While staying at Kandolhu Island Resort in the Maldives, we did an excursion to snorkel with Whale Sharks! After a 7am breakfast, we grabbed our snorkel gear which is provided for free by Kandolhu, and make our way to the boat. The seas are much calmer than on our arrival, so we were very happy for a smooth boat ride. It would be about 1.5 hours until we get to the South Ari Atolls, where the Whale Sharks are typically sighted.

We slowed down as we arrived on location and the boat crew started looking for the creature. The guides all share a group text for sightings to make it easier for everyone to find one. About 20 minutes after arriving in the area, they confirmed a sighting and sped up to the area it was seen. This is where the chaos began. Dozens of boats with over 50 snorkelers all converged on the whale shark sighting. Our guide told us to get ready becuase it will happen fast. He told us we would jump in and try to swim along side of the whale shark. The problem was, everybody else is doing this too.

He yelled "follow me!" and jumped in. I jumped in next followed by my wife. We started to see the giant beast emerge from the dark blue headed straight to us, but I had a problem. My snorkel was not functioning and I could barely breath. I had to come up for air and the whale passed me by. I barely saw it. I had initially wondered if maybe I swam out from the boat too hard and just had a hard time catching my breath. I considered this unusual for me and tried to snorkel again after a few minutes of inactivity. Same problem, it felt like I was trying to suck air through a straw. My guide checked it and confirmed it was an issue. We tried to get our boats attention, but they were either not paying attention or thought we were with the larger group of snorkelers. Our guide was super pissed at them, which he clearly stated out loud. Luckily we didn't have an actual emergency, otherwise not sure who was going to help us. We finally got them to pick us up and they replaced my mask. We were able to locate the whale shark one more time and make our second entry. This time I could breathe easily and got to see the immense whale shark swimming by. It lasted all of 3 minutes until it swam away. Excursion complete. Overall we were happy we got to see it, but would never do it again. In our opinion, the Maldivian government needs to regulate the snorkel operators to limit the amount of boats and times excursions take place. It must be very stressful on the animals and environment.

Photos from my trip to the Maldives in 2023
Videos from our trip to Kandolhu Island Resort in the Maldives.