Per participant
Couples accommodations, single supplement of $315. Additional $500 donation per person.
25% due upon booking
Donation portion is tax deductible in the US.

3 nights

2 activity days

The world’s largest whale shark and manta aggregation in Mexico’s Caribbean

Experience the world’s largest combined aggregation of whale sharks and manta rays feeding in clear warm waters only 30-45 minutes from Isla Mujeres off the north east tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. You will get the opportunity to swim next to the world’s largest shark and largest ray and contribute to a global citizen science effort that has been helping to reveal migratory routes, residency and population sizes. This activity is snorkeling only and is suitable for adults and children over the ages of 18.

Dr. Rachel Graham, Founder and Executive Director of MarAlliance ( will introduce you to the world’s largest fish and if the conditions are right to the world’s largest ray. These species are near and dear to her heart as she has conducted cutting edge and much replicated work with whale sharks over the past 20 years and is the first person to have completed her PhD in the western hemisphere on the world’s largest fish. She has published a range of science on both whale sharks and manta rays and has successfully advocated for their protection and worked with tourism operators to either set up or improve tourism practices in several countries including Mexico and the aggregation to be visited by our group.

The Details


Encounter a key species that forms part of MarAlliance’s research and conservation efforts in several countries and support the global photo identification database for whale sharks.


  • Learn about the ocean’s largest fish and gain insights into current research and conservation efforts globally and MarAlliance’s work specifically.
  • Guided encounters in-situ with whale sharks and manta rays
  • Photo identification of whale sharks and perhaps manta rays
  • Size estimation of animals
  • Uploading of information in the global database for these species and support the broad citizen science initiative.

Travel and accommodation

You will arrive at Cancún International Airport in Mexico. Once at the airport, we will have pre-arranged transfers that will take you and your luggage directly to Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres ( Transfer includes transportation to the ferry, ferry to Isla Mujeres, then transfer to the hotel.

You will stay in Privilege Aluxes superior rooms with a partial sea and/or city view, with all the modern amenities and special touches that you need. Each room comes equipped with a tub (Jacuzzi style) on the balcony, king size bed, air conditioning with remote, coffee maker, security box, wifi and much more.

Isla Mujeres is a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, 13 kilometers off the coast from Cancún. It’s a vacation destination known for its beaches such as northern Playa Norte, snorkeling and scuba diving on the surrounding coral reefs, and of course whale shark tours. To the east is the Caribbean Sea with a strong surf and rocky coast, and to the west the skyline of Cancún can be seen across the clear waters.

Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Day 1

Travel Day. Arrive in Cancún, Mexico. Try to arrive in Cancún no later than 3 pm to ensure sufficient time to reach Isla Mujeres.

Transfer from Cancun International Airport to Isla Mujeres and Hotel Privilege Aluxes, via minibus and ferry. This can be arranged by MarAlliance at an additional cost.


Setting up for the tour the following day. Although snorkel gear will be available, we recommend that you bring your own gear that you have become comfortable with prior to the trip. This will minimize getting used to the gear and or snorkeling if you have not been snorkeling, so that you may enjoy the tour to the fullest. All guest must wear floatation provided by the boat captain.


Pre dinner with snacks. Whale shark and manta ray talk and field orientation by Dr. Rachel Graham.

Group dinner in Isla Mujeres.

Day 2

7:00-8:00 am

Walk or taxi to the boat. Breakfast on the boat.

8:30-1:30 pm

Outing to the whale shark zone with local operator. Briefings will be given on the boat and guests are allowed in the water with the animals two at a time with the guide. Lunch and drinks will be provided on the boat.

Afternoon is free to relax, sightsee or dive locally.

Review all photo identification photos and upload to to update the global database.

5:30 pm

Review of the day followed by a talk by Dr. Rachel Graham and discussion.

7:00 pm

Group dinner in Isla Mujeres.

Day 3


Walk or taxi to the boat. Breakfast on the boat.

8:30-1:30 am

Outing to the whale shark zone with local operator. Lunch and drinks will be provided on the boat.

2:00-5:00 pm

Relaxing afternoon to sightsee or take a much needed break.

5:00 pm

Review of the day and photographs, uploading of images if time permits, followed by a talk by Dr. Rachel Graham and discussion.

7:00 pm

Group dinner in Isla Mujeres.

Day 4

Travel day – Breakfast in Isla Mujeres and onward journey or return to Cancún International Airport via Ferry and Airport Transfer. If flying out the same day, we recommend that you book your flight to leave late Morning or mid-day earliest to avoid having to rush to the airport.

Travel tips

  • The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). The US$ is equivalent changes frequently so please check for the current exchange rates. We recommend exchanging money prior to arrival however, If you must use American dollars in Mexico, you can get away with it in big tourist destinations, such as Cancun, but be aware you will probably be charged at a lower rate. An easy way to quickly access money while traveling is to use your debit or credit card in an ATM or cash machine in Mexico: you will receive Mexican currency and your bank will withdraw the equivalent funds from your account plus a fee for the transaction.
  • Electrical outlets in Mexico supply between 110 and 120 Volts AC (Same as U.S./Canada)
  • Tap water is not potable in Mexico; drink only factory sealed water to guarantee it is safe to drink.
  • If you plan on using your cell phone, standard roaming charges will apply and rates will be carrier dependent. Most restaurants, hotels and bars are equipped with Wi-Fi that is free for paying customers.
  • Mexico is a Spanish speaking country however; you should have no problem getting around as most service industry types speak English.


Safety is our top concern. All boats carry basic first aid kits, radio communications and an emergency plan.

COVID 19 Protocols

Because travel requirements for COVID vaccinations and testing are changing frequently, we ask that you consult us about the latest requirements for specific Expedition locations and dates.  Email us at

Contacts for Mexico

Hotel Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres, Ave Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Colonia Centro Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo. 77400

Hotel: +52 998 848 8470
Mexico: 01 800 000 ALUX (2589)
USA: 1 877 635 5293

Rachel Graham:
+507 68677749
Whatsapp:+507 68677749

What to bring

If you need any of the below items, you can help sharks and rays by choosing MarAlliance as your nonprofit on Amazon Smile. Amazon donates a few cents from each purchase to help us to conduct research, education and conservation for sharks and rays and fight for these awesome animals. It all adds up and it really makes a difference. Thank you for your support!

For the sun and sea








Swim wear (at least 2 suits), for women: quick dry shorts




Lycra bodysuit/pants

socks site

Water socks


Hand coverage

* Make sure your sunscreen is coral/reef safe and doesn’t contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-MBC and the common preservative butylparaben, all of which kill coral.
** Polarized are recommended as they cut down the glare on the water.
*** We will have these for sale too (The tropical sun is strong; full coverage is important)



2-3 T-shirts


2-3 pairs of shorts


One long-sleeved shirt and one pair of long pants *


1 large regular towel (if you have space)


Large quick dry towel


Pareo or wrap

* To take out on the water in case you start getting too much sun



Mask, fins and snorkel (test equipment before arrival)


Rain jacket/poncho (just in case)


Underwater or splash-proof camera/GoPro


Headlamp with rechargeable batteries


Dry sack for keeping camera gear and other items water-free


Re-useable water bottle

Health and wellbeing


Bug spray


Sea-sick? Dramamine or meclizine**


Own medicines


Snacks, e.g. hard candy‡


Books to read

‡ Always good to have following the snorkel transects

**Bring a supply of Dramamine or meclizine to ensure you are comfortable while out at sea.

Can we invite others (e.g., significant other, family member, friend)?

Yes! Note, however the base cost would remain the same.

What are the main differences between the two Mexico expeditions?

None! Except for the dates.

How are the Mexico expeditions different from Panama, Belize and Cape Verde?

  • Our Mexico expeditions focus on global citizen science, helping to reveal migratory routes, residency and population sizes of whale sharks and manta rays, and generally less research intensive.
  • Price structure is NOT built around gift matching
  • Because a portion ($250) of the cost is considered a donation (other expeditions the full cost of the expedition as you would be volunteering is tax deductible) to MarAlliance, this portion is tax deductible and your travel is not. This means you are free to travel before and after without nullifying your tax benefit.

What is the day to day time allocation during the expedition?

You will spend most mornings and portion of the afternoon in the whale shark zone with a local tour operator and Dr. Graham.  Mid to late afternoons are free to relax.

What can I expect during my time on the expedition?

  • To work side-by-side with MarAlliance Founder & Executive Director, Dr. Rachel Graham
  • To contribute to critical marine citizen science
  • To learn new skills
  • Learn about whale sharks, manta rays and other marine animals
  • To support whale shark and manta ray science conducted by MarAlliance with your donation
  • Enjoy tropical island life
  • To be well fed and enjoy good company!

Will time be allocated for an optional dive?

No!  However, if you would like to extend your stay, we would be happy to arrange your diving excursions.  For optional diving, one must possess a certification card.

Can you accommodate vegetarian meals?

Yes! Most dietary needs can be accommodated.

How many spots are available per expedition & how many spots are left?

There are 8 spots allocated to each Mexico expedition. We will update our website to list how many spots are left as they fill up.

Are teenagers welcome?

18+ years

Do I need to buy travel insurance?

Yes, MarAlliance requires participants to have travel insurance and share proof prior to the start of the expedition.

Note: things to consider when purchasing insurance.

  • Does it cover medical (including evacuation)?
  • Does it provide trip cancellation insurance?

What if I want to extend my stay, and what else is there to do in the Isla Mujeres area?

There is lots to do around Isla Mujeres! Some suggestions are:

  • Cancun – known for its beaches, numerous resorts and nightlife.
  • Cozumel – a more undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, with an abundance of diving spots around a section of the Mesoamerican Reef.
  • Chichen Itza – a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city.
  • Playa del Carmen – a coastal resort town in Mexico, along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline.
  • Mérida: cultural capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, a delightful blend of provincial and cosmopolitan characteristics, full of colonial history.
  • Laguna de Términos – the largest and one of the biologically richest tidal lagoons located entirely on the Gulf Coast of Mexico
  • Cenotes – a natural sinkhole where you can swim and snorkel in one of the sacred cenotes of the Mayan civilization
  • Tulum

Whatever you decide, we will be more then happy to assist you with your travel plans!

Are there other ways I can get involved?

Yes! Whether you join one of the expeditions or not, MarAlliance is always looking for donors to fund field technology, especially satellite tags that will track the migration patterns of sharks, rays and turtles.

  • Amount $3500 (covers 1 sat tag and a portion of the satellite transmission time). You’re welcome to go in on a tag with a group of friends!
  • Donors who fund tags will get to choose a name for the animal tagged and receive daily updates on its movements (tags may remain with animal for weeks, months, even years).
  • Donated tags may be deployed by MarAlliance and expedition volunteers during this years’ Cabo Verde or Coiba, Panama expeditions.
  • Receive weekly updates

*Donations made to MarAlliance are also tax deductible

Price includes

  • All accommodations at Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres, Mexico
  • Two days on the water in search of whale sharks and manta rays, including snorkel gear.
  • Breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, non-alcoholic drinks, (2) alcoholic beverages with dinner
  • Tax deductible donation to support whale shark and manta research
  • Swag bag
  • Interpretation and talks by Dr. Rachel Graham

Price does not include

  • International flights
  • Visa if needed
  • Transfers from Cancun Airport to Isla Mujeres Hotel
  • Travel, health or cancellation insurance
  • Alcohol and tips for hotel and boat staff