Includes $500 participant donation to be matched by employer gift matching

Per participant
Shared accommodations
25% due upon booking
Balance due 28 Feb 2018

4 days

3 nights

2 encounter 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.

Sculpture Gardens

One afternoon snorkel at Museo Subactuático de Arte (MUSA), also known as Sculpture Gardens

An innovative project designed to counteract the effects of climate change on our oceans and reef systems. The Museum is a work in progress that was formally opened to the public on November 26, 2010. To date the underwater sculpture museum is comprised of the following, the Silent Evolution, the Garden of Hope. Dream Collector, Man on Fire, The Promis, Inercia, Anthropocene, Inheritance, and Vacio.

Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico

July 16-19th, 2018

Day 1

Monday, July 16

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 to Isla Mujeres and Hotel Privilege Aluxes, via minibus and ferry (transportation will be arranged through the hotel by Rachel Graham).


Setting up for the tour the following day. Although snorkel gear will be available, I would recommend 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.


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

Group dinner in Isla Mujeres.

Day 2

Tuesday, July 17

7:00-8:00 am

Breakfast at the hotel.

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, dive locally or hold meetings.

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

Wednesday, July 18


Breakfast at the hotel.

8:30-1:30 am

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

3:00 pm

Afternoon snorkel at Sculpture Gardens (Museo Subactuático de Arte)

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 4

Thursday, July 19

Travel day – Breakfast in Isla Mujeres and return to Cancún International Airport via Ferry and Airport Transfer. Return to the US. 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 to approximately 17.8 Mexican pesos. We recommend exchanging money prior to arrival however, If you must use American dollars in Mexico, you can get away with in it big tourist destinations, such as Cancun, but be aware you will probably be charged at the standard rate of 10:1 (10 pesos to one US dollar). An easy way to quickly access money while travelling 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 and MarAlliance has an emergency plan for all of our field work sites throughout Mexico.  All boats carry basic first aid kits and a more comprehensive kit will be held at the field base.

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:
+501 602 1750
Whatsapp: +501 602 1750

What to bring

For the sun and sea




Swim wear (at least 2 suits)

Women’s quick dry shorts

Womens rashguard

Mens rashguard

Women’s swimwear

Water socks

Lycra pants

Lycra body suit

* 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.


2-3 T-shirts

Womens shirts

One long-sleeved shirt †

One pair of long pants †

2-3 pairs of shorts

1 large beach towel

Large quick dry towel

Pareo or wrap

Rain jacket (just incase)

Rain poncho (just incase)

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


Mask, fins and snorkel (test equipment before arrival)


Underwater or splash-proof camera

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 after swimming in the sea!
**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 that each person requires the following payment guidelines.

Base fee – $2200

Donation – $500

I’m confused by the pricing. Is part of the trip considered a donation?

The price quoted is the price that you would pay. MarAlliance is relying on a portion of the cost as a donation to support their work, so if you were to sign up, for example, they are counting on $2200 for the trip + $500 donation.

Expedition cost $2200
*Donation $500
Total Cost $2700

*This is a donation directly to MarAlliance a 501(c)3 nonprofit, thus tax deductible.

What are the main differences between the two Mexico expeditions?

None! Except for the dates.

How are the Mexico expeditions different from Panama, Belize, Honduras 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 ($500) of the cost is considered a donation (other expeditions the full cost is a donation) 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 a portion of the afternoon in the whale shark zone with a local tour operator and Dr. Graham. Afternoons are free to relax and a group outing to a local snorkel destination has been scheduled.

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
  • Enjoy tropical island life
  • To be well fed and enjoy good company!

Will time be allocated for an optional dive?


However, if you would like to extend your stay in Mexico or beyond, we would be happy to arrange your diving excursions.

Can you accommodate vegetarian meals?

Yes! Most if not all dietary needs can be accommodated.

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

There are ten spot allocated to both Mexico expeditions. 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 does require participants to have travel insurance.

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 mostly 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.

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 satellite tags that will track the migration patterns of sharks, rays and turtles.

  • Amount $3000 (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’ expedition.
  • Receive weekly updates

*Donated tags 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.
  • Afternoon snorkel at the Sculpture gardens
  • Golf cart rental
  • Airport transfers in Cancun
  • Breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, non-alcoholic drinks
  • Swag bag
  • Interpretation and talks by Dr. Rachel Graham

Price does not include

  • International flights
  • Visa if needed
  • Travel, health or cancellation insurance
  • Alcohol and tips for hotel staff