Disclosure: This blog post has affiliate links to shark diving tours we’ve researched and think are pretty darn epic. If you book a tour, we will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As usual, we try to keep it real and only recommend shark diving tours that will truly rock your world!

Whale shark diving ranks way up there on any shark diver’s bucket list. Yep, I know, you want to cage dive with great white sharks. That’s cool – it’s a life-changing experience, I won’t argue with that.

Yet while many shark junkies chase great whites at Guadalupe, go a little further east and south and you’ll find some of the best whale shark diving on the planet.

Don’t even think of passing up a chance to dive with a whale shark – the world’s largest fish and a true ‘gentle giant’ of the sea. So ditch the cage and grab your snorkel. Wanna see whale sharks? These whale shark diving live aboard tours help maximize your time with these beautiful creatures, all wrapped up in style and, yep, a little luxury too…

Keep in mind these are live aboard whale shark diving tours. Like the name implies, that means you’ll ‘live aboard’ a yacht for roughly a week and dive each day. You won’t be slumming it either – these are nice boats and they can typically be customized to suit your budget. Abenaki is an affiliate of Liveaboard.com and will get a commission if you book any of the tours listed below.

Also, book ahead. They tend to fill quickly – especially the Galapagos.

1 – Sea of Cortes – MEXICO

Great whites get the glory, but Whale Sharks should definitely be on your itinerary when diving on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The Sea of Cortes, on the opposite side of Baja California, is one of the best places on Earth to swim with whale sharks.

It’s a highly under-rated diving experience. The Sea of Cortes is home to roughly a third of the world’s cetaceans. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see whale sharks here, along with dolphins, manta rays and sea lions. The waters here tend to be calm, too, which makes diving all the more pleasant.

If you’re looking for a whale shark diving tour, and you live in North America, the Sea of Cortes is the place to start.

Whale Shark Season: October – April

Price Range: $5,000 – $6,000+

Trip Length: 8-11 Days and Nights

Skill Level: Beginner (Including Snorkelling) to Intermediate

Good Sea of Cortes Whale Shark Diving Boats:

Safari Endeavour

Westward

Swimming with whale sharks is a life-changing experience. Photo Credit/Good Karma to: Sebastian Pena Lambarri, Unsplash.com

2 – South Ari Atoll – MALDIVES

You’ve salivated your whole life at the thought of diving the Maldives. Well, salivate more if you’re a whale shark lover. The Maldives (in the Indian Ocean) are one of the best places on Earth to go swimming with whale sharks.

South Ari Atoll is one of many atolls in the Maldives. It’s the best for seeing whale sharks. Juveniles in particular seem to congregate here. It’s a kind of ‘high school for whale sharks’ – one you should be very fortunate to visit if you find yourself on a whale shark diving tour in this stunning location.

Whale Shark Season: May – December (West Side), January – April (East)

Price Range: $1,900 – $4,000+

Trip Length: 8 Days/7 Nights

Skill Level: Beginner – Intermediate

Good Maldives Whale Shark Diving Boats:

Emperor Leo

Scubaspa Ying

Azalea

Emperor Voyager

Carpe Vita

3 – Cenderawasih Bay – INDONESIA

Whale sharks love Cenderawasih Bay. It’s a whale shark hot spot, in the northern province of West Papua, Indonesia, where the big fish hang out and slurp down the fish that slip through fishermen’s nets.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to see whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay, with calm seas that make it ideal for snorkelling, and is highly conducive to great scuba diving as well.

One more note about whale shark diving here; Cenderawasih Bay has an excellent selection of schooner-style yachts. And don’t think that means skimping on luxury either. Case in point, the SMY Ondina.

Schooner yachts at Cenderawasih tend to be better suited for advanced divers (rather than snorkelling). But if you want to see whale sharks on a sail-powered yacht, Cenderawasih Bay is definitely the place to do it.

SMY Ondina is a schooner/yacht at Cenderawasih Bay in Indonesia that offers whale shark diving with luxury and wind power. Photo Source: SMY Ondina

Whale Shark Diving Season: April – November

Price Range: $2,000 – $5,000+

Trip Length: 6 – 11 Days/Nights

Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Good Cenderwasih Whale Shark Diving Boats:

Raja Ampat Agressor

Calico Jack (Open Water Required)

Pearl of Papua (Open Water Required)

SMY Ondina (Open Water Required)

4 – Seychelles Islands

The Seychelles are an archipelago nation, just off east Africa. They’re also a gathering spot for whale sharks, which hang around the nation’s inner islands. Lucky for them, whale sharks have been a protected species in the Seychelles since 2003.

Lucky for you: the Seychelles are a good whale shark diving tour for divers and snorkelers alike. You don’t need to be full-on Jacques Cousteau to swim with whale sharks at the Seychelles, although there’s plenty here for more advanced divers should you be a certified diver and hankerin’ for some whale shark scuba action if that’s your thing.

Whale Shark Season: October – April

Price Range: $2,800 – $3,500

Trip Length: 8 Days/7 Nights

Skill Level: Beginner (Including Snorkelling) to Intermediate

Good Seychelles Whale Shark Diving Boats:

Pegasus

5 – Darwin and Wolf Islands – THE GALAPAGOS

We can’t talk about sharks without putting the Galapagos somewhere in the conversation. You already know the Galapagos are a hot spot for sharks. Well, that applies to whale sharks too – they come to the Galapagos because at least one of three different ocean currents converge here with nutrient-rich plankton.

EcoGalaxy does Galapagos diving in style and comfort. Photo Source: EcoGalaxy

As a result, whale sharks are year-round residents at the Galapagos Islands, although June to December is usually the best time see them.

Something else to consider. These are the Galapagos. You’ve got a good chance of seeing whale sharks, but the marine life here is arguably the most diverse on the planet. When in Rome, do as the Romans. When at the Galapagos, take it all in.

We should also mention the late Rob Stewart found evidence of shark-finning even here at this supposedly protected marine sanctuary. The point being? First, sharks are in a bad way because of human exploitation. Use your Galapagos dive to get involved with protecting our oceans – sharks included.

Step up and give a shit. Tear up your beer can rings, reduce your plastics.

And second, if you dive at the Galapagos, roll with it. Don’t limit yourself to seeing just whale sharks. The Galapagos are a cathedral. Like Nazare, it’s a place of power and beauty; a portal into the mystery of our planet, much of which we can never know.

Dive the Galapagos, and be a better person for it.

Whale Shark Diving Season: June – December

Price Range: $3,000 – $13,000

Trip Length: 5 Days/4 Nights – 10+ Days

Skill Level: Beginner (Including Snorkelling) to Advanced

Good Whale Shark Galapagos Boats:

Galapagos Aggressor III (Book well in advance!)

Grace

Anahi

Ocean Spray

EcoGalaxy

Scubaspa Ying does whale shark diving tours at the Maldives