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Swimming with Whale Sharks: Where to find these Giants in Indonesia

Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, boasts some of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems. Among its many treasures, the opportunity of swimming with whale sharks stands out as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. These gentle giants, the largest fish in the ocean, can be found in various locations across Indonesia’s vast expanse of tropical waters. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to encounter these majestic creatures and dive into the awe-inspiring world of whale shark conservation.

Best places to swim with Whale Sharks in Indonesia

1. Gorontalo, Botubarani Village

Nestled between Sulawesi’s lush rainforests and the crystal-clear waters of the Molucca Sea, Gorontalo is a hidden gem for whale shark encounters. The nutrient-rich currents flowing through these waters attract plankton, a primary food source for whale sharks. Divers can embark on unforgettable underwater excursions, where encounters with these magnificent creatures are not uncommon. Gorontalo offers a tranquil and unspoiled setting for adventurers seeking a more secluded whale shark experience. As part of their adventurous travel programs, Come2Indonesia can organize dive trips to Gorontalo, where divers have the opportunity to see whale sharks while exploring the underwater world of this region.

2. Derawan Islands, East Kalimantan

The Derawan Islands, situated in the Sulawesi Sea off the coast of East Kalimantan, offer another promising spot for encountering whale sharks. These picturesque islands boast an abundance of marine life and pristine diving conditions. This makes them a popular destination for underwater enthusiasts. Visitors can embark on guided diving expeditions to sites where whale sharks are known to frequent. This provides ample opportunities for unforgettable encounters and underwater photography.

Come2Indonesia can organize diving adventures to the Derawan Islands. Divers will have the opportunity to see whale sharks while exploring the underwater world around Sangalaki Island.

3. Alor, East Nusa Tenggara

Alor is known for its stunning underwater scenery and diverse marine life, including whale sharks. Divers exploring the waters around Alor may have the opportunity to encounter these majestic creatures. Nestled within the Coral Triangle, Alor in East Nusa Tenggara is a hidden gem for diving enthusiasts seeking extraordinary encounters with marine life. Among its many treasures lies the opportunity to swim alongside one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures – the whale shark. Diving with whale sharks in Alor, East Nusa Tenggara, is an experience that leaves a lasting impression on adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. From the thrill of encountering these gentle giants to the awe-inspiring beauty of Alor’s underwater world. Every moment spent beneath the waves is a testament to the wonders of nature and the importance of preserving them for future generations to enjoy.

4. Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat

Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean, are occasionally spotted in the waters around Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Sumbawa, renowned for its stunning beauty and diverse marine life, offers a unique chance to see whale sharks. Although sightings here aren’t as common as elsewhere in Indonesia, encountering them adds excitement to diving and snorkeling. Exploring Sumbawa’s pristine reefs and azure waters may reward visitors with the sight of these magnificent creatures. Its unspoiled coastline and vibrant marine life continue to captivate those seeking unforgettable sea encounters.

5. Bentar, Probolinggo, East Java

Whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, occasionally grace the waters around Bentar Beach in Probolinggo, East Java. Whale shark sightings off Bentar Beach, though not as common as in other Indonesian regions, attract adventurers and marine enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy the stunning coastal scenery while possibly witnessing these majestic creatures gliding through the azure waters. The presence of whale sharks underscores Bentar’s significance as a marine biodiversity hotspot, emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts. With its pristine beaches and rich marine ecosystems, Bentar provides a rare and magical opportunity to experience the beauty of whale sharks in their natural habitat.

6. Triton Bay or Raja Ampat, West Papua

Triton Bay, located in the remote reaches of West Papua, is a paradise for marine biodiversity enthusiasts. In addition to vibrant coral reefs and an array of marine life, Triton Bay is known for occasional whale shark sightings. While encounters may be less predictable here compared to other locations, the pristine waters and untouched landscapes make Triton Bay a captivating destination for intrepid travelers seeking adventure off the beaten path. 

Come2Indonesia can tailor custom dive trips to West Papua. Travelers have the opportunity to see whale sharks while diving in the beautiful waters of Raja Ampat and Triton Bay.

7. Teluk Cenderawasih Bay, Nabite, Papua

 Located off the coast of West Papua, Cenderawasih Bay is renowned for its resident population of whale sharks. Here, fishermen have developed a unique relationship with these gentle giants, who are attracted to the small fish discarded from fishing nets. Snorkelers and divers visiting Cenderawasih Bay have the extraordinary opportunity to swim alongside whale sharks in their natural habitat, observing their graceful movements and distinctive markings up close.

8. Aiduma, Kaimana, Papua

Aiduma, situated in Kaimana, Papua, is celebrated for its stunning marine biodiversity, with whale shark sightings in its pristine waters highlighting its allure. The coastal waters of Aiduma provide a crucial habitat for these gentle giants, attracting divers and nature enthusiasts globally. Amidst vibrant coral reefs and clear seas, fortunate visitors may have the extraordinary chance to encounter whale sharks. Swimming alongside these majestic creatures amidst Papua’s underwater splendor is unforgettable, showcasing the region’s marine diversity. As conservation efforts protect Aiduma’s marine ecosystems, the presence of whale sharks underscores the need to preserve these habitats for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Essential Guidelines for Swimming with Whale Sharks in Indonesia: 

If you’re planning to swim with a whale shark, there are some important things to know to ensure you have a safe and responsible experience. Here are some essential points to keep in mind:

  • Respect the animals: Whale sharks are wild animals and deserve our respect and protection. It’s crucial to maintain a safe distance and avoid disrupting the natural behaviors of the whale sharks. While diving, under no circumstances could you touch, ride, chase or harass the whale shark. Never swim in front of the whale shark or block its path. Always keep a minimum distance of 3 meters when observing these creatures in the water.
  • Follow your guide’s instructions: If you’re swimming with a guide or tour operator, listen carefully to their instructions and follow their guidelines accurately. They have experience and knowledge on how to interact with whale sharks safely.
  • Stay calm and composed: While it’s normal to feel excited at the sight of a whale shark, try to remain calm and make gradual movements. Sudden movements can startle or disturb the whale sharks.
  • Stay at the surface: When swimming with whale sharks, it’s generally best to stay at the surface unless you’re experienced in deep-sea diving and have received proper training to swim at greater depths.
  • Avoid flash photography: Using flash photography can blind or scare the whale sharks. Try to use natural light for your photos and avoid using flashers underwater.
  • Use environmentally friendly sunscreen: If you’re wearing sunscreen, opt for an environmentally friendly formula that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that could harm 
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Pay close attention to other swimmers, boats, and the general environment to minimize any risks and ensure a safe experience.
  • Promote whale shark conservation: Support local initiatives and organizations dedicated to the protection and conservation of whale sharks and their habitats.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy swimming with whale sharks responsibly and respectfully. Additionally, you’ll contribute to their protection and conservation efforts.

While the thrill of swimming with whale sharks is undeniably exhilarating, it’s crucial to prioritize responsible tourism and conservation efforts. Indonesia has made significant strides in protecting these magnificent creatures, implementing regulations to safeguard their habitats and reduce human impact. Visitors are encouraged to choose eco-friendly tour operators and adhere to guidelines for responsible wildlife interactions. Supporting local conservation initiatives helps preserve Indonesia’s marine biodiversity for future generations.

Swimming with whale sharks in Indonesia offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the wonders of the underwater world. From the pristine waters of Cenderawasih Bay to the remote reaches of Triton Bay, adventurers have a wealth of opportunities to encounter these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. By embracing responsible tourism practices and supporting conservation efforts, travelers can contribute to protecting Indonesia’s marine ecosystems. This ensures that future generations can continue to marvel at the beauty of whale sharks for years to come.

From the initial inquiry to the conclusion of your journey, Come2Indonesia guarantees a seamless travel experience focused on encountering the majestic whale sharks. With meticulous attention to detail and personalized consultations, Come2Indonesia caters to every aspect of your trip. Our flexible itinerary planning ensures a hassle-free adventure. Our comprehensive support includes arranging accommodations, transportation, and organizing whale shark encounters. This enables travelers to fully immerse themselves in the wonder of swimming with these gentle giants.

The synergy between the captivating allure of encountering whale sharks and Come2Indonesia’s expertise in crafting unforgettable experiences results in an unparalleled travel opportunity. Come2Indonesia prioritizes sustainable travel practices, fosters cultural connections, and promotes environmental conservation. They serve as the perfect partner for exploring the awe-inspiring world of whale sharks. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or an adventurous traveler, Come2Indonesia guarantees an unforgettable journey with these magnificent creatures. Their commitment to excellence ensures an extraordinary experience.

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling expedition to swim with whale sharks in Indonesia? Join us at Come2Indonesia for an unforgettable journey that will leave you awe-struck by the beauty of the ocean and its magnificent inhabitants. Contact us today to start planning your dream whale shark adventure!

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Article author

Dianne, a 21-year-old International Business student from the Netherlands, is doing a six-month internship in Bali. In her third year, specializing in marketing and process improvements, she is pursuing an internship with Come2Indonesia in Bali.

Dianne Wilms
Marketing Intern


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