No, but most of these encounters are virtually guaranteed. Bear in mind that we are working with wild animals that can come and go from an area as they please. Every effort is made to maximize your chances of seeing and interacting with a specific species but there is always the chance that we may strike out.
It depends on the expedition. Some trips like the Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Adventure are free-diving (snorkeling) trips. In other words, we swim with the sharks or whales at the surface just using a mask and snorkel. Being comfortable in the water is important even if we are not scuba diving.
Generally our trips are suitable for all levels of divers but there are a few that would be a challenge for new divers. There is an ‘Experience Level’ listed along with the other important info under the first image on each trip page. If you’re still not sure, feel free to email us about any particular trip and we’ll help you decide if its a good trip for your experience level.
Equipment is not included in the price for the trip (except tanks and weights) but many of the operators that we use have scuba gear for rent. If you require dive equipment, please let us know well ahead of time and we will help to arrange it.
There is always an element of risk when you spend time in the open ocean. This risk increases when you dive with sharks and when you don scuba equipment or when when you free dive. However, the risks are smaller than you may think. Contrary to popular belief, most sharks are actually very shy. Some encounters that we organize are natural i.e. we do not use any food to attract the sharks. Others involve chumming to attract the sharks. Without using fish it would be virtually impossible to get close to many species. When you add food to the equation, the sharks become more active so the risks are slightly higher. You may find this guide to our shark diving code of conduct quite helpful: How to avoid a shark attack
Yes, but they must be qualified divers (where necessary) and strong swimmers if they are joining an ocean based trip. Also, minors must ALWAYS be accompanied by one parent or a guardian on the trip and their parent/guardian must accompany them in the water at all times.
No. all guests are charged at the same rate.
Deposits, Balances, and Signing Up
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us that you would like to sign up for a particular trip. You will then receive two web-links. One is a simple reservation form. The other is a liability waiver for that trip. We will also send you a trip deposit request. Once we receive the completed form and a deposit check (or wire transfer) your spot will be confirmed.
The deposit is generally between a quarter and a third of the trip price. Most BFE trips are in the $3000 to $4000 range, so the deposit on those is $800 to $1000. The balance is due 90 days before the start date of the expedition.
The deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable. However, if we manage to fill the trip after you cancel, we will put your deposit towards any of our trips that you sign up for during the following 12 months. If you cancel again during that time, you will lose your deposit completely. Please understand that we are not trying to make extra money or cheat our guests. We are simply trying to discourage people from jumping from trip to trip because it is quite difficult for us to refill cancelled spots shortly before a trip.
The balance must be paid 90 days before the trip. It is non-refundable. If you cancel last minute, we will try to fill your spot again. If we manage to fill the trip, we will credit the money towards any other trip we run within one year of the original trip date.
We prefer checks from North American guests but you are also welcome to pay by Paypal, wire/bank transfer or credit card. Some payment options incur a fee (see below).
PAYPAL: If you wish to pay through PayPal we will send you a PayPal money request that includes and extra 4% to cover the fees that PayPal charges us.
CREDIT CARD: If you wish to pay by credit card, we will send you a Paypal money request that you can pay directly with your credit card. You do not need a Paypal account to use this method. The money request will include a 4% charge to cover the credit card fees that we incur.
WIRE TRANSFER: If you wish to send a wire or bank transfer, let us know and we will send you an invoice that includes our bank transfer information. When sending the transfer please add an extra $30 to cover the fee that the bank charges us for receiving wire transfers.
CHEQUE: Please make cheques payable to Big Fish Expeditions Inc.
Covid 19 Concerns
Yes, but each trip is different. All of the hotels that we book and liveaboard ships that we charter have implemented special cleaning practices in excess of WHO recommendations.
All guests are required to present a negative covid test or proof of full vaccination at the beginning of the expedition. In some cases where it is practical, there are also extra social distancing rules in place.
If we have to cancel the trip because of entry restrictions or forced quarantine periods in the destination country, then your booking will be rolled over to the following year.
If there are no entry restrictions and the trip is going ahead but you don’t want to go, then you will lose your deposit if we can’t refill your spot (and the balance if you cancel within 90 days of the trip). If we can refill your spot, then the money will be credited towards any trip with us for one year.
We welcome solo divers! Most liveaboard expedition ships have two bunks in each room. So, if you sign up as a solo diver, you will be assigned a cabin with another diver of the same gender.
Sure! But, if you want a private cabin, you will have to pay for two spots.
To keep costs down on land based trips, if you are coming alone you can elect to share a room with another diver or you can usually pay a surcharge for a private room.
It depends on the trip. All meals are included on liveaboard diving trips. On land based trips breakfast is usually included but lunch and dinner may or may not be. There is a section on each trip page that states exactly what is included.
Yes. There is generally a vegetarian option at all offered meals. However, some destinations don’t quite understand the concept very well so its a good idea for vegetarians to bring a few protein bars in case there is not a particularly good selection of veggie food available.
Generally, there is a choice of food at meal times. If you are allergic to many different foods or if you have life threatening allergies, you may wish to arrange your own meals. If you carry an epi-pen, please let the trip leader know that you have one and where you keep it!
Trip and Dive Insurance Questions
For scuba diving trips you do. For snorkeling trips you don’t. DAN offers very affordable diving insurance that covers evacuation, recompression chamber fees and all other medical expenses: https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/insurance/
That is completely up to you but we recommend it. If you miss the departure of the liveaboard because your flight is delayed or if you can’t go because of a family or work emergency, you’ll be glad you had insurance. Every country has their own insurance carriers. For North Americans, insurance can be arranged through: https://insuremytrip.com, https://diversalertnetwork.com, or sometimes through your flight booking agent.
Usually, the insurance company will request an invoice for the trip from you and some kind of supporting documentation to prove why you couldn’t go (such as a letter from your doctor or from the airline). We can provide them with a copy of your paid invoice if they request it.
Getting There and Away
The first listed day of the trip is always the arrival day. It is not the first day of activity. So, on a land based trip, you can arrive that day. On a liveaboard trip, we recommend that you arrive a day early and get a hotel, just in case your flight gets delayed.
The last day of the trip is your fly out day. On some trips, we may spend the last day transporting you back to a town near the airport. The estimated drop-off time will be listed in the PDF. Please read the trip PDF to see what is the earliest time you can fly out.
Yes, when you first inquire about a trip we will send you a PDF with all of the logistical information that you need to help you plan your adventure.
Flights are NOT included in any of our trips unless specifically listed.
Some trips include airport transfers. If they do, there will generally be a group shuttle leaving the airport (or a hotel near the airport) at a prearranged time on the day of arrival.
If you miss the shuttle you are responsible for making your own way to the boat or hotel. The logistics doc usually has directions to the boat or the name of the hotel to give to the taxi driver.
It will depend on the trip. If there is some leeway, we will hold the departure in the hope that you can get to the boat.
If the itinerary dictates that we leave on schedule or if you are delayed longer than we can wait for, then unfortunately you will forfeit the trip. We strongly suggest that on liveaboard trips, you purchase trip insurance and arrive a day early and stay overnight at a hotel.
Professional Big Animal Photographer Andy Murch personally leads many Big Fish expeditions. Some of our trips may be led by our other trip leaders. You can see who is leading the trip in the info section below the first image on each trip page. You can also read about our different trip leaders here: trip leaders.
So far, this has never happened but we reserve the right to substitute one trip leader for another if there is a scheduling issue or in case of illness or other unforeseen event.
On some trips we do not send a trip leader. This is usually because we are working with a very capable and experienced operator, so sending our own trip leader would be a bit redundant and force us to raise the trip price beyond what we feel is competitive.
Newsletters and Social Media Updates
We don’t send out many newsletters – usually just 4 or 5 each year. Partly, this is because we are busy running trips and partly because we don’t want to bombard our guests with annoying emails.