Sea Kayaking and Whale Watching in Baja
Our 3x5 kayaking and whale watching combo tour is the ultimate Baja experience, combining watching the gray whales as they test the waters of the Pacific Ocean with their calve, exploring the beautiful desert islands in the Sea of Cortez by kayak and snorkeling along isolated coves in warm, turquoise waters.
It's truly the ultimate Baja tour. Enjoy 3 days of plush beach side camping at our exclusive Gray Whale Camp on Santo Domingo Island in Magdalena Bay, or later in the season at San Ignacio Bay, where you will get four chances to go eye-to-eye with gray whales then cross the Baja Penninsula to spend five days kayaking in either the quaint town of Loreto or the beautiful island of Espiritu Santo in La Paz.
January through April, hundreds of gray whales mate and bear their young in the protected waters of Magdalena Bay after traveling over 5000 miles from the Bering Strait. A motorized skiff will take you swiftly and safely into the deeper parts of the bay, where you won't just view the "mommy and me" action, you may be able to actually pet some of the whales that swim by. Staying on the island at our camp provides you with the opportunity to be delighted by a host of other wildlife such as dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea gulls, pelicans and more often right from camp! Plush camping allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery while your professional naturalist guides provide you with dinner, drinks, and plenty of education.
As the whales migrate north to arctic waters, we also move our whale watching tours north from Magdalena Bay to San Ignacio Lagoon. This is one of the three prime whale watching areas in Baja, with several hundred whales visiting each winter. While not as close to Loreto as our Magdalena Bay whale camp, traveling to San Ignacio gives us the opportunity to have the powerful experience of getting up close to the gray whales for another month into the spring. To get to San Igancio Lagoon, we drive north from Loreto to the historic French mining town of Santa Rosalia (where we visit a church designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel tower fame) and on to the historic Spanish mission town of San Ignacio. From here it's another hour to the bay and our accommodations.
After you have had your fill of breaching, and spy hopping whales we then head back over to Loreto or La Paz for five days of Baja sea kayaking and camping on remote islands in Loreto Bay National Marine Park or Espiritu Santo, 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 or La Paz 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.
Images & Videos
Arrive in Loreto or La Paz, Evening Orientation Meeting
After checking into your hotel rooms (Not included in trip cost), you're on your own for sightseeing until the orientation meeting (6 or 7 PM) in the Hacienda Suites hotel lobby (Loreto) or the Seven Crown Centro (La Paz), where your guides will answer questions and review the morning plan.
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Whale Watching in Magdalena Bay
Depart at 7:30 am sharp for van transportation two/three hours to the Pacific coast, to Puerto Lopez Mateos on Magdalena Bay. Your first whale-watching session will start immediately upon arrival. You might even see whales right from the dock! At the end of the two-hour session, the boat driver will ferry you across the bay to our exclusive base camp on a sand-dune barrier island. You’ll have a chance to unload your gear and settle into your pre-assembled tent before
a hearty lunch. Your guides will lead a hike across the dunes to the Pacific Ocean this afternoon. You can meander back to camp along the beach in the sunset, just in time for happy hour and dinner under the stars.
Whale Watching in Magdalena Bay
Tea and coffee greet you with the morning sun, and you’re welcome to stroll along the beach and watch whales while 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. Be sure to board the skiff as soon as it arrives, as the clock starts ticking on the strictly regulated 2-hour session.
Return to Loreto or La Paz
You’ll enjoy one final whale watching session after breakfast in the morning before you start your van ride back to Loreto or La Paz. Check back into the tour hotel for a shower or take a stroll along the malecon before an orientation meeting for the kayaking portion of your trip.
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 a 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
Camping and Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
The days begin with spectacular sunrises and end with delightfully cool evenings, enjoying sunsets, star-gazing, moonrise, or even bioluminescence in the sea on moonless nights. You will paddle and explore the scenic cliffs and coves of Danzante and Carmen in the Loreto Bay National Marine Park/UNESCO World Heritage Site. Camping on sandy beaches allows for superb swimming, tide pooling, snorkeling, beachcombing and hiking. Plan to paddle to a new camp site every day, wind permitting, with one layover day at the same site. 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.
Return to Loreto or La Paz
After a final breakfast and breaking camp, you will paddle to the take-out site and unpack your kayak while the guides prepare lunch. A van will return you mid-afternoon. In the evening, you are invited to join your kayak group for a final farewell dinner (no-host) out on the town to say good-byes and toast new found kayaking skills and friends.
There are no activites planned for this day so feel free to depart at any time.
Please Note: This tour involves transportation to and from Loreto or La Paz to the whale camp at Magdalena Bay or San Ignacio Bay. An additional transportation fee will be added to any combo trips running in LaPaz. Guests requesting a trip arriving in La Paz and departing in Loreto (or vice versa), if the option is available, may also be subject to additional fees for shuttle transportation. Please discuss this with our office staff if it's something you're interested in.
As the whales migrate north to arctic waters, we also move our whale watching tours north from Magdalena Bay to San Ignacio Lagoon. This is one of the three prime whale watching areas in Baja, with several hundred whales visiting each winter. While not as close to Loreto as our Magdalena Bay whale camp, traveling to San Ignacio gives us the opportunity to have the powerful experience of getting up close to the gray whales for another month into the spring. To get to San Ignacio Lagoon, we drive north from Loreto to the historic French mining town of Santa Rosalia (where we visit a church designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel tower fame) and on to the historic Spanish mission town of San Ignacio. From here it's another hour to the bay and our accommodations. This trip is offered as a stand-alone whale watching tour, or better yet, combined with sea kayaking in the Islands of Loreto.
OPTIONAL: ADD A DAY TO SNORKEL WITH WHALE SHARKS or
ADD A DAY TO SNORKEL THE CORONADO ISLAND for Loreto or Visit the Beautiful San Javier Mission
Note: If you are not extending your stay to snorkel with whale sharks, day 9 will be your departure day.
Dates & Rates
8-Day Magdalena Bay Whale Camp & Kayak pricing:
*La Paz departure option on Friday dates- $100 transportation fee will be added to the reservation.
If this tour is too long for your travel plans, join us for our 3x3 combo trip!
Single Supplement: If you are a solo traveler and wish to have your own hotel room (or 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 the time of booking if you have any questions.
Please Note: This tour involves transportation to and from Loreto or La Paz to the whale camp at Magdalena Bay. An additional transportation fee of $100 will be added to any combo trips running in LaPaz. Guests requesting a trip arriving in La Paz and departing in Loreto (or vice versa), if the option is available, may also be subject to additional fees for shuttle transportation. Please discuss this with our office staff if it's something you're interested in.
- Full services of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
- All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
- Hotel between activities 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 before and after activities on 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 ARE 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 taxis, 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 such occurrences. 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 a pre-trip email with the 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.
Is there an additional transportation fee for tours out of La Paz?
Yes, there's an additional $100 per person transportation fee for tours out of La Paz.
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 on your tour, 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 activities on your 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 and Conditions HERE.
Whales and Kayaking
This was a very magical trip! Sherman, Edgar, Amaranta, and Monica were so passionate about the whales, birds, flora, and kayaking it was contagious. We so enjoyed spending time with each of them and learning more about Baja, whales, shore birds, and kayaking. All added so much to our Baja experience. The cuisine, cocktails, and conversations were very enjoyable. It was a wonderful winter adventure!
3 day whale watching, 3 day sea kayak combo tour
It would hard to be more enthusiastic about our combo tour. The tour guides were superb. Their knowledge of the flora, fauna, and marine life made our trip more than just viewing and paddling. The meals and libations were welcomed and well prepared. The scenery in the Islands of Loreto was worth the trip alone. My commendations to Sea Kayak Adventures and the ROW family for putting together such a delightful eco-friendly experience.
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