In the center of the Belize Barrier Reef, you will find a carefully protected marine reserve called the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. The Gladden Spit is where the migratory whale sharks arrive for a few moments in the spring to feed, creating your opportunities to dive with them. Here are 5 tips for whale shark diving in Belize.
Book Your Whale Shark Dives Early
During April, May, and June, snappers spawn 3 to 4 days before and after the full moon. It is these feeding grounds that the whale shark comes for. This extremely limited 6- to 8-day window means it is actually possible to fully book these diving grounds.
To maintain its protected and preserved state, there are also strict rules governing the park. Only 6 boats with a maximum of 12 divers can be clustered there at any given time. Once a dive is done, the boat has to leave immediately to make room for the next. With no dives one hour before sunset until the following day, it lessens the diving time. Short version: book early.
Prepare for Advanced Dive Certification
Hovering depth is around 18 meters to 24 meters maximum by law. As 18 meters is the maximum depth for an Open Water Diver, it’s best to have certifications until Divemaster (30 meters maximum depth). That way your experience won’t be interrupted as you focus on interacting with the whale sharks and your dive guide.
Do Your Research
If you haven’t dived with whale sharks before, you might want to do a little research to prepare for their size and behavior. Your dive guide will do a briefing as well, so pay attention and prepare accordingly. Each dive site has its own peculiarities, and you want to know what to expect, especially in a dive that depends on migratory sea creatures.
Prepare for a Full Day Trip
To have the best chance of experiencing the whale sharks, it’s best to make it a whole day trip. You can probably take two dives on the same day, and snorkeling on the nearby reefs as you wait for your schedule is allowed. Check on the inclusions of your dive boat agency (lunch, snacks, etc.) and prepare to spend the whole day in and on the water.
Pay Attention to Your Dive Guide
With at least 72 divers in the water at any given time, your dive guide (1 for every 8 divers) will need your help in keeping the experience ideal. Pay attention to the briefing, stay the recommended 3 meters away from the whale sharks, and stay near your group. When it’s time to go, you need to ascend as soon as possible so another boat can unload its divers.
Experience Belize with the Whale Sharks
There are not that many places you can go to experience diving with whale sharks, and even fewer where you can dive with them in their natural habitat, in as natural a setting for the whale sharks as possible. With these tips, we know you will have an extraordinary encounter with them.