la vida es bella
I have had this little island on my wander list for a looong time, and as soon as I let the fact that I had just got engaged sink in, I immediately looked at my bestie and maid of honor and we both knew exactly what the other was thinking… WHALE SHARKS!
I had no real expectations going into the trip (other than it was going to be epic) and being there never really felt real until I was mere moments away from jumping into the ocean next to a nearly 30 ft shark.
The ride out began with pure excitement and slowly transitioned to a deep appreciation for the planet and overwhelming gratitude for the experience we were about to have. As we arrived on site, I looked out across the ocean and a single fin broke the surface. I immediately lost my breath, tears began to well in my eyes, and I was absolutely speechless.
As much as I had always dreamed of swimming with whale sharks, I was still a little apprehensive of supporting the practice not fully knowing if the natural presence of the sharks was being respected. After doing our research we decided on a tour, that not only respected the animals, but literally blew my mind in every way.
New regulations, which our tour operator played a huge role in implementing, stated that there were to be no single use plastics or sunscreen on board and all swimmers were required to wear a life vest to prevent them from being able to dive underwater in an effort to prevent people from being in contact with the sharks. The tour boats were all commercial fishermen that had taken the season off from fishing to run tours.
A respect for the ocean and the resources that it provides ran deep in the captains and the tour operators. They knew how blessed they were to be granted this gift and they were prepared to do everything in their power to preserve it.
In addition to the whale sharks, we had heard that the manta rays migrate through the area around the end of the season. We asked around, but no one had seen them…
Even though no one had seen the mantas yet, I had a feeling they would be there and our prayers were answered…
Whale sharks and manta rays were definitely the highlight of the trip, but this island was filled with magic around every corner. The views were breathtaking, the food was fresh, the drinks were strong, and the people were some of the kindest souls I have had the pleasure of meeting.