Swimming With Whale Sharks in the Maldives


Due to its name, the whale shark often gets a bad rep as it sounds scarier than it actually is. People are often daunted by this creature’s name and are scared before even encountering it. In reality, the whale shark is a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark and is one of the largest known extant fish species. These docile creatures are massive (the largest confirmed whale shark measured to the length of 62ft!) and getting to swim alongside them is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

From Flickr

Photo of Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, Maldives by Sahi

The Maldives is one of the premier destinations to spot whale sharks; these majestic creatures can be found in these waters year-round as there is no actual ‘season’ for whale shark spotting. Although these giant creatures frequent these waters, they can be quite elusive, which is why not much is known about its migratory pattern or how deep they dive and how long they can stay underwater. Nonetheless, swimming with them is an exhilarating experience and it’s a great group activity, which is why many hotels similar to Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, offer this excursion.

Since there is no particular time to spot these creatures, you can be quite flexible when planning this journey, however, it is recommended to leave in the morning as that is when visibility is at its best. Generally, most resorts will take you on a dhoni, a traditional Maldivian boat, as you will likely be taken to the Ari Atoll-- where the fish are most regularly spotted. A sense of calm washes over you as your boat gently cruises along the deep blue ocean. Suddenly that moment of calm is gone and it is replaced with excitement and adrenaline as you quickly try to put your snorkelling gear on before jumping into the cool blue water.

Everything goes quiet; all the sounds around you are muffled by the water and as you begin to get your bearings straight, you suddenly see it, the whale shark. It is an indescribable feeling getting to swim alongside such a majestic creature, it really makes you feel a lot smaller… Swimming with whale sharks is a must when you’re in the Maldives, you really won’t regret it.

A few things to keep in mind:

As exciting as it is and as much as you may want to, please don’t go too close to the animal. While they are docile creatures, you are a visitor in their home so please be respectful.

On this excursion, you and your group/family won’t be alone in the water, hotels send their inhouse naturalist on these expeditions.

This is a suitable family activity, but perhaps not the best for very young children.

Since you will be swimming in the deep sea, it is imperative that you are a strong swimmer.

Initially, it can be a little scary coming so close to the whale shark but remember to stay calm.