Sea Kayaking & Whale Watching on Baja's Pacific Coast

While most sea kayak trips in Baja take place in the Sea of Cortez, this one is unique because we paddle on the Pacific Coast, or west side of the peninsula. The highlights of the trip are paddling in protected waters with giant sand dunes stretching to the west and mangroves to the east. We paddle approximately 40 miles in the five-day kayaking portion of the journey, making this a beginner to intermediate sea kayaking trip. The trip is supported by a motorized panga that carries our camp gear and arrives at camp earlier than the kayakers, so camp can be partially set up by the time the group arrives.  We travel from north to south, and our first night is spent at our fabulous whale camp set at the northern mouth of Magdalena Bay.  Our journey from the port town of Adolpho Lopez Mateos to camp doubles as a two-hour whale watching session.  Once at camp, settle into stand-up height canvas tents with cots, pads and warm sleeping bags. This is where we include two whale watching sessions as part of the experience. One of the four main birthing lagoons of the gray whales, Mag Bay, as it’s known, is defined by several islands that create a barrier between the vast Pacific and mainland Baja. On one of these islands sits our whale watching camp, the most beautiful whale watching camp location in all of Baja. We relish an afternoon at camp with time for a hike across the dunes to the open Pacific Ocean. In late afternoon, appetizers are served, followed by dinner. In the evening our naturalist guides give a presentation on the natural history of whales. These presentations are a highlight for many guests and provide meaningful insight into the biology of whales and other marine life. The next morning we leave camp and again, enjoy a two-hour whale watching session as we head south to the start of the kayak portion of the trip.

Unlike the Sea of Cortez, where winds sometimes create challenges to our routes, this bay is protected by coastal islands, so normally, winds are gentle and we don’t have to worry about winds interfering with our paddling. As we kayak south on protected waters, we make time to glide among the labyrinthian mangroves that are full of life. One of the most important ecosystems in the world, mangroves filter fresh water coming from land, and buffer the shores from erosion. Their roots provide protection and food for a wide variety of fish species and their thick branches are home to a host of seabirds who feed and nest among the protective foliage. 

The marvelous sand dunes create magical camping conditions.  Our camps are set within the undulating dunes, where open space beckons the explorer. In camp there’s plenty of time for wandering and discovery, learning about a fascinating and specialized ecosystem where life is bountiful, but not obvious.

The gray whales are generally in Baja from late December to late April. Because Magdalena Bay is the furthest south and thus the farthest point away from the migration’s starting point in the Arctic, the whales tend to arrive a little later and leave a little earlier compared to the other two lagoons. Thus, to make sure we have the best chances of seeing the whales in Magdalena Bay, we offer this trip from latter January to early March only. 

This Baja kayaking tour begins and ends in Loreto, where there is easy access by air from the US and Canada, as well as flights from Tijuana. We provide all the kayaking and camping gear required, making your travel more convenient. We invite you to join us to discover a part of Baja that few visit and is rich with rewards for the curious paddler!

Gray Whales of Baja California Sur:

Each fall the gray whales of the northeastern Pacific migrate south from the Arctic and Alaska to the safe lagoons of Baja California. It’s a journey they’ve made for tens of thousands of years. Having spent the late spring and summer months feeding, the whales are prepared for this long journey south, an impressive migration of some 6000 miles. It takes a few months to transit from north to south, and by mid-December the first whales are arriving at the more northerly Ojo de Liebre lagoon, formerly known as Scammon’s Lagoon.  

Captain Scammon was a whaler who first found these breeding locations of the gray whale during the whaling era. Within 100 years the whales had been hunted to near extinction. Scammon eventually became appalled by the slaughter, but in his years as a whaler, he kept observant notes and sketches of the whales, providing us with details that contained the largest body of knowledge of gray whales until the 1970’s. From a post-whaling period low of maybe 2000 gray whales in the eastern Pacific, the population now fluctuates between 22,000 and 32,000 depending on cycles of food, weather and unknown elements.

The gray whales come to two other lagoons that are south of Oje de Liebre. San Ignacio, where the first “friendly” encounter between man and whale happened in the 1970’s; and Magdalena Bay which is the furthest south. Today, in all three of these bays or lagoons, there is a certain percentage of the population of whales that exhibit “friendly” behavior.  For whatever reason, these whales seek out human contact. They choose to approach the whale-watching skiffs, even though they have the wide-open sea before them. The mothers even push their calves close to the boats. It’s one of the world’s most incredible wildlife experiences to look into the eye of a whale just a few feet away. For some, it is a powerfully spiritual moment, while for others, it is truly exhilarating and awe-inspiring.

On our Magical Magdalena Bay trip, you enjoy the best of two experiences – whale watching and sea kayaking.  During our kayaking, each evening is spent with nothing but space and the glory of nature surrounding us. At our whale camp we watch the whales from shore and, because of the deep water frontage of the camp, the whales (as well as dolphins) come very close to shore. We also head out for two, two-hour excursions in small skiffs, or pangas as they are called locally, with our naturalist guides. This is a chance for close-up viewing, even smelling the breath of the whales and feeling the force of their exhalation when they release air from their blowholes! We’ve seen whales mating, mothers milking, whales breaching and so much more on these marvelous adventures.

Images & Videos

sunset over kayak camp on baja beach
sea kayaks along baja pacific coast
group sitting at camp table on sand
bird in baja mangrove
sea kayak in baja
sea kayaking group
coyote in Baja
baja local food in pan
baja sea kayak guide in kayak
mangroves and sand dunes on baja pacific coast
group of kayak paddlers resting together
kayaks resting on baja beach at sunset
man walking on sandy beach
two camping tents on sand dunes
dolphins on the pacific coast of baja
sunset over Magdalena bay in baja
people hiking across baja sand dunes
people standing on sandy beach smiling
couple sitting side by side in small boat
grey whale in front of small fishing boat in baja
large canvas tents set up on sandy beach
people sitting in a circle on chairs in a geodesic dome
historic mission and palm tree in baja california
whale watching in baja
sunset over kayak camp on baja beach
sea kayaks along baja pacific coast
group sitting at camp table on sand
bird in baja mangrove
sea kayak in baja
sea kayaking group
coyote in Baja
baja local food in pan
baja sea kayak guide in kayak
mangroves and sand dunes on baja pacific coast
group of kayak paddlers resting together
kayaks resting on baja beach at sunset
man walking on sandy beach
two camping tents on sand dunes
dolphins on the pacific coast of baja
sunset over Magdalena bay in baja
people hiking across baja sand dunes
people standing on sandy beach smiling
couple sitting side by side in small boat
grey whale in front of small fishing boat in baja
large canvas tents set up on sandy beach
people sitting in a circle on chairs in a geodesic dome
historic mission and palm tree in baja california
whale watching in baja

Itinerary

Collapse all days

Day 0

Arrive in Loreto:

Upon arrival at the Loreto Airport take a quick cab ride to your hotel. After checking in (not included in the tour cost) you are on your own to explore Loreto, take a walk down the malecon, or relax by the hotel pool before your evening orientation meeting.  At the orientation meeting you will meet your guides who will give you details about the plan for the next morning and answer any questions you may have.

Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.

ACCOMMODATION : (not included)

Day 1

Travel to Adolpho Lopez Mateos, Whale Watching and Whale Camp

We depart from Loreto, Baja, Mexico early in the morning and drive about two and a half hours across the Baja peninsula to the coastal town of Adolpho Lopez Mateos. 

On arrival in Lopez Mateos, we board a panga (motorized skiff) piloted by one of the local fishermen. We work with a local fishing cooperative for our whale watching, and our trips are a significant contributor to their income, which substitutes for commercial fishing during the two months of the whale watching season. Before launching, we discuss a few “rules of respect” relative to whale-watching and head out. There is palpable excitement in the air as we see whales blow, perhaps breach, and swim in the protected waters of Magdalena Bay. When we find a whale that seems relatively stationary, we cut our motors and float. It’s then up to the whale to engage with us or not. Sometimes they choose to swim away. Sometimes they approach us, coming right up to the edge of our 22’ (7 meter) boats. If we don’t interact with the whales, they quickly lose interest and leave. 

After about two hours of whale watching we arrive at our camp. We welcome you with lunch, and after people have settled into their comfortable stand-up canvas tents, our guides lead a nature hike across the dunes to the open Pacific. The camp is set near the channel that joins the ocean to the lagoon and often whales are traveling through this opening, either entering or exiting the lagoon. We sometimes see whales passing fairly close to camp, as well as dolphins.

Soon it's time for appetizers, followed by a dinner of typical Mexican fare prepared by our local cook. After dinner, we gather in our camp dome which is the perfect setting for a presentation on the natural history of the gray whales. Guests love these interactive sessions where we all learn about the lives of these giant sea creatures. Our guides have a depth of knowledge they love to share. Some are marine biologists and others grew up in fishing families. They bring passion to their talks and hope to create more advocates for the protection of the whales and the world’s oceans.

The evening sky may invite stargazers, and soon it's time for bed.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach Camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Lunch, Dinner

Day 2

Sea Kayaking, Sand Dunes and Mangroves

Soon after sunrise we eat a hearty breakfast, pack up our gear and get on a panga for another two-hour whale watching session. We travel south, returning to Lopez Mateos where our kayaks are waiting.  Our guides give a thorough safety orientation and we begin our paddle south.  We don't go too far before it's time to stop for lunch on an expansive beach. A few more miles of paddling and we arrive at our first night of kayak camping.  The guides quickly set up the kitchen as guests set up their tents if our panga crew hasn't already.  You may be ready for a rest, or perhaps a walk through the dunes to soak in the beauty of raw nature.  As the sun sets, appetizers are served, followed by dinner and a starlit sky.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach Camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3-5

Sea Kayaking, Sand Dune Hiking, Wildlife Viewing

Time slows down in nature and being unplugged is part of the joy of this trip.  Soon after sunrise we fuel up with breakfast.   Soon we're in our kayaks and paddling south.  These are days to relish life and wide-open spaces. Very few people visit this area, so the sense of isolation and raw nature is palpable. Wind-swept dunes rise above the salt water, providing home for many species of plants and animals. Your guides share their knowledge of this ecosystem, but the main reward comes from simple observation. Back on the water, we continue our way. We paddle through the narrowest channel of our trip, the Curva del Diablo. We fall into a peaceful paddling rhythm, soaking in the salty air while also enjoying each stroke. We paddle among the mangroves and along the edges of the dunes.  Our lunch stops give us more time to explore and rejuvenate. Late afternoon we arrive at camp, each slightly different, but all offering options for walking, relaxing with a book, or simply watching the sea. 

ACCOMMODATION : Beach Camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Morning paddle, Arrive San Carlos, Return to Loreto

Today is one of our longer paddles as we travel around 12 miles south with a mountainous island on our right and mangroves on our left.  Salt air fills our lungs while seabirds fly overhead.  The channel gradually opens into a larger bay and around lunchtime we arrive in the fishing town of San Carlos.  After lunch we load up the kayaks and begin our three hour drive northeast to Loreto.  On arrival check into your hotel.  Together with your guides enjoy a no-host dinner at a local restaurant.

Note:  If you have the time, we encourage you to extend your trip by joining one of our one-day excursions from Loreto.  These include a day of blue whale watching, hiking in Tabor canyon or a visit to the mission town of San Javier. 

ACCOMMODATION : Not Included
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Featured Accommodation

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD)
Jan 20, 2025 to Jan 25, 2025
Lowest Tier Price
$2,320£0€0$0$0$2,320£0€0$0$0
Jan 27, 2025 to Feb 01, 2025
Lowest Tier Price
$2,320£0€0$0$0$2,320£0€0$0$0
Feb 03, 2025 to Feb 08, 2025
Lowest Tier Price
$2,320£0€0$0$0$2,320£0€0$0$0
Feb 17, 2025 to Feb 22, 2025
Lowest Tier Price
$2,320£0€0$0$0$2,320£0€0$0$0

Supplementary Information

2025 Rates:

  • 4-6 Guests $2430 per person
  • 7-13 Guests  $2320 per person

INCLUDED:

  • Full services of our Adventure Consultants
  • Knowledgable, talented bi-lingual guides
  • All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
  • All transportation while on tour
  • Two two-hour whale watching sessions aboard motorized skiffs
  • All kayaking equipment
  • One night at our whale camp with canvas tents and cots; four nights nomadic camping in smaller dome-style tents
  • Panga supported kayaking tour
  • Taxes

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the airport
  • Hotel before and after the tour 
  • $30 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

Single Supplement: Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost. (limited amount of single tents available at no charge, per departure)

ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. 

*Please Note: Each whale-watching session is two hours in length.  We cannot guarantee the presence of whales during our trip.  We have set the dates for our whale watching season to conform to the date range that the whales are usually in Magdalena Bay.  However, we cannot control their movements, or when they might arrive at the bay, or leave to swim north towards the end of the season.  We have chosen conservative dates to improve the odds of seeing whales.  Tides are also a factor as during low tide, any whales that leave the bay cannot enter again until the tides are higher.  Because of the south-to-north migration pattern that starts in March, we end our season at Magdalena Bay around the third week of March and either move trips north to San Ignacio Bay or sometimes south to Puerto Chale.  Snorkeling is not a highlight of this trip as the water is only semi-transparent and the ecosystem doesn't support marine life similar to what is found on the Gulf of California side of the Baja Peninsula.

We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, we reserve the right to change the itinerary should we feel we can improve your whale watching experience or for any other reason.  As well, tour itineraries or subcontractors (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 concerns or questions you may have.  We provide all our guests with a pre-trip email with the most current details within a month of your tour.  It is your responsibility to  read all communicaitons that we send you.   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.

Reviews

5
Average: 5 (5 votes)

Reviews

Google Review
5

I would highly recommend this trip

This was my first experience booking with Row Adventures/ Sea Kayak Adventures. From my initial contact with Morag in the Idaho office through the end of the trip, I found all staff to be very welcoming, knowledgeable and professional. Our Magdalena Bay adventure started with Whale Camp in the north and then we paddled south. It's relatively easy paddling but the scenery is simply spectacular. Each night's camp was on a beach but the backdrop to each was "same same but very different". Nathan's meals were simply delicious. I'm now a fan of Mexican food. For our group of 11, we had 2 Guides with us on the water at all times. Both 'Remarkable' and 'Amazing' (our guides) shared their knowledge of the area, ensured people's safety while providing the group a positive experience. Both Amarantha and Lorena were a perfect fit for the group. I would highly recommend this trip for all level of paddlers.

5

whales whales every where

Waited 10 years to take the trip Worth every minute of the wait Unbelievable adventure The stuff was incredible Memories for a lifetime

5

Unforgettable Wildlife and Incredible Landscapes

This trip starts with the magic of Whale Camp and then takes many steps further as you escape the whale watching boats and journey further into the hidden reaches of Magdalena Bay. We were fortunate enough to have some close gray whale encounters without another boat in sight midway through the trip. The gray whales really are incredible, and while they are the main attraction, we also saw a myriad of birds, pods of dolphins, and coyotes. The added bonus, of course, is to see this wildlife from a kayak, which is a totally different experience from the motorized pangas. The landscapes are otherworldly, with stunning sand dunes rising on one side of the channel and vibrant mangroves occupying the opposite bank. Because you're following a narrow peninsula, you are treated to fantastic sunrises and sunsets. The food is delicious and the guides are personable, helpful, and enjoyable to be around. If you're looking for gray whales, but want something more involved than just Whale Camp, this trip is perfect. The solitude, adventure, wildlife, kayaking, and people will have make this trip one you won't ever forget.

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FAQ & More

How is this trip different than your other Baja kayak tours?

This trip takes place on the Pacific Coast side of the Baja Peninsula rather than the Gulf of California side. It’s a totally different environment with somewhat cooler waters of the Pacific, and a landscape of sand dunes and mangroves rather than mountains and rocks.  Both areas are beautiful and we highly recommend this trip due to the isolated nature of the area.  The timing of this trip is also set to take advantage of the presence of the gray whales in Baja.

Would I see the same kind of whales on this trip as other Baja kayak tours?

This trip features amazing viewing of gray whales. Gray whales do not travel in the Gulf of California. There we see blue whales, humpbacks and sometimes other species. During the gray whale camp part of this trip, a big difference is that generally the whales come very close to our whale-watching skiffs.

Will a serious paddler be satisfied on this trip?

The trip covers 40 miles during five days. There are two days when we paddle about 10 miles, one rather short day and a couple days with six to eight mile paddles. Because the area is protected winds generally do not interfere with our paddling plans.

How do I get to Loreto?

Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.

What’s included in this kayak package? What’s not included?

Included: Skilled professional guide services, ground transportation, motorboat-support to carry gear, camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, liners, and sleeping pads. Our camping trips include all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.

Not Included: Airfare, transportation to and from airport, hotels before and after kayaking, gratuities and items of a personal nature.

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.

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?

When you get to your evening campsite all group members must be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line. You will change campsites almost every night, 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.

What happens if it’s too windy to paddle?

If it’s too windy to paddle your guides will have alternative activities for guests to enjoy. There are opportunities to hike or just relax on the beach with a margarita. We plan our itineraries to minimize risks posed by weather, but there is always an element of unpredictability in nature. The risk capsizing is reduced by our stable boats, but exists. All of our kayak guides are certified in kayak rescue.

Can I fish?

In general, fishing is allowed in Loreto/La Paz. You would need to obtain a fishing license either before arriving or upon arrival. Our guides will not allow fishing if you are unable to produce a valid license. You will also need to bring all of your own fishing equipment. Along our kayaking routes there are areas where fishing is allowed, the guides will let you know where fishing is prohibited. Also, fishing is only allowed at the guide's discretion, as we have an itinerary, schedule and other group members that we have to take into consideration.

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 and paddling 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!

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 any extensions I can add to the beginning or end of my trip?

If you will be extending your stay in lovely Loreto before or after your tour, we are happy to arrange a Tour Extension option to help you explore Baja. Please inquire with the office if you would like to add on a tour extension to your reservation.

Where can I store my luggage while I’m on your tour?

You can leave your luggage at your hotel while you are on tour. We recommend getting a luggage lock if you are leaving any electronics in the bags. We’ve never had any issues with guests leaving their bags at hotels but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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.

Can I bring a drone on the trip?

Due to Mexican Park regulations, drones can only be operated by special permit.  Because of this, and the potential of impacting others' experiences on our trips, we ask guests not to bring drones.

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