Willy’s Tours is a reputable, local company that runs seasonal tours to swim with spotted whale sharks from the tiny island of Holbox, north of Cancun.
About Willy’s Tours:
The tours are run by two captains, Willy and Chino, lifelong residents of Isla Holbox. During the whale shark season – roughly from May to September – the company runs daily boat trips departing from the North Beach public pier.
What Willy’s Tours Include:
Group sizes are small – no more than 10 people – and depart in the morning, generally between 7-8am. (Most tours depart early as the waters are generally calmer in the morning.) The company supplies the mandatory life jackets, snorkels and fins, as well as a packed lunch (sandwich and fruit) and unlimited soft drinks and water. They also have biodegradable sunscreen on board: it’s recommended this be used rather than conventional sunscreen, which can harm the marine wildlife. Each boat has a captain and a bilingual guide.
What to Expect on the Tour:
Depending where the whale sharks have been spotted that morning, the ride out can be anything from an hour or so to several hours. Expect to see wildlife along the way, including dolphins, flamingos, sea turtles and sometimes manta rays, along with a huge array of bird life.
Once the boats spot the whale sharks, the captain draws close to the feeding area and participants enter the water two at a time, along with the guide, and spend up to several minutes at a time swimming with the sharks. Once everyone has swum with the whale sharks half a dozen times, the boat returns to the pier.
Where to Find Willy’s Tours:
Advance reservations are essential and can be made via the website. A deposit is required to secure the reservation. Once on Holbox, participants must pay the balance in cash or pesos at the Super Besa supermarket on Avenue Tiburon Ballena.