, so this limits your ability to dive with them in this part of Mexico.

whale shar in yucatan mexico
You don’t need to do Tulum whale shark diving, as whale sharks in Mexico can be seen breaching the surface often.

🤿 What’s the best place to go diving in Tulum?

One of the best underwater experiences you can have is going diving in the Tulum cenotes.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has the largest underwater cave system on Earth, and some of the most unique diving — so make sure to book your Tulum dive trip ASAP.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

What should you not do swimming with whale sharks?

There are a few things to keep in mind, but first and foremost, do not touch a whale shark, and maintain your distance from them. Also, book with a reputable tour operator, like this one with a perfect rating.

You get what you pay form — so don’t settle for a cheap tour operator. This is a full one day trip, and you want to enjoy every second of it. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Tours should only hold 10 or so guests, unless you’re going on a private Tulum whale shark tour.
  • At the meeting point, your guide should go over the rules and regulations while swimming with whale sharks.
  • Life jackets are mandatory at all times while on the boat.
  • It’s not advised to try to swim without a life jacket around them, as ocean waters can be unpredictable. 
  • Do not try to chase or follow the whale sharks.
  • Most importantly, never touch a whale shark!
Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Is it OK to touch a whale shark?

No — It is never okay to touch a whale shark. You should also keep a safe distance of at least 10 feet (3 m) between you and the animal.

Touching them can be harmful, and puts the whale shark at risk — so please be a responsible traveler and don’t touch the whale sharks.

Reputable guides will help make sure there is proper space between you and the whale sharks. 

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Will whale sharks let you ride them?

No — While whale sharks are gentle creatures, and may let you get close enough to ride them, it is against the law to ride them or even attempt to.

Interacting too closely with whale sharks can cause them harm, even if it’s unintentional. This adds to the importance of maintaining a safe distance between you and the whale shark. 

mexico whale sharks
Keep in mind you can only see them during the whale shark Tulum season from May-September.

How close can you get to whale sharks?

You should always keep a safe distance of at least 10-feet (3 m) between you and the whale shark.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Are whale sharks really sharks?

Yes — Whale sharks are sharks; they are not whales. However, they are one of the most docile shark species, like nurse sharks (only bigger).

In addition to being a species of shark, whale sharks are also the largest fish in the sea.

Are there sharks in Tulum Mexico?

Yes — Whale sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and more, all travel through the Tulum waters.

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Is the whale shark the friendliest shark?

Whale sharks have a reputation for being the friendliest shark, and one of the friendliest fish in the sea. They’re also the biggest fish in the sea!

These fish can have an average length of 18- to 33-feet (5.5-10 m) and weigh up to 44,000 pounds (20 tons).

Despite their intimidating size, whale sharks are one of the most gentle creatures in the sea. 

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Do whale sharks get aggressive with people?

Whale sharks are one of the most docile creatures in the sea. There have been no incidents of whale sharks being aggressive toward a human ever recorded. 

However, this is still a wild animal, so you must keep your distance.

They are mostly uninterested in humans, and have no reason to get aggressive, but you also don’t want to be antagonistic to a whale shark (or any wild animal).

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Can a whale shark hurt a human?

Generally, humans pose a larger risk of hurting whale sharks than whale sharks hurting humans. In fact, there are no cases of a whale shark killing or biting a human.

woman swimming with whale sharks in tulum mexico

Are there sharks in Tulum Mexico that can hurt a human? Absolutely. But, while anything can happen, there’s a very low chance of a whale shark hurting a human. 

Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

What do I wear to swim with whale sharks in Tulum?

First off, you’ll need a bathing suit that won’t slip off when you dive into the sea. The water is warm in the whale shark area, so there’s no need for a wetsuit, though you’ll have to wear a lifejacket at all times.

Most tour companies will provide you with a mask and snorkel, but I really regret not having my own since theirs wasn’t the best quality. When I go again, I’ll be bringing my own mask and snorkel.

You will also need fins because whale sharks swim super fast for something so huge, and you need to keep up in order to see them.

Again, most tours will provide these for you, so no need to add snorkeling fins to your Tulum packing list.

Please only wear reef safe sunscreen to practice responsible tourism, or cover yourself with clothing instead, like these long-sleeve bathing suits (AKA rash guard or swim shirt).

Lastly, you’ll want sunglasses and a waterproof sun hat with a strap. The boat ride to the whale shark area in Yucatan is about 1-1.5 hours in direct sunlight. It was very choppy when I went, so non-drowsy Dramamine and these motion-sickness bracelets saved me.

Final Thoughts: Best Tulum Whale Shark Tours

Ready to check a once-in-a-lifetime experience off your bucket list? Then Tulum whale shark tours are sure to provide an unforgettable day. 

Did this article help you book yours? If you’re still undecided, please allow me to help:

The best Tulum whale shark tour is this Exclusive Tulum Whale Shark Tour with Transportation, Snacks & Drinks. It has a perfect 5 Star rating and includes everything in the price you see — so there’s no pesky hidden fees.

If that one’s not for you, please choose a reputable tour operator that puts the whale shark’s safety first.

Also, follow the tour guide’s instructions, for your safety and the whale shark’s. Lastly, don’t forget to bring your non-drowsy Dramamine for a smooth ride out to sea. 

Speaking from personal experience, you’re in for a real treat. After your Tulum whale sharks tour, you’ll forever cherish the memories of swimming beside the largest, most gentle creatures in the ocean.

Want to book more Tulum Mexico Tours?

woman on one of the best tulum ruins tours
Me visiting the Tulum Ruins on this Private Tour of Tulum Ruins, Cenotes & Turtle Snorkeling — a fun-filled day visiting Tulum’s top spots.

Looking to take more tours in Tulum during your visit? Tours are so convenient because you don’t have to worry about planning anything — you just show up and enjoy!

Here are all of my recommendations for the top-rated Tulum tours:

Tulum Travel Planning Guide

1. Should I buy Mexico travel insurance?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Travel Insurance Master, one of the biggest names in travel insurance. (Read more)

2. Can you drink the water in Tulum?

No — You’ll want to buy this Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

3. Is it safe to rent a car in Tulum?

Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

4. Will my phone work in Tulum?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy this Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

5. What’s the best way to book my Tulum accommodations?

For Tulum hotels, Booking.com is the best site, but for hostels, use Hostel World. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb.

6. What do I pack for Tulum?

Head to the Ultimate Tulum Packing List to get all the info you need on packing for Mexico.

7. What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights?

For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

8. Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa or passport stamp upon arrival.