Baja Whale Watching and Kayaking
Our most popular wildlife adventure in Baja combines sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez with whale watching in Magdalena Bay, one of the major calving lagoons for gray whales. This is the ultimate Baja trip, combining one of the most incredible wildlife encounters on the planet (touching grey whales) - and sea kayaking through the magnificent beauty of Loreto Bay National Marine Park in the Sea of Cortez. Go eye-to-eye with gray whales in a calving lagoon on Baja's Pacific coast and then cross the Baja Peninsula to paddle a kayak alongside dolphins and blue whales in the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. Our Sea of Cortez Kayaking and Magdalena Bay Whale Watching Combo tours let participants get close to whales, explore desert islands by sea kayak and snorkel along isolated coves in warm, turquoise waters.
Magdalena Bay is sheltered from the Pacific Ocean by a barrier of desert islands. The sandy barrier islands protect the lagoons from oceanic currents, creating a fascinating environment of twisting mangrove-lined estuaries, chaotic sand dunes and blooming desert plants. January through March, hundreds of gray whales mate and bear their young in these protected waters after traveling over 5000 miles from the Bering Strait.
You can watch gray whales and their newly born calves up close from the safety of motorized skiffs in the deeper parts of the bay, where friendly whales swim up to the skiffs for a head rub! Breaching, spy-hopping and fluking, the whales will captivate your attention with their behavior and we guarantee whale sightings.
You'll stay three days at our exclusive whale camp located at a remote beach on a barrier island in the heart of gray whale activity. In addition to whales, the lagoon is home to dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, and thousands of shorebirds. Your guides will introduce you to the desert plants, birds and other wildlife of Bahia de Magdalena on our Baja whale watching tour.
Then head back over to Loreto for three days of Baja sea kayaking and camping on remote islands in Loreto Bay National Marine Park, where the surrounding water is a sanctuary for blue-footed boobies, fin and blue whales, dolphins and sea lions. The Sea of Cortez is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers the perfect blend of Baja kayaking, hiking and snorkeling. Abundant wildlife, massive whales, sunny weather and warm, crystalline waters make the Sea of Cortez one of the best winter adventure destinations in North America and Mexico.
With each of these tours, your first and last nights will be hotel-based in Loreto with an extra hotel night between kayaking and whale watching. All activities are led by naturalist guides, who dish out tasty chile relleno and margaritas in tented beach camps at days end. You'll bring home a lifetime of memories.
Note: If you're looking for more kayaking, please see our 3+5 whale watching and kayaking trip.
Images & Videos
Arrive in Loreto, Evening Orientation Meeting
Upon your arrival in Loreto take a quick cab ride to your hotel and check into your room (Not included in trip cost). Spend your afternoon exploring the beautiful town of Loreto. You can tour the historic Mission located in the center of town, stroll through the local market and dine on authentic Mexican cuisine before meeting your guides in the Hacienda Suites hotel lobby for an evening orientation meeting.
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Notes on Itinerary for Days 2 - 7:
- Approximate paddling distances listed and can vary depending on group size and weather. We will do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above. However, the itinerary may change due to reasons beyond our control such as wind, waves or inclement weather.
- We run this itinerary in both directions - in other words, your trip may start with kayaking and finish with whale watching, or start with whale watching and finish with kayaking.
- Although there is a very good chance we'll see whales and other marine life throughout the week, the frequency, proximity, and quality of sightings will ultimately be determined by the wildlife.
Whale Watching in Magdalena Bay
At 7:30am SHARP a van will arrive to transport you two hours to Puerto Lopez Mateos, Magdalena Bay on the Pacific Coast. Here you will have your first whale watching session as you take a federally-licensed skiff from Puerto Lopez Mateos out to Santo Domingo Island where Whale Camp is located. Upon arrival to camp you will have a chance to unload your gear and settle into your pre-assembled tent before sitting down to a hearty lunch. After lunch, your guides will lead you on a hike across the dunes of Santo Domingo Island to the Pacific Ocean where you can then meander down the beach back to camp for happy hour and dinner under the stars.
Whale Watching in Magdalena Bay
Arise to the sounds of birds chirping and waves lapping the shore as coffe and tea are prepared to great you and the morning sun. Feel free to stroll along the beach, sip your coffee, and watch the whales as your guides prepare a hot breakfast. You will have two whale watching sessions by federally-licensed skiff today, with plenty of time for dune walking, hiking, and relaxing on the sand while whales frolic offshore. You can also elect to do birding tours in the mangrove areas of the lagoon instead of whale watching, or part whale watching, part birding sessions.
Return to Loreto
You will enjoy one final two hour whale watching session after breakfast in the morning before returning to Puerto Lopez Mateo by skiff. Take a few minutes when returning to Puerto Lopez Mateo to explore the small local shops at the port and possibly purchase a commemorative token before heading out to enjoy a hot seafood lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch check back into the tour hotel for a shower or stroll along the waterfront malecon before an orientation meeting, located in the lobby of the tour hotel, for the kayaking portion of your tour.
Time to go Kayaking
Please eat breakfast and be packed by the meeting time, where you will be shuttled to the kayak put-in site. After loading the boats, your guides will teach you the basics of paddling and thoroughly review safety procedures. The group won't leave shore until all participants feel comfortable. You’ll make 50-minute, 2 to 3-mile crossings to the off-shore islands where you’ll have a chance to snorkel and hike before lunch, and then kayak to your first night's
campsite. Roomy dome tents are provided, although with Baja's lack of insects you may be tempted to sleep out under the stars. Several campsites have desert arroyo hikes which offer spectacular views as well as some of the desert flora unique to Baja.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
With the smell of coffee and hearty breakfast wafting through the air as you arise in the morning to get ready for a day of paddling. While paddling you will explore the scenic cliffs and coves of Isla Danzante and Isla Carmen. Opportunites for snokeling, beachcombing, and hiking will be mixed into your day before you settle down at the next campsite for dinner and star gazing.
Return to Loreto
After a final breakfast, you will paddle to the take-out site and unpack your kayak while the guides prepare lunch. A van will return you to the hotel mid-afternoon to relax and clean up. In the evening, you are invited to join your group for a final no-host farewell dinner to say good-bye and toast new found kayaking skills and friends.
There are no scheduled activites today so you may depart Loreto at any time.
Note on itinerary: We will do our best to adhere to the schedule however changes may occur due to reasons beyond our control such as wind, waves, or inciement weather. PLEASE NOTE that sometimes the kayak portion of the tour may precede the gray whale portion.
Dates & Rates
Departure Details: 2023 Dates
Single Supplement: If you are a solo traveler and wish to have your own hotel room in Loreto (or if we are unable to pair you up with another solo traveler), an additional single supplement of $52.50 USD is required. Single kayaks are available to reserve and use throughout the trip for an additional cost of $100. Please note, you must have previous ocean paddling experience to reserve a single kayak.
Solo travelers will always be provided with a single tent while kayaking, but may be asked to share a large stand-up canvas tent with another guest at Magdalena Bay Whale Camp.If you are asked to share a tent at our whale camp, rest assured that tents are very spacious, full-height canvas wall tents, with two cots and plenty of room to stand and maneuver around your tent-mate without difficulty. Please inquire at time of booking if you have any questions.
- Full services of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
- All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
- Hotel accommodations between activities as dictated by the itinerary
- All transportation while on tour
- All kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
- Whale watching sessions by Panga
- Panga supported kayaking tour
Tour Does Not Include:
- Transportation to and from the airport
- Hotel accommodations Before and After tour
- Breakfast on the morning between kayaking days and whale camp
- $30 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
- Items of a personal nature
WEATHER-CAUSED TRIP ALTERATIONS
Strong winds and/or rough water conditions sometimes prevent our trips from going as scheduled. We are at the mercy of nature, as well as the local Port Captains who determine if ports are open or closed. In particular, on our La Paz-based trips, winds may prevent us from crossing from the Port to Espiritu Santo Island which may also be reason for the Port Captain to close the port or prohibit crossing. In these cases there are different solutions. Sometimes we have to delay the crossing by a day or two, or have to leave Espiritu Santo Island a day or two early. In these cases we provide a substitute activity for the day(s) we cannot kayak. If the weather forecast predicts a series of days with strong winds, we also reserve the right to transfer the trip to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific Coast, which is almost always in calm, protected waters. We recognize this isn't ideal, however we have no control over nature. Most people prefer to still have a trip going, versus no kayak trip at all. Decisions to alter trips are not made until the last minute*, since we are basing our decisions on wind and weather forecasts that can change. Your guides will inform you at the evening orientation meeting if the trip location has changed or the itinerary has been altered. We use apps like Windy or Windfinder Pro to monitor winds and forecasts. The safety and security of our trips is the primary focus of our decisions.
If you purchase Trip Insurance and wish to cancel on the day of the trip, the "Trip Interruption" coverage may apply if Mexican authorities have closed the Port. If you have questions about your coverage, call the toll-free number on your Travel Insurance policy to ask. Neither our guides nor our office staff can determine if coverage will apply. Sea Kayak Adventures does reserve the right to modify and alter trip itineraries and in these circumstances will not provide any refund of trip monies paid.
*Last-minute means no sooner than noon the day prior. Final information will be provided at the evening orientation meeting.
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
FAQ & More
How do I get to Loreto?
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Do you provide transportation to and from the airport?
Airport transfers are not included in your tour package price.
Are your tour prices in USD?
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
What’s included in this tour package? What’s not included?
Packages Include: Hotel accommodations in between activities only, all paddling and camping equipment, all snorkeling gear, all meals and beverages once the tour begins, all National Parks & Biosphere Reserve access fees required by itinerary, bi-lingual certified Guides and the full service of our Adventure Consultants. Dates provided reflect your arrival date; all packages include an arrival and departure day.
Packages do not Include: Airfare, transportation to and from airport, Hotel accommodations before and after tour, gratuities, $25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary, and items of a personal nature.
When is the best time to go & see whales?
Our Combo tours are offered late January through mid-March, when the gray whales are present in Magdalena Bay to calve. We GUARANTEE gray whale sightings on our combo tours! This time of year in Baja can have cooler days (75-80*F/23-27*C) and a chance of wind, with temperatures rising in late February and March. As an added bonus to spring trips, the islands of Loreto National Marine Park, located in the Sea of Cortez (where you will kayak), are home for 6 different species of whales including Blue, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Bryde's and Pilot whales. They swim up into the Sea of Cortez from late January through April. There are few other places that harbor such a concentration and diversity of whales.
What kind of kayaks do you use?
For all of our Baja tours we use high quality, fiberglass kayaks, made by Seward. The majority of our fleet is comprised of tandems, as these boats offer the greatest stability, speed, and ease of paddling. There are typically a small number of single kayaks present on the tour, which will be utilized by the guides. Depending on weather conditions, and interest, they may allow guests to rotate into singles; however this will be at the guide's' discretion based on safety and the paddling objectives for the day. We also have a limited number of solo kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost) for paddlers who have ocean kayaking experience.
Are your kayak trips motorboat supported?
Yes, if at any time a guest does not want to paddle they are welcome to ride in the panga instead.
Can I paddle a single kayak?
We have single kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost of $100) for paddlers who have previous ocean paddling experience. If you would like to reserve a single kayak for your trip you will need to contact our Adventure Consultants to add this to your reservation and provide a summary of your ocean paddling experience.
What are the physical requirements for this trip?
When stopping at shore, you should be able to climb in and out of the kayaks on your own. They will be floating in calf-deep water. Your guides are happy to assist, but balance and limberness are required. When you get to your evening campsite, all group members must to be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line, in teams of 6-8, before the group disperses. You will change camp sites almost every night, but may have a layover day. Camp sites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour.
What’s camp like? Are there toilets and showers at camp?
During the kayaking portion of the tour, you will paddle to a new campsite almost every day but may have a layover day. Campsites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour. We endeavor to secure the very best campsites for the natural beauty and amenities of the area. Your guides will give a demonstration of how to set up and take down your provided dome tent. We also will provide you with a sleeping bag, liner sheet, pillow and an inflatable thermarest sleeping pad. There will be a kitchen/dining area and shade tarps where you can sit back and relax. While kayaking, we can only carry enough fresh water for drinking and cooking. There are no fresh water sources on most of the coastline and islands we visit. You can clean up with saltwater and soap off above the high tide line, or bring disposable shower wipes. A porta potty will fit into a hatch of the kayak or on the panga support boat, and will be transported to each campsite and set into a sheltered area for solid waste. Liquid waste can be expelled below the high tide line, or in a separate porta-potty bucket.
While on the whale watching portion of the tour, you will stay at our exclusive base camp located on a sand-dune barriers island. Our whale camp has pre-assembled roomy full-height wall tent with two cots, night stand, rectangular sleeping bag with clean sheet, small pillow, and comfortable self-inflating pad are provided for your convenience at camp. There is also a washroom tent with a portable toilet. We recommend packing biodegradable shower wipes to freshen up with as there is no fresh water at whale camp.
What gear do I need?
Sea Kayak Adventures will provide you with a detailed packing list prior to your trip. We provide all of the necessary camping, paddling and snorkeling equipment, which you will need to fully enjoy your adventure. If you are interested in more specific information, check out our general Baja packing list here! If you have any questions, or need help deciding what to bring, you can call or e-mail one of our friendly Adventure Consultants at any time for some extra advice!
Who will my guides be?
We know your Guide will make the biggest difference on your trip! Which is why we pride ourselves on employing only the best local guides for all of the incredible locations that we visit. Part of this is to support our eco-tourism efforts, but we also believe that there is no better way to experience a new destination than through they eyes of a local! We find talented and skilled local guides, train and certify them, and provide a positive and consistent source of income to them and their families. Most of our guides are with us for the long-term, despite the seasonal nature of the industry.
What kind of food will I eat? Do you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Our renowned wilderness meals are prepared daily by our guides using local, fresh, healthy ingredients. In Baja you can expect an authentic dining experience, with savory dishes like chiles rellenos, tostadas, ceviche, and chicken mole. We even serve delicious desserts like brownies and pineapple upside-down cake! Each morning, we serve up freshly brewed coffee or tea. Throughout the day we provide an abundance of local fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. Wine and mixed drinks are served with hors d’oeuvres each evening for happy hour.
We do our best to accommodate special dietary requests, working within the parameters of the destinations in which we operate. If you have a very strict diet, we recommend packing extra snacks that you know you can eat.
What’s the weather like in Baja?
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Is there a single supplement fee for solo travelers?
Our tour costs are based on double occupancy on any included hotel nights. Solo travelers who would like their own single hotel room can pay a single supplement or can be matched up with another solo traveler of the same gender if one is available and willing to share. If we are unable to pair you with another solo traveler, we must apply the single supplement charge to cover our hotel costs. Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, and will typically have their own tent at whale camp, both at no additional cost. However, we are unable to guarantee individual tents at whale camp due to limited tent capacity. If you are asked to share a tent at our whale camp, rest assured that tents are very spacious, full-height canvas wall tents, with two cots and plenty of room to stand and maneuver around your tent-mate without difficulty.
Do I Get to Touch the Whales and What is a "Friendly" Whale?
Some of the gray whales in Baja exhibit what is known as "friendly" behavior. While they have the entire sea as their home, some whales choose to come very close to our boats to interact. When this happens, there are times when it is appropriate to touch the whales. In fact, if we don't interact they will sometimes swim away in search of another boat of humans to play with. We can't know the emotion that the whales are experiencing, but clearly they have a choice to approach the boats or not. Equally fascinating is the fact that often these friendly whales bring their babies up close as well, sometimes even pushing the calf closer to the whale-watching skiffs. On some tours the whales choose not to get close to us and it's important to remember that these are whale watching trips, not whale touching trips.
What are your Terms and Conditions?
Please see our full Terms & Conditions HERE.
Absolutely magical time
Absolutely magical time sea kayaking and camping on the islands outside of Loretto. Guides were incredibly knowledgeable and all around fabulous. Also spent 3 days doing the whale watching that Sea Kayak Adventures offers in Magdalena Bay. Again, super knowledgeable and wonderful guides. Learned so much and saw more whales than I ever imagined I would-including lots of babies. Highly recommend Sea Kayak Adventures to anyone looking to experience the magic and beautify of BCS. I had very little kayaking experience before this trip, but that didn’t matter at all. Best vacation ever.
There aren't enough superlatives to express our experience on this tour. We kissed baby whales and that should be good enough but there's so much more. We were guided throughout, from the welcome meeting to the goodbyes, by friendly, knowledgeable, helpful men and women. The kayaking was rigorous but measured so that it was never overwhelming; the scenery matched or exceeded the pictures. And this was even though we started in cooler, rainier weather than expected. The whale watching exceeded expectations -- they were really everywhere -- and hearing them from our tents on the beach in the evenings was magical. It was worth the chill to snorkel in the coldish water -- the number and variety of fish/coral/etc. were excellent. To be fair, the beach sleeping for the kayaking leg was in sleeping bags on a mat so that getting cots on the whaling leg was a luxury! (But we're upper-middle aged so...) And the food was wonderful! Better eats on our beaches than in many restaurants. Hope others are as lucky as we were in the enjoyment of our fellow travelers -- everyone was great.
Our experience here in Loreto Baja, kayaking in AMAZING Loreto national Park and then going to see the grey whales close up and lovingly in Magdalena Bay has been a lifetime experience! The expert support, the beautiful accommodations and SUPER YUMMY food, the wonderful boats, the joyous and helpful people guiding us has made this an adventure of a lifetime. Traveling during all the Covid craziness has made it even more precious! Thank you - thank you for arranging our Covid testing so smoothly so we can fly out with confidence. I can’t say enough how this has been the trip of a lifetime and how very grateful I am to ROW Sea kayak adventures!
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