Malaysia whale shark season  

Swimming with dolphins has become a fairly ubiquitous pursuit for western tourists. But this activity, thrilling as it may be, is surely eclipsed by one of Malaysia's aquatic activities: swimming with whale sharks.
First of all, let's be quick specific about the creatures we are talking about. Whale sharks are record breakers. They are to be found in tropical oceans throughout the world and are easily the world's largest species of fish (their name refers to their size rather than their classification amongst animal species). The sight of one of their gargantuan dorsal fins bearing towards you is nothing to be afraid of either. The only other creatures in the ocean under threat when a hungry whale shark is on the prowl are plankton (microscopic sea animals and plants) and, very occasionally, tiny fish. Individual whale sharks measuring 14 metres long have been sighted.
Tioman Island
When visiting Malaysia, if you would like to get up close and personal with a whale shark, it is recommended that you visit Tioman Island. This is the largest island on the Malay Peninsula's east coast, and aside from the likelihood of spotting and swimming with one of these ocean leviathans, there are plenty of other activities to whet any adventurer's appetite. Underneath the surface of the Pacific there are shipwrecks dating back centuries, sheltered bays to enjoy sightseeing and picnics, and rocky pinnacles to explore.
Tioman Island is covered in dense forests, so before you take to the seas it would be worth exploring the hinterland. The trees are alive with land animals, such as exotic birds, brightly-coloured butterflies and many species of monkeys. But it is certainly aquatic pursuits that draw visitors here. Tioman, and the smaller islands offshore, are surrounded by coral reefs. As well as being home to vast populations of diverse marine life, the area is a designated Marine Park. Is that all the flora and fauna of the area, not to mention the brittle reefs themselves, are protected by any damage from human activities, such as fishing, or over-enthusiastic scuba-divers seeking trophies of their undersea exploration.
Tioman and its neighbouring islands enjoy a tropical climate, with fairly uniform high temperatures all-year round. By the end of November the region is entering the monsoon season, and this will last right through to the following February. During this time, when the weather can become very unpredictable and stormy, a great deal of tourist activities close down. Consequently, accommodation can become much harder to find.
When it comes to spotting whale sharks, the best visibility is available at the beginning and at the end of the season from February to March, and from September to November. Visiting Tioman must be done by ferry, as the Malaysian government have banned speedboats. These ferry tickets can be booked online. The frequency of the crossing is subject to local weather, tides, and the condition of the sea; on unfavourable days crossings are limited to one-only.
Once on Tioman, little speedboat taxis are available for buzzing around between villages, although these can prove to be costly.
Diving
It goes without saying that if you intend exploring uncharted waters, it is recommended to do so under the guidance of experts. With a suitably experienced guide advising you the location of reefs, wrecks, and more importantly, whales, you can proceed with confidence.
Another tip is to make sure you back plenty of sun cream, as away from the cool waters, the Pacific sun can be pretty merciless.

 

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