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Diving with the Whales of Silver Bank

A Life-Affirming Diving Experience With The Whales of Silver Bank

For most of us, there’s no better vacation than to get away to a peaceful tropical beach, kick off our shoes, and melt into the bliss of relaxation. I get it. Working hard for the majority of the year, many people just want to savor the opportunity to do nothing but enjoy the simple things in life; the sun, the sea, the sand, and of course, the food.

A passive vacation such as this has the desired effect of relaxing us but it can take a bit of time to truly settle into the laid-back vibes of beach life. It's not uncommon for a traveler to finally catch the rhythm of paradise in the last few days of their break, just before they return home.

We all need a vacation to relax, but seasoned travelers know that sometimes the best way to unwind is by being active. I want to share with you the story of a four-day vacation I had that, although was a quick break, created a huge effect on me in terms of resetting the internal metronome that beats the rhythm of my life.

Awe-inspiring, life-affirming, and a genuine sense of wonder: there isn’t an experience in the world that, for me, could match the emotions that were invoked when I spent four days connecting with humpback whales in the Silver Bank area of the Dominican Republic.

All Photo Credits: Todd Thimios

Todd Thimios

I was invited to explore this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by Lune Rouge, one of the world’s leading operators in highly immersive entertainment experiences that are headed by Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberté. As this is the peak of luxury tourism, our home for the trip was Tiara, a 178-foot sailing super yacht that is probably the most beautiful boat I’ve ever seen. You can learn more about super yacht Tiara here.

Spending time aboard Tiara was an absolute pleasure. The boat is spacious and has many entertainment features. The crew of ten staff members were friendly and attentive, and our multicourse lunches, fresh snacks, and cold drinks were truly sublime. I’ve enjoyed many amazing sunsets in my life but there’s something uniquely peaceful about watching the day turn to night while immersed in the vast quietude of the endless ocean.


Having had a beautiful night’s sleep aboard the gently rocking Tiara, I was excited to find out what the team had planned for us. I know that swimming with humpback whales is a rare opportunity, and I was glad to be with a crew of experts. Our main man, Tom Conlin, wrote the Dominican Republic’s regulations and safety protocol regarding whale-watching. He is an expert. He was full of knowledge about the whales but also showed great love and respect for them.  

Todd Thimios

We set out from Tiara on a very impressive tender, Y Nut Coconut, a 68-foot Viking motor yacht that was more appropriate for Silver Bank. The North Atlantic Ocean in this area can be very shallow, sometimes only 18 meters deep, and is home to a lot of coral. There are restrictions on the number of boats allowed into Silver Bank, with all boats having to obtain permission before entering the area. In fact, Tiara was one of only four yachts permitted to enter that year.

After quietly shadowing the whales for a while, it was time to get into the water, and I was anxious. I know they’re not dangerous to us, but with their sheer size, they’re certainly intimidating. However, when Tom said “Go!”, I went. My first reaction? I was shocked. I’ve never been so close to such a large mammal in my life. I felt so helpless. There in the water, I couldn’t fight, I couldn’t run. All I could do was sit and watch this giant deftly glide past me.

Todd Thimios

...and that was it. I was hooked. Having got over the initial feelings of helplessness I no longer felt a sense of danger but more a feeling of connection to the whales. To see them so close, to see the sheer enormity of them and the grace within which they move, I was mesmerized by this gentle display of nature’s raw power. 

Todd Thimios

Over the four days aboard Tiara, making daily trips out to dive with the whales, I felt like I got to know them much better. You get a sense they are curious about us too. The calves would often come and greet us at the boat, swimming alongside us as if they wanted to play. I saw young adult whales doing flips out of the water, slapping their tails against the surface, all with a sense of play and no signs of aggression. Majestic.

Todd Thimios

Todd Thimios

Of all my experiences of swimming with the humpback whales, one I’ll never forget was when we encountered a male and female couple sleeping together. They were stomach to stomach, and upon being woken, began to dive, rise, twist, and turn together as if they were two sides of a mirror. It was awe-inspiring, probably the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen, and I felt like the dance they did was a spectacle they were only too happy to put on for us.

Todd Thimios

The night before I left Tiara to go back to LA, we had a Bohemian-style party in the yacht’s Bedouin tent. As we settled into the evening, the conversation eventually turned to the topic of the day: the whales. We shared our stories of the past few days with smiles and laughs at the times we’d shared but there was a sense of calm among us that none could put into words. Like we were all changed for the experience. Relaxed. At peace. Like the whales had brought us back to the rhythm of our true nature. Quite simply, happy.

EliteLYFE is a specialist provider of luxury travel packages with access to elite level events, experiences, and excursions such as my trip to Silver Bank aboard Tiara. For more information on chartering Tiara or to explore the range of super yachts available worldwide, contact EliteLYFE at your convenience.

Todd Thimios