Rules and Restrictions - Protect Yourself and the Whale Sharks You'll Encounter
The creation of the Whale Shark tourism industry in this area of Mexico was carefully designed to be eco-friendly and to provide protection for participants and the Whale Sharks themselves. Prices, season dates and rules are set by the controlling bodies and are strict and heavily enforced. Our tour services are fully licensed and adhere strictly to the rules. Violating the rules not only puts you in danger but also endangers the animals and their ability to sustain their habits.
If you decide to use another provider, be sure to verify that they comply with all rules listed below. The Mexican Army is charged with enforcing rules and can detain non-compliant boats who do not comply with the rules. We want everyone to have a fun, exciting and ultimately safe tour no matter which provider they choose.
DO NOT BOARD TOURS USING DIESEL ENGINES, THE RESIDUE HARMS THE WHALE SHARKS!
Beware of anyone offering you a price below the legal standard or who claims they will allow you to violate the rules below. No one wants to waste a day of their vacation or hard earned money with a spoiled trip.
Support your local tour operators by booking directly with them rather than with large tour operators!
NEW RULES FOR TOUR SEASON 2019-All guests must wear life vests this year. Wet suits are no longer considered acceptable flotation devices.
-Guests are not allowed to dive below the surface to be closer to the animals (hence the life vest rule).
-Only children 10 and over are allowed to go on tours or be in the boat.
-Guests who arrive drunk, visibly hung over or smelling of alcohol will not be permitted to board and will be given no refund. This is for the protection of yourself, the animals and other passengers. We also request that you not drink the day prior to your tour to avoid any issues.
-No single-use plastic is allowed to be brought on board. This includes anything in plastic bags, plastic bottles etc. All of the state of Quintana Roo is banning single-use plastic over the next year with Isla being one of the first areas to implement. There will be drinks provided on the boat using reusable glasses.
-No sunblock is allowed to be used. Previously, biodegradable sunblocks were permitted but even these will no longer be allowed. Biodegradable sunscreens, although not made with petroleum-based oils, still contain natural oils that leave a film on the surface where the whale sharks feed and can be contaminated. Please bring hats, shirts, towels, etc to help stay out of the sun.
Rules and Regulations
Only two participants and one guide permitted in the water at a time
To be eligible to participate in the Whale Shark Tours, Providers, Boats and Guides must all have separate licensing.
Guides have visible at all times their SECTUR permit and must complete courses and be certified for:
Tourism Snorkeling Guide Certification
Whale Shark Biology Course
Group Management in Protected and Unprotected Areas
Boats must not exceed the capacity limitations of 10 passengers per boat
Children under 10 years of age may not may not participate or board the boat
Boats over 33' are not permitted to enter the Whale Shark area