Get up close to the ocean’s gentlest of giants
The seas around Thanda Island are one of the only places in the world which are home to whale sharks year round, allowing you to swim alongside these majestic creatures in the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
Those visiting Thanda Island can almost guarantee an encounter with a whale shark, thanks to a resident pod of roughly 200 which never migrate outside of the waters between Thanda and neighbouring Mafia island.
While intimidating in size, whale sharks are calm and docile creatures, feeding primarily on plankton. Many will happily allow divers and snorkellers to cruise idly alongside them, admiring their incredible breadth and distinctive markings.
Thanda Island’s sleek powerboat will take guests out on the excursion, providing snorkelling gear and the assistance of the island’s resident marine biologist to accompany you in the water. Iced champagne will be flowing as you bask in the sun, while keeping a weather eye on the horizon to catch a glimpse of dolphins flitting between the waves.
Whale sharks can often be found alone, but it’s not uncommon to see pods of fifty at a time, feeding around the shallow sand banks between Mafia and Thanda Island. Make memories to last a lifetime swimming by their side, or float to the surface and marvel as the gentle giants glide below.
For an alternative perspective, head to the bow of the boat and play spotter, keeping your eyes trained for dark shapes marring the clear blue sea. Whale sharks are often inquisitive, and will come directly up to the side of the boat for you to see them in all of their glory.
Swimming with whale sharks
Shungimbili Island, District of Mafia Island, Tanzania