There are many places where whales, dolphins, whale sharks, stingrays etc. can be seen by a guided boat tour, a snorkel trip or even from the costal line.
The season for basking sharks usually starts in May and last until October. Actually, the best time is mid-May until mid-July. Anyhow, there is no guarantee to spot them. In 2017 the best time was April until the beginning of May. In 2018 the first sighting of two sharks was at the end of April. In the recent years, fewer basking sharks were spotted.
Very important are good weather conditions, a sunny day and calm wind to spot them on the surface of the sea and for snorkeling.
What Else to Spot
- common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins
- minke whales (very shy)
- pilot whales
- leatherback turtles
- sometimes sunfish
- blue sharks; season starts end of June, more reliable to spot them but not predictable
- seals from mid-May until October
The dry season in the Yucatan runs from November until April. Since Sian Ka'an is only reachable by quite a rough road it is not advised to visit in the wet season, especially if you DIY.
Ningaloo Reef is famous for swimming with whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales. Therefore, it's a great destination from late March until October. April and July are the busiest months because of Australian holidays. April to July are the best months for snorkeling with whale sharks. Continue reading to figure out your best time for Exmouth.
- Whale Sharks arrive around mid-March depending on the full moon and stay for feeding until July and some until August. The highest chance for an interaction and swimming with them is from April to July. The whale sharks are annually close to the reef at this time of the year. A week after the full moon in March millions of corals release eggs and sperm. Masses of krill are swarming to feed on the spawn that provides a feast for the whale sharks.
- Manta Rays are always present at the reef but abundant from May to September.
- Humpback Whales tours are being offered from August to October. One of the largest population migrates along the coast each year. Safety is always first, but if it is possible, you may experience a truly unique interaction with the whales.
It's quiet in March and again in May and June. Try to avoid April, especially if you don't like masses of tourists everywhere. It gets busy again in July and becomes quieter at the end of July. If you plan to visit in April or July book well in advance. Weekends are more crowded.
The region has a tropical-hot-desert climate. In autumn and winter from April to September with pleasant temperatures around 25° C which cause an average water temp of about 22°C. It's hot during summer with an average daily temp of 35°C and water temperature around 26°C. It doesn't rain much here; less than 30 days of precipitation with the highest chance for thunderstorms from January to April. Fewer clouds from August to December. Cyclones can occur and are more likely to happen from January to March. In March 2015 Exmouth was hit by one and at the end of April 2014, record-breaking heavy rainfall caused flash floods.
The whales come to Tonga for two reasons; first for mating and second for giving birth eleven months later. A large population of humpback whales gathers around Vava'u Islands in Tonga between July and October. These months are the best time for whale watching as well as the unique opportunity to swim with a humpback mother and her calf.
Are Humpback Whale Sightings Guaranteed?
To be on the safe side book your visit between mid-July and end of September. The high number of whales in this area at this time means, there are plenty of opportunities to see them and swim with them. It's also the 'dry season' with less precipitation, less wind, and usually a calmer sea. If you decide to go in October: Whales are starting to leave late September, but especially mothers and their calves are still around in October which can lead to fascinating encounters.
How Long to Stay?
It's recommended to spent several days even better an entire week there, to maximize your chances of sightings and to swim with the whales. The whale watching tours take place in the open water. Sightings can't be guaranteed and the swell can be pretty high. Consider on Sundays none is working.
Where to Stay on Vava'u Islands?
There are not plenty of accommodations on Tonga; Vava'u Islands available. The most excellent hotel is the Mystic Sands Hotel with crystal clear water in front. You can get your pick up by boat for the whale watching trip from their jetty. Another option close by is the Tongan Beach Resort with a tasty restaurant.
The season starts middle of June until September. The highest chance for a sighting is also the peak season on the Hebrides in July and August. Anyway, no guarantee at all. I booked a four-day trip to increase the chance for snorkeling with one and I only saw a young one from the boat. One guy had booked a trip for the third time and our three meters tall shark was his first one. You need the right conditions and also a lot of luck!!
I'd recommend August now. This is also the month when the shark festival takes place at one weekend.
Migration of Humpback Whales from mid-December through mid-April. The peak time for this whales and most mating activity last from late December to January.