Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Whale sharks, the largest and most extraordinary fish in the world, are famously mysterious in their behavior and migration routes. But you’ll most reliably find them around Mexico in the peak season of July and August, when they come by the hundreds to bask in the warm waters and presumably their own elegance. Also to eat plankton.
“If anything in nature can be a slam dunk, Isla Mujeres is it,” Skerry says. “You can stay in the water for three or four hours and never not see a whale shark.”
One day, I will finally get the chance to swim with whale sharks, and when that day comes it will be the final test of whether my commitment to ethical travel is as strong as I try to make it sound online, or whether I am in fact full of shit. Touching the sharks can tear the protective layer of mucus covering their skin and leave them vulnerable to parasites and infections -- so as tempting as it undeniably is to grab hold (looking at you, 80-year-old Buzz Aldrin) and attempt to hitch a ride out to sea, we can be better than this. Fortunately, whale sharks are gentle and inquisitive creatures, and will swim right up close even though we don’t deserve them.