Swimming With Whale Sharks, Cancun, Mexico

As the summer season was coming to a end it was time to squeeze in a long awaited adventure, Swimming With Whale Sharks. Being laid up with rotator cuff surgery this summer I had to delay this adventure.

Peak season for swimming with Whale Sharks off of Cancun is the last 2 weeks in July and first 2 weeks of August with the season ending on September 15th, so it was time to make a move and get this adventure going.

Arriving from Sao Paulo into Miami on the morning of September 7th it was a quick flight out on the first flight to Cancun Mexico. Arriving in Cancun around 11 it was too late to do the swim, so it was planned for the next day, Saturday.

Swimming With Whale Sharks  In Cancun you will find a dozen tour groups offering day trips to Swim With The Whale Sharks. These tours are regulated by the Mexican Government, Season being from May 15th till September 15th and the size of boats,  In Cancun they use "Pangas" as they are called in Mexico. A Panga is a high bow outboard motor boat that holds about 14 to 15 people. Being regulated the tour companies limit the tours to 10 people per boat. Prices will range from around $140 to $200 depending on the tour company and what they offer. Only snorkeling and no scuba diving allowed.

For this particular adventure we hooked up with Eco Color Tours of Cancun, we were picked up within a minute of our scheduled time at the hotel, 7:40 am. With a 20 minute ride through Cancun to the Eco Color Tours dock, Juan, our guide for the day gave a brief informative history and habits of Whale Sharks. Not only did Juan give this brief in English, but in Spanish and French for the 10 members of today's group.

Juan explained when we got in the water to stay with the head and swim with the shark, because losing the head it would be hard to keep up with get back in front. We were also told that for regulations we were required to wear a lifejacket for the boat ride and Swimming With The Whale Sharks. He informed us, if we would like, for the swim we could rent a shorty wet suit so you would not have to wear a lifejacket.  Have you ever tried to go under water with a lifejacket on? I chose the shorty wetsuit.

Arriving at the dock we were given and fitted with snorkels, masks and fins provided by Eco Color Tours. We were then introduced to our water guy, the one that would actually swim with us, "Buda" it was explained that Buda would take 2 of us at a time for the swim then we would rotate to the next couple.

Off we went, destination about 1 1/2 hours out from Cancun, about 20 miles past Isla Mujeres into the Gulf of Mexico. After about 10 minutes we noticed several other boats joining us. Pretty soon it was like a cannonball race out to the whale sharks.

Arriving on the location of the Whale Sharks, there must have been about 40 boats, with a group of 20 to 30 Whale Sharks.

This trip I was able to get 3 swims with the Whale Sharks. The first swim, my wife and I slid off the side of the panga with Buda, adjusting my mask and clearing the fog, I lowered my head into the water and was surprised to see the Whale Shark coming right at me. In the neighborhood of , I guess 20 to 25 feet long, looked like 50 feet for the fish story, I was mesmerized. With my GoPro camera I filmed as the Whale Shark approached and started to pass, filming the entire body with gills flapping and then getting bumped by the tail, the tail had to be at least 6 to eight feet in height, I started to swim to catch up to the head. Remember back to when Juan the guide said "stay with the head" well for me it was a all out sprint to catch up, by the time I caught up I was exhausted. After what seemed like forever(actually less than 10 min) I gave up and headed to the boat.

Second dive, left my wife on the boat and head out with one of the French people, not that it matter, we weren't going to be doing any talking. The captain positioned us in front of the oncoming whale Shark that we could see just below the surface. Sliding in again and looking to where I had last seen the whale shark, I noticed that it had descended to about 30 feet. Not to waste my turn I dove down about 20 feet to be able to film and get a closer look. After several minutes the whale shark rose back to the surface, a very impressive sight. Again 10 minutes out but totally exhausted.

Third trip, Buda, our water guide offered to film me with the Whale Shark. Jumping in there was actually 2 Whale Sharks. I swam to the closest one, which out of the 3 dives I think was the largest, at least 30 to 35 feet looking like 60 feet. Swimming along and keeping up with the Whale Shark I tried to dive down to come under and up the other side, with the Whale Shark being down about 10 feet and about 4 to 5 feet thick and me fighting the buoyancy of the shorty  wetsuit I was unable. Once again I returned to the panga totally exhuasted.

Eco Color Tours provided us with drinks and sandwiches out at the swim area. Finishing everyone's swims we headed back .

A stop was made just off Isla Mujeres where we were able to swim in shallow water. The crew from Eco Color tours made us ceviche  and more sandwiches.

Overall , we could not have asked for a better day, perfect weather, fantastic crew and numerous Whale Sharks to see. I think all 10 people on this tour agreed that this was a well worth trip. Another boxed checked off on things to do in one's lifetime.

On arriving at back at the hotel I quickly looked at the video, seeing that I had some great shots, I was pleased. One thing that I did notice in the video was the plankton and bubbles passing by. In what I thought was the Whale Shark swimming fast was actually the current making it hard to keep up with the head. Looking at the video I am guessing the current was going about 4 to 6 knots.


What Makes Belize a Backpacker’s Paradise

What Makes Belize a Backpacker's Paradise

Belize has long been a hotspot for eco-tourists, snorkelers, and young travelers, and is exceptionally well known amongst backpackers. The little country in Central America is full of life, and has numerous opportunities for site-seeing and flora and fauna spotting that are off the beaten path. A few of the best reasons to visit Belize with only a backpack in tow include:The panoramic view of Xunantunich (Stone Lady) archaeological site in Belize

The Language

While backpacking throughout Europe or other parts of Central and South America can also deliver an amazing experience, the language barrier can often prove to make traveling difficult. Unless you're bi- or multi-lingual, hopping from country to country isn't always easy. One poor turn and you could be lost and clueless.

Because Belize is a British Commonwealth, English is its first language – and is the only Central American country where this is so. The lack of language barrier for native English speakers makes it incredibly easy to get around or to ask locals about great local eateries or sites.

Inexpensive Transportation

Belize has one of the best bus systems in Central America, and it is incredibly cheap. Backpackers can get to nearly every corner of the country via the Hummingbird, Coastal, or Southern Highway for around 7 USD. Not only are the buses cheap, but they also offer a great way to interact with locals.

Flights to Belize from the States are also relatively inexpensive. A flight into Belize City or into Cancun, which is only a short taxi away, can easily be secured with the miles saved from a Capital One Venture 100,000 card or another frequent flier card.

Friendly Locals

Belizeans are some of the friendliest people to travelers. If you happen to hop on a wrong bus or are simply looking for a great place to grab an authentic meal, they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. For backpackers, the Belizean willingness to help is often a godsend, and can provide a much more intimate look into the little country.Early morning in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Easy Lodging

Because of Belize's history as a backpackers' paradise, lodging is incredibly easy to find, and rarely requires reservations. If you stay away from the touristy cayes, such as Ambergris, you will easily be able to find a hotel or bed and breakfast room for around $30 a night for a single to two person room. In more touristy areas, prices are higher, but again, rarely require reservations.

For backpackers this is great, as it allows them to pick and choose how much time they would like to spend in certain areas and travel on a whim when necessary.

Same Currency

In Belize, the US Dollar is just as good as the Belize Dollar, and nearly every vendor is willing to accept US currency – if not more so than their own Belizean dollar. This is great for US backpackers because it keeps them from having to exchange currency or paying currency exchange rates.

Major cities, such as Belize City, San Ignacio, and Dangriga, all have ATMs as well so you don't have to carry around large lump sums of cash. However, that doesn't mean that you should avoid bringing a credit card with you for emergencies. A good no foreign transaction fee credit card can be a life saver when cash is lost or stolen.

While staying in a luxurious resort is often what many think of when considering vacation, they shouldn't shy from a backpacking vacation in Belize. Although the country does offer 5 star stays, it is on its open roads where the country can truly be found. So if you are looking for a bigger adventure for your next vacation, consider grabbing a backpack and heading to Belize. The diverse countryside and friendly people will be sure to do anything other than disappoint.


Travel Photo Of The Day- Roatan, Honduras

Tropical Secluded Beach, Roatan Honduras

Photo By Adeliepenguin

Tropical Secluded Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Clear turquoise water and blue sky with big billowy white clouds set the scene for a secluded beach along the coast of the island of Roatan, Honduras, a popular tourist, vacation, and cruise destination on the Caribbean Sea in Central America.

For more information and destinations in Honduras check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures Honduras


Travel Photo Of The Day- Sunset In Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Sunset in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Photo By Timurk

Sunset in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

The three main beaches attract visitors because of their pristine, white sand. Tourists can snorkel in the tidal pools that form near the Manuel Antonio and Espadilla beaches and traverse the “tombolo” or sand bridge that connects the two sandy stretches. The coastline offers visitors the opportunity to see dolphins and migrating whales. Active water enthusiasts will also enjoy other recreational opportunities such as scuba diving, sea kayaking or deep sea fishing.

For more information and destinations in Costa Rica check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures Costa Rica



Travel Photo Of The Day- Sunset Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Sunset over Pacific Ocean, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Photo By Jeff Stein

Sunset Over The Pacific Ocean, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

The Playa Tamarindo is a long stretch of white sandy beach that offers two excellent wave breaks for advanced surfers. One is the rocky Pico Pequeño point and the other is the El Estero near the mouth of the river estuary.

Costa Rica with miles of beaches with pure white sand and sparkling waters, where visitors can swim, surf, and even whale and dolphin watch. Rainforests, mountains, and tropical fauna cover the land. It is a veritable paradise.

Explore more of Tamarindo and other interesting points throughout Costa Rica with

Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures Costa Rica


Montezuma Costa Rica

Montezuma Costa Rica

Located on the southern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula is the seaside village of Montezuma. The village has a carefree laid back atmosphere which has attracted many young foreigners over the years. Montezuma has been found to be a great place to chill and enjoy the quiet tranquil atmosphere, with many local flavored shops and restaurants adding to this bohemian lifestyle. Backpackers and eco tourist have found the rock strewn beaches, rivers as well as the scenic waterfalls make this a must see destination in Costa Rica.
Explore more of Montezuma Costa Rica with Beachcomber Pete


Mira Flores Lock Panama Canal, Panama

Cutting the Isthmus’s of Panama in two, the mighty Panama Canal, is still considered one of mankind’s engineering marvels. From the Caribbean port city of Colon, the canal winds its way across 48 miles of the Isthmus of Panama passing through 17 man made lakes, Gatun Lake being the largest and 3 locks, Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun locks, with the Miraflores lock being the most famous. The canal ends on the Pacific side as it passes under the Bridge of the Americas and enters the Gulf of Panama.

Explore more of the Panama Canal with Beachcomber Pete


Window to the Pacific Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve Costa Rica

Window to the Pacific, Cabao Blanco Nature Reserve Costa Rica

Window to the Pacific, Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve Costa Rica

Located at the southern most point of the Nicoya Peninsula lays Cabo Blanco “Absolute” Nature Reserve. Listed as one of Costa Rica’s best and beautiful nature reserves, Cabo Blanco is made up of 2,896 acres of pristine white sand and shell strewn beaches. From the tide pools along the ocean to the evergreen forest inland, this moist micro climate makes this a Naturist paradise. Winding trails and deserted beaches one will find Cabo Blanco is quite different from the rest of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve was created in 1963 much from the efforts of Nils Olof Wesberg and his wife Karen Mogensen , Danish-Swedish immigrants that lived in nearby Montezuma. The couple was upset after finding large sections of the area clear cut in the late 50’s and pushed for the area to become a Nature Reserve in the Costa Rica Park system. Today only around 15% of primary forest remains with the largest portion of forest being around 50 years old. Wesberg and his wife Mogenson were intrumental in the push for ecological areas and reserves throughout Costa Rica. Wesberg was murdered in 1975 during one such campaign in the Osa Peninsula. Mogensen continued the couples work till her death in 1994.
Explore more of Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve with Beachcomber Pete


Rio de La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Yesterday was kind of a slow going day here in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, pretty much rained most of the day so the day was kind of a hang out day in town, as we were making our rounds to all the small shops in La Fortuna we stopped to taste some local coffee at Down to Earth, after sampling we had to take a bag home to try, we chose the “Dota Select” and for desert a bag of chocolate covered coffee beans.

While sampling the Down to Earth coffee at the coffee store we did run into Michael of Travel Costa Rica Now website. Talked a little about Costa Rica, La Fortuna and his web site. I was able to check out the Travel Costa Rica Now website later that night, I found a lot of good in-depth  information on traveling around Costa Rica and a great selection of Youtube Videos that Michael and his website partner D’ Angelo have made on everything you need to know about traveling in Costa Rica. It would be well worth a visit to the Travel Costa Rica Now website for up to date information on your next adventure to Costa Rica

We decided to hold off on doing the Arenal Volcano tour until the next day, in hope that the rain would stop and would be able to get a good view of the volcano.

View from the bridge at Rio de La Fortuna, Costa Rica

View from the bridge at Rio de La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Today, waking up from another afternoon and night of rain we decided today we would venture out to Rio de La Fortuna, yesterday when we were in town we had heard that there was this great watering hole that the locals as well as a few adventure seekers would trek too on the outskirts of town..

So we headed into town, then took the road leading from La Fortuna to Ramon, we had been told the river was located just passed the other entrance to Catarata  de La Fortuna, at the third bridge from town. The walk was a very comfortable 20 minute walk from La Fortuna on a flat surface.

Passing the entrance to Catarata de La Fortuna we found the third bridge maybe another 100 meters around the corner. The bridge crosses over the Rio de La Fortuna which is down stream of the major water fall of Catarata de La Fortuna, from the top of the bridge you are given a great view of the small waterfalls spilling in to the watering hole. There at the watering hole were about 20 people swinging on a rope from the nearby bank dropping about 30 feet into the swirling water below.

I had to try the rope swing at least once, the problem is that I am not as young as I think I am and one time was about all I could handle. At 50 years old, thinking I am a 20 year old I could feel the strain in my upper back as I swung out over the water hole and dropped the 30 feet into the cold water below. Well worth it, yet once was enough for me. My son and his friend spent the next hour and half swinging from the rope or jumping from the rocks into the base of the waterfall. A 15 year old could handle this all day long and not get tired.

All in all we spent about 2 ½ hours with the walk to and from La Fortuna and swimming and jumping at Rio de La Fortuna. The morning was very well worth the trek out to the watering hole. The great thing was also that it was free, kind of interesting that this was not on any of the tours that they try to sell you back in La Fortuna.

Word of caution, even though we felt very safe here, a mixture of locals as well as travelers, we did hear of the typical stories, so just leave your valuables back at the hotel and enjoy the rope swing.


Catarata de La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Monday morning in La Fortuna, high over cast skies, yet the Arenal Volcano was clearly visible as I walked out the cabina door. Ground was moist with plants covered with thin layers of water droplets from the night before rains. Plenty of birds singing announcing the new day.

A nice relaxed breakfast of Casado, the local breakfast of Costa Ricans meaning the “the marriage“ Rice, beans, plantains, eggs and toast with a nice cup of fresh Costa Rican coffee to get the day going.

Over breakfast we decided we would spend the morning exploring the Catarata de La Fortuna, the waterfall of La Fortuna. A 200 foot drop waterfall coming off the canyons of volcanic rock formations at the base of Arenal Volcano and the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano.

The road leading up to the waterfall park was just around the corner from our hotel, Arenal Rossi, there is also another road leading from the highway between La Fortuna and Ramon.

The sign said 4 km to the waterfalls, ok that’s just under 3 miles, we can walk that with the weather being nice and all. We started the walk with the road being gravel and very little traffic, I think we made it about 1 mile before the complaining started, my son, how much farther, this is going to take for ever. My comebacks were, you know how much I walk in London, Sao Paulo, this is a piece of cake, oh yeah, did I tell you I rode my bike across America? Well knowing the road would get a little steeper and not wanting to hear the whining all the way up I told them to flag the next taxi. 2 minutes later we had a ride, 1200 colones,  just over 2 dollars put us at the ranger station. Well worth it, not from the walking but the complaining.

Reaching the entrance we paid our 8 dollars admission to the park. If the water fall has a 200 foot drop then we had to descend a least 400 feet to the base of the waterfall. The walk down the canyon is a winding and for the most part a well maintained stepped trail through some great rain forest with spectacular views of the surrounding canyon. Every once in awhile you would get a glimpse of the waterfall through the trees. The trail to the bottom took about 20 to 25 minutes, a little slow going with the trail being wet and a little slippery from the nights rain.

If this is your first waterfall, Catarata de La Fortuna is very impressive, if you have seen other great waterfalls like Niagara Falls, yes this is small in comparison. Yet compared to Cascadas de Montezuma “not quite sure when they use Catarata or Cascadas” this fall is a least 3 times as high. The neat thing about Catarata de La Fortuna is how close you can get to the waterfall drop, I mean you can actually get in and try to swim under the fall, yet the chances of making it are pretty slim to none. The force of the water dropping is so strong it pushes the water out at what I would think is at least 10 miles a hour “a guess”, my son and his friend as well as other people visiting the waterfall tried and only got within about 20 feet of the outer edge of the fall.

Around the corner and over a little rise is a great swimming hole that is a lot calmer, making for a great spot for families to experience the clear cold waters of Catarata de La Fortuna with out the force of the fall.
Across the river there is also trails going to the top of the waterfall as well as a trail following the river downstream.

We easily spent a 11/2 hours at the base of the falls, the scenery was great, the waterfall and swimming were well worth the trip down. The climbing back up the canyon was a little harder on the body, yet I think overall it was easier than coming down. On the trip down we were more worried about slipping on the wet stone steps while the way up it was easier maneuvering the wet steps.

In overall I would highly recommend a trip down to see the Catarata de La Fortuna, very impressive and one of the main reasons for coming to Costa Rica , at least for me, to see jungles and waterfalls.

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