Placencia: Whale Shark Dive
Get There: The dive shop is located right on the dock, otherwise check their website.
Cost: Diving is BZD210; snorkelling is BZD125.
In the days following the full moon from March to May, whale sharks can be found off the coast of Placencia in Belize. Keen to jump into the open ocean in search of a shark the size of a bus, I got in touch with Seahorse Dive Shop and signed up for a day of snorkelling due to a lack of diving experience.
The day began with the boat ride to Gladden Spit, which was long and at times fairly arduous. Once I made it past the reef which protects Belize, the waves were unrelenting, and in the smaller boat of the Seahorse fleet, I felt every single one of them, so I would suggest taking the complimentary sea sickness preventatives offered at the start of the day. The boat itself was in good condition; however, if you can get on the larger of the two vessels, it does seem to be more comfortable. Once we reached the marine park, we jumped into the rough seas for the first of two snorkels while the divers descended for their first dive. We patiently followed our guide through the waves, gazing down at nothing but expansive, deep blue and a single fish who was keenly interested in us. Naturally, sightings cannot be guaranteed and unfortunately without the presence of whale sharks, Gladden Spit is too deep to see anything for both divers and snorkelers.
We took a break for lunch and to relax and snorkel the local reef which, if the whales let you down, at least offers some excellent snorkelling with rays, sharks and turtles often spotted here. The guides on the boat were super fun, having a laugh with all the passengers and pumping out Girl Talk from the speakers all day, while still being super professional with a real focus on safety. All the equipment I used was in fantastic condition, and while I can’t speak for the dive gear, there were no complaints from others aboard the boat. As safety is such a huge priority here, if you are wanting to dive but don’t have 20+ dives in your book, make sure you head in a day or so early so the guys can assess your skill level to determine if you can do the dive. It is worth considering whether snorkelling may be the better option.
On the day we went, the whale sharks arrived for our second dive, and lucky for me were right at the surface the entire time. In this instance, snorkelling offered the better experience. The advantage of snorkeling on the day meant we were able to have more time with the whale sharks, and from a front and side view instead of up underneath, not to mention a huge plus for us hobos, with snorkelling the tightass option!
The rush of having a whale shark gliding towards you is undoubtably something you’re not quick to forget, so if you get the opportunity I can’t recommend jumping in the water with these gentle giants highly enough.