Magdalena Bay Whale Watching
If you're visiting Baja, we highly recommend making time for one of the most incredible wildlife encounters on Earth, gray whale watching in the sheltered Pacific lagoons along the Baja peninsula.
For those who have time, our best gray whale tour in Baja is our 3 or 4-day Magdalena Bay whale camp. However; we realize not everyone has the luxury of time or maybe you've done another exciting adventure and you just want to squeeze a day in to see the gray whales, we don't blame you, they're amazing!
For those looking for a quicker whale watching experience, we offer a full-day tour or a 2-day/1 night visit to our whale camp. On the full-day tour you have one 2-hour whale watching session. On the 2-day tour, there are 2 sessions. Our camp is located on a barrier island with the Pacific coast on the west side and Magdalena Bay on the east. There is no better-located whale camp in all of Baja. From your walk-in tent, you can watch the whales swim by!
Seeing the gray whales in Baja is truly one of the pinnacle wildlife experiences in the world. Using the boats of local fishermen, you visit the whales accompanied by one of our naturalist guides who are a font of information about the whales and natural history of the area. The whales come to Baja each winter to nurse their calves in the first few months of their lives. Thus most of the whales in the bay are mothers with calves.
We always stop our boats at a respectful distance from the whales, giving them comfortable space. It is up to the whales whether to engage with us or not. Curiously, a certain percentage of the population practices what is known as “friendly” behavior and they are known as the “friendlies.” These whales will approach whale-watching boats (pangas) of their own free will. Sometimes a mother will actually nudge her calf towards us. It’s not uncommon for them to come close enough that we can whisper hello to them.
Gray whales grow to around 40’ and the young calves are generally from 12 to 15’ (4-5 meters) in length. They spend their summers in arctic waters feeding. Then in the fall they begin their migration south. Thousands of whales pass by the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California on their way to Baja. It is the longest migration of any mammal in the world, covering some 10,000 miles.
Once they arrive in Baja there are three lagoons that they visit to rest and nurse their newborn calves. Furthest north is Ojo de Liebre (Eye of the Rabbit) where at least half the gray whale births take place. This lagoon or bay was formerly known as Scammon’s Lagoon, named after Captain Charles Scammon, who was a whaler in the 1800s, but also a keen observer and naturalist. In fact, his knowledge of gray whales was not surpassed for another hundred years. He wrote The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America which is considered a classic by many.
Moving south the next whale nursery is San Ignacio Lagoon where we also offer our San Ignacio whale watching tour, We offer this from mid-March to mid-April which is the time when the whales have typically left Magdalena Bay and are moving north.
Further south is Magdalena Bay, the end of the whales’ migration. Fewer whales come here than the lagoons to the north, but because it is the smallest of the three, the whale watching is superb. Both our Magdalena Bay whale camp, and San Ignacio whale watching tour combine with our 3-day kayak programs in the Islands of Loreto National Park on what we call our 3x3 tour.
Extend your multi-day trip with a visit to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula! These are the calving grounds of the gray whale. Here in the shallow waters of the bay, gray whales are becoming world-famous for their "friendly" behavior toward whale watchers. The whales will often bring their calves right up to look back at you! This is one of the world's closest whale encounters.
Images & Videos
*Below is a general outline of our Magdalena Bay day tour itinerary. Please note that this is our ideal schedule; however it may be adjusted due to weather or other items outside our control. Your adventure consultants and guides will brief you with any updates prior to your departure.
7:30am Meet in the Hotel Lobby
Meet at our designated hotel lobby to meet your Sea Kayak Adventures guides. *Please have breakfast on your own before meeting the group as it is not included in your itinerary.
8:00am Depart for Puerto Lopez Mateos
Get an authentic glimpse of Baja as your traverse across the interior of the peninsula during the roughly 2 hour drive. The rolling hills, quaint towns and cacti make for pleasent scenery along the way.
10:00am Arrive in Puerto Lopez Mateos.
Your guides provide a short whale watching orientation before you board a local panga for your 2-hour whale watching session. During the whale watching session you are accompanied by a local driver and one of our Naturalists who share with you detailed information about the gray whales of Baja. Due to the small size of Magdalena Bay and the high number of whales who inhabit the lagoon during the months of January - March, whale observations are plentiful and typically begin shortly after you leave the docks.
12:00-12:30pm Conclude Whale Watching and Lunch
You'll complete your whale watching session before making your way to a local restaurant for an authentic mexican meal served family style. As Puerto Lopez Mateos is a fishing village, you can be sure the seafood will be incredibly fresh!
1:30 - 3:30 Return Drive to Loreto
What to Bring:
Note: Please dress appropriately for the days weather and for being outside in the elements during your whale watching session. Weather on the Pacific can vary and change quickly, so dressing in layers is always a good practice.
- Sun protective clothing and hat
- Small day pack or hip pack with any personal items
- Light jacket or sweater
- Camera (get ready for some superb images!)
Dates & Rates
Please note: $190 per person price is for groups of 4+. For groups of 2-3 a $100 per person surcharge applies.
*Maximum group size of 11. If you have a group larger than 11 people, please contact an Adventure Consultant to set up custom pricing and arrangements.
- Full service of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional, bilingual Sea Kayak Adventures guides
- 2 hour whale watching session
- Transportation to and from Magdalena Bay
- Authentic Mexican lunch