Swimming with Whale Sharks in Djibouti

by Vanessa Wanders Miles
Fishermen at Tadjoura Port Djibouti

Fishermen at Tadjoura Port

My first thought when I woke up in our hotel in Djibouti City was ‘OMG I’m going to swim with whale sharks today and then the panic set in ‘What if we don’t see the whale sharks. Armed with snorkel masks, we drove ten minutes to the port by the Gulf of Tadjoura where the local fishermen were selling their catch from the morning, it was a hive of activity with lots of real characters. I was ready to go swimming with whale sharks!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. It comes at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.



They are the largest fish in the world with sizes of 5-10 metres long. With mouths up to 5 metres wide, they filter their favourite grub, plankton, through its gills making it safe to dive or snorkel with these graceful kings of the ocean.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Djibouti

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Whale Sharks in Djibouti

Whale Sharks in Djibouti


We spent a few hours scouting for whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura and we had to be ready to jump in the water as soon as a sighting was made. When we visited in February, there were fewer whale sharks in the warm sea but we were lucky to have a few encounters and the sheer joy to see these beautiful fish up close is unexplainable! On one occasion, I was right above the whale shark, only a metre away… obviously, my GoPro decided to fail me and would not turn on but the memory is stored firmly in my mind. Don’t forget to have a snorkel around the reefs along the coastline too, you’ll see much bright fish darting in and out of the healthy corals.

Reef fish in Gulf of Tadjoura in Djibouti

Reef fish in Gulf of Tadjoura

Swimming with whale sharks and exploring the chimneys by Lake Abbe are just two of the reasons Lonely Planet highlighted Djibouti as one of the Best In Travel countries for 2018. I would recommend adding this to your bucket list now!

TIPS: You will need 4 hours in the boat as the ride out of the port and scanning the ocean for sightings of the whale sharks can take time, depending on how lucky you are. I think next time I will go in the middle of high season (November to January) in the hope to see more whale sharks.



Best time to see the whale sharks

Whale sharks are drawn to the clear waters of Djibouti between October to February.

Tours in Djibouti

My trip was fully organised by Trekkup from Dubai but there are many tours seeing the crazy landscapes of Djibouti which includes visiting whale shark areas. Book your Djibouti tour here.


Don’t forget travel insurance

Always make travel insurance a priority for any adventure! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.


You may also like


Alyssaallday 22nd March 2018 - 4:17 pm

I absolutely love that you did this! I’ve joined trekkup since I read your first Djibouti post and I’m trying to make something happen! Thanks for the recommendation!

Vanessa 10th April 2018 - 9:19 am

That’s awesome, I hope to see you on a Trekkup trip some day soon! 🙂

Patricia & Miguel 28th March 2018 - 1:09 am

This is the kind of experience that we’d love to have! Being all time animal lovers and ocean lovers, would be so amazing if we could do something so cool like being near to those beautiful creatures 😀 Thanks for sharing, the photos are amazing!
Have a wonderful week,

Kevin Wagar 19th April 2018 - 8:41 pm

I have always wanted to snorkel or dive with whale sharks! What an incredible adventure. I hadn’t considered Djbouti as a whale shark hot spot, but I’ll definitely add it to my dive list!


Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

error: Content is protected !!