Sea Kayaking & Whale Watching on Baja's Pacific Coast
The Baja Peninsula is defined by the Gulf of California on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The peninsula is only 25 mile wide at its narrowest point and 200 miles at its widest. Yet, each coast is quite distinct, each with its own beauty. This tour focuses on the Pacific Coast side and specifically, Magdalena Bay. 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 beautifully set in all of Baja.
This six-day adventure starts here with an overnight at our private whale-watching camp and two sessions of whale watching. On each session we board small skiffs that allow intimate encounters with the gray whales. After a day at our camp, we begin our paddle south for five days, through a protected body of water, with marvelous sand dunes on the east side and labyrinthian mangroves, full of life, on the west. 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 ecosystem where life if bountiful, but not obvious. 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.
Because the bay is protected by the islands, we don’t have to worry about winds interfering with our paddling. As we paddle south on the protected waters, we may encounter gray whales sharing the same currents. In addition, dolphins sometimes visit these waters. We also have time to glide among the mangroves that filter the water and provide protection and food for a wide variety of fish species and are home to a host of seabirds who both feed and nest among the thick branches.
We paddle approximately 40 miles in our five-day journey, making this a beginner to intermediate sea kayaking trip. Easy access into Loreto, by air from the US and Canada, as well as flights from Tijuana, make this trip convenient to reach. 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!
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 these trips in February and the first two weeks of March. Once latter March has arrived the whales are on their way north again.
Each fall the gray whales of the north eastern 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. Some say it has been a powerful spiritual moment, and 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. 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 in. 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.
After time at our whale camp, we return to the small town of Lopez Mateos, and board our kayaks to being a paddle south. We paddle 5-10 miles each day, allowing time for lunch in the dunes, learning about the desert ecosystem and appreciating life. By late afternoon we arrive at camp, with nothing but space and the glory of nature surrounding us.
Images & Videos
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.
Travel to Lopez Mateos, Whale Watching, Arrive at 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 Lopez Mateos. Here we board our whale-watching panga (motorized skiff) for a two-hour whale watching session. 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 our two hour session, we arrive at our island camp. After a brief camp orientation and moving baggage to the tents, we sit down for a delicious lunch. After lunch it’s time for a walk across the dunes, led by our naturalist guides. We learn about the various dune plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. Soon we arrive at lapping Pacific waves on the beach. Time to take off shoes and let the tingle of sand and water sooth the spirit. Spend as much or little time as you want sauntering along the beach, and make your way back to camp.
In late afternoon we meet in our large camp dome for appetizers and our first 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.
Soon we sit down for dinner, inside the dome or under the stars, depending on weather conditions. We enjoy typical Mexican fare prepared by our local cooks. After dinner, kick back and enjoy the stars, or retire your own walk-in tent replete with cots and air mattresses.
Whale Watching, Sea Kayaking, Beach Camp
Get up with the sun, or later, as you wish. After breakfast we pack up and load back into whale-watching skiffs for another exhilarating session with these gentle giants. We motor out into the lagoon, watching for whales and absorbing the beauty of the bay. We make our way back towards Lopez Mateos as the morning turns to noon. Once back at the town beach, we enjoy lunch, a safety and paddling orientation, and then board our kayaks to start off into the bay. We paddle about three miles today, making for a nice warm up and giving us plenty of time to arrive and set up camp in the dunes. Sunset here is magnificent and those with energy may wish to hike west across the dunes to the Pacific to watch as the sun disappears into the shimmering waters.
Soon it’s time for appetizers, then dinner and star-gazing. We tuck into our kayak-camping tents and dream of whales.
Sea Kayaking, Whale Watching, Wildlife Viewing
We rise soon after the sun and wake up with a morning beverage. After breakfast we put on our kayaking skirts and set out for another day of fun and discovery. We spend some of our time paddling through the narrow channels amid the mangroves. Other times we hug the shore to peer down into clear water at fishes and underwater plants. It’s a beautiful day. By the time we arrive in camp we hope you feel more at one with nature and yourself. We transition to another evening of camaraderie and story-telling, dinner and laughter.
Sea Kayaking, Sand Dune Hiking, Wildlife Viewing
More 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 south. 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.
Sea Kayaking, Puerto San Carlos, Return to Loreto
We rise early today to start our final paddle. It’s a good stretch of paddling, about ten miles total, past more beauty and on to the fishing town of Puerto San Carlos. On arrival we enjoy lunch, then load into our van for a three-hour ride back to Loreto. After time at your hotel, we gather for a no host, festive farewell dinner, sharing memories of a wonderful week.
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.
Dates & Rates
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|Feb 07, 2021 to Feb 12, 2021||$1,650£0€0$0$0||$1,650£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
|Feb 14, 2021 to Feb 19, 2021||$1,650£0€0$0$0||$1,650£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
|Feb 21, 2021 to Jan 26, 2021||$1,650£0€0$0$0||$1,650£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
|Feb 28, 2021 to Mar 05, 2021||$1,650£0€0$0$0||$1,650£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
|Mar 07, 2021 to Mar 12, 2021||$1,650£0€0$0$0||$1,650£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
- Full services of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
- All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
- All transportation while on tour
- All kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
- Panga supported kayaking tour
Transportation to and from the airport
Hotel before and after the tour
$25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
Included: Skilled professional guide services, ground transportation, motorboat-support to carry gear, snorkeling equipment, 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, $25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary, and items of a personal nature.
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.
Yes, if at any time a guest does not want to paddle they are welcome to ride in the panga instead.
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.
Whether you are an avid sea kayaker, or it is your first time, you’ll enjoy these incredible trips, and share in our passion for adventure, commitment to conserving the environment, and relishing unique experiences. For those new to the sport, kayaking is easy to learn in the sheltered waters that we visit, and we provide all of the camping gear, kayaking equipment and guidance needed. In addition, we keep our groups small to allow you to not only travel intimately among nature, but to ensure you receive the necessary attention from our guides.
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.
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.
If it’s too windy to paddle your guides will have alternative activities for guests to enjoy. There are opportunities to snorkel, 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.
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.
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!
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.
To keep our group size small and our impact minimal, we typically limit our tours to 14 people or less. Our standard minimum to confirm a departure is 4 guests for our Islands of Loreto Bay kayak tour.
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Contact your service provider for the best options for taking your cell phone to a different country. You are unlikely to receive cell service while paddling, but WiFi is available in many coffee shops in town. Your guides will be equipped with radios during the tour in case of emergency.
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.
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.
A deposit of $500 per person is required within 10 days of your reservation to hold your spaces. If the tour you are signing up for is a confirmed departure your deposit is non-refundable. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation investment. US residents may purchase travel insurance directly through ROW Sea Kayak Adventures offered by Travel Insured International.
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, you should notify ROW Sea Kayak Adventures in writing, by e-mail or fax immediately. If written cancellation is received (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of deposit. Deposits are not refundable. If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded. If you are unable to go on the trip, you are welcome to find a replacement for yourself. Please understand that once you've signed up, we are unable to sell your reserved space to other individuals or groups. Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason we strongly recommend you consider purchasing a Travel Protection Plan to protect your vacation investment.
Full payment is due 60 days prior to the launch date, as indicated on your invoice. Due to the high demand for these trips, please be sure to pay your balance on time so as to not jeopardize your reservation. Your final payment must be paid by check or bank draft in US funds. Alternatively, you may pay your final balance with a credit card, but a 3% administrative fee will be added.