For many, swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea, the Whale Shark, is one of the ultimate bucket-list experiences. These gentle giants are the perfect swimming partners as they only eat plankton and pose no danger to humans. Having been known to reach more than 40 feet in length, weigh as much as 47,000 pounds with a mouth up to 5 feet wide, swimming alongside a creature of this size offers a surreal experience. For those wishing to experience this first hand, Thanda Island and COMO Maalifushi offer responsible Whale Shark expeditions, where safety of both the sharks and guests are prioritised to create a magical once in a lifetime experience.
Thanda Island, the world’s only exclusive-use private island surrounded by a protected marine reserve, provides unbeatable diving experiences for guests hoping to get acquainted with the underwater environment. Thanda believe one of the most emotional and spectacular ocean wonders you can ever experience is being up close with a Whale Shark. These harmless, gentle giants – the largest fish in the world and categorised by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction – are an incredible part of the Thanda Island experience, as they feed just south of the Island from October to March. Thanda are privileged to be able to share these beautiful creatures up close with their guests who can choose to either swim with them or admire them from their luxury adventure vessel, ably commandeered by their trusted captain and resident whale spotter.
Renowned for its sustainability efforts both by land and sea, the island is partnered with leading NGO, Sea Sense, on programmes built to conserve the spectacular surrounding marine environment and supports local NGO Ropes of Hope, a coral reef restoration programme that will restore coral reefs within the Mafian archipelago and Shungimibili Marine Reserve. Thanda also encourages guests to take part in the Whale Shark Citizen Science Programme, which allows the community to be involved in collecting identification data on whale sharks via images and employs a full-time Marine Biologist, Rianne Laan, who monitors the conservation projects’ progress.
For more information, please visit www.thandaisland.com
In a list compiled by Lonely Planet, the Maldives have been chosen among one of the best destinations in the world for swimming with whale sharks. From the start of November to the end of April COMO Maalifushi offers boat trips from the resort to find Whale Sharks in the warm Maldivian waters. The clear Maldivian waters allow for an aquarium-like view of the gentle giants, allowing guests to observe them closely as they feed from the boat, or jump in and swim alongside them.
As the only resort in the Maldives’ Thaa Atoll, in the archipelago’s tranquil southern reaches, COMO Maalifushi is entirely surrounded by a thriving house reef. Under the waves, find a circus of branching corals, butterflyfish, parrotfish and octopus, while on land, life is more refined. Elegant, understated and pared back, the 65 villas range from Garden Rooms in the island’s leafy heart, to one, two and three-bedroom overwater lodgings, each with sun-soaked deck, infinity pools and waterside cabins.
For more information, please visit www.comohotels.com