Our Whale shark snorkel tours in Belize at Gladden Spit, Placencia
The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including the cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Shark to the Gladden spit near Placencia in Southern Belize.
Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18 meters and are gentle filter feeders that eat minute plankton and spawn. Scuba Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with these magnificent creatures when they book on a whale shark excursion with Splash Dive Center, and we follow special guidelines and procedures to ensure safety and to limit any harm that may be caused to the whale sharks. Snorkeling is done on the surface in open water following the bubbles of scuba divers which resemble spawn and draw the whale sharks in.
Gladden Spit is the only place in the world where timing for whale shark visits is reasonably predictable and Placencia is the best departure point in the whole of Belize to enjoy these trips. They will there during the time of the full moon during March to June but may arrive earlier or later during that predictable time frame.
Splash Dive Center monitors the arrival of the whale sharks so as to ensure that scuba divers and snorkelers have a very good chance of meeting up with the whale sharks. You can increase your chances of seeing whale sharks by booking for a couple of days on a whale shark scuba diving package (or several snorkeling trips) rather than just one. For scuba divers and snorkelers that arrive in Placencia before the whale sharks do, there are lots of other fun and interesting dives and inland adventure tours that are excellent destinations in their own right as the majority of the attractions in Belize are in the southern half of the country which offers the healthiest reef systems and abundance of aquatic life.
In accordance with Belizean sustainable tourism practices the time slots for Whale shark diving and snorkelling are allocated to dive and snorkel tour operators. Accordingly, our departure time from Placencia is dependent upon the assigned time slots. The travel time from Placencia to Gladden Spit is one hour and thirty minutes. Two whale shark snorkel encounters are attempted with lunch on the boat and an opportunity for some very nice snorkeling near the reef during the lunch interval.
2017 Belize Whale Shark dates:
- March 12th to March 24th
- April 11th to April 23rd
- May 10th to May 22nd
- June 9th to June 21st
These trips from Placencia are in high demand and our April and May trips normally sell out months in advance. For the April and May whale shark moon seasons, we only accept pre-booking for guests who take one of our whale shark packages. However, we do often have gaps between guest leaving and the next guests arriving and sometimes divers will opt to go to an alternate dive destination rather than do the third dav of whale shark diving and we maintain a waiting list of guests who wish to do a day or two of whale shark diving or snorkeling.
We do not accept pre-booking for March and June for other reasons. The success rate in March is low, so we only take guests if we know from our monitoring program that the whale sharks are there. The success rate in June can be very high, but June can be a windy month – our boats can handle the waves, but getting back into the boat in rough water can be dangerous, in which case we have to cancel the trip.
Note that the minimum age to go to the whale shark zone is 14.