In the spring around the time of the full moon, whale sharks migrate to the southern reef system in Belize to feed on the eggs of red snapper and other fish. Typically, these magnificent giants congregate around the area near Gladden Spit and can be seen in March, April, May and June, depending on the timing of the full moon. During these months, thousands of snapper come to Gladden Spit to spawn and the filter-feeding whale sharks follow to dine on the caviar.
Whale shark are the largest of all fish, weighing up to 15 tons and growing to 45-50 feet in length. These docile, gentle sharks can often be found less than 20 feet from the surface and as many as four to five sharks can sometimes be seen on one dive. Visits to the whale shark area are highly regulated and special arrangements must be made to dive with the whale sharks, either through a resort or local dive shop.
For diving families, Caye Resorts (www.cayeresorts.com) offers some of the best resort facilities for family vacations in Belize. While both resorts are set in excellent diving areas, Manta Resort's location on Glover's Atoll provides the closest access to whale shark diving. Glover's Atoll is a UN World Heritage Site and also a Belizean National Park. This family-friendly resort offers standard and deluxe cabanas, and a family house with two bedrooms is also available. Children ages 6 and under stay free of charge at Manta Resort and kids ages 7-11 are charged 50% of the prevailing seasonal adult rate. Accommodations during whale shark weeks tend to book quickly, so check the resort's website for current dates and make reservations early.
Manta's sister property, Blackbird Resort, offers another excellent destination for snorkeling and diving families. The resort's location on the eastern side of Turneffe Atoll gives it easy access the famous Blue Hole and other excellent dive sites. The resort is located on two miles of jungle and beach, and caters to families with its cabana facilities. Larger families can be accommodated in duplex and triplex cabanas. Children ages 6 and under stay free of charge and kids ages 7-11 are charged 50% of the seasonal adult rate. No discounts are offered for certified divers under 12 years of age, however. Babysitting is available upon request with advance notice. At Blackbird Resort, 3-, 4- and 7-night packages are available.
For more information, visit the Caye Resorts website at www.cayeresorts.com or contact the resort by phone at 1-888-623-5403 (toll-free from the U.S. and Canada), 1-206-463-0833, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.