In February of 2020, we were living in Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico. It’s a small town on the Pacific coast about 50 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. Between January and March, it’s normal to see Grey Whales just off-shore. Dave and I went to the beach on a daily basis and were amazed at how close to shore the whales come in. Several times we feared they were going to beach themselves, but they must know what they’re doing…I think it’s pretty rare for that to happen at this location.
Seriously yall….on certain days it’s nothing but whale spouts as you look out over the ocean. The whales also do a lot of breaching (jumping out of the water), fin waving, and tail flapping. We didn’t catch any of that on video this trip. 🙁 We also regularly saw manta rays jumping and if you watch closely you can see some of those in the drone video.
In 2019 Dave and I took a boat ride out into Ojo de Liebre a lagoon known for whale watching. Mama whales come here to give birth to their babies. We have a video showing that experience, which included getting to pet the whales. Video below:
ABOUT OUR UP CLOSE EXPERIENCE
Laguna Ojo de Liebre Whale Watching Just south of Guerrero Negro, BCS, Mexico. (22 miles from town) On the Pacific side about halfway down the peninsula in a Lagoon known as Ojo de Liebre, which is part of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There’s a facility where you buy your tickets. There are restrooms, a cafe, some souvenirs, information/educational stuff, and a large dock you walk out on to reach the boats that take you to the whales.
There’s camping available in the reserve: Laguna Ojo de Liebre Campground. We stayed here in our truck camper. Campsites are very basic. Pit Toilets. No showers. No hook-ups.
Otherwise, the closest place to stay is Guerrero Negro which has hotels. Here’s a LINK to the Google Maps showing their results for hotels. We’ve stayed at Don Gus’s. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s clean and a room cost us about $25USD in 2019.
At the time we went (2019) the cost per person was about $40 USD. You’re taken out with a group of other people in a boat about 20′ long.
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Pregnant Grey Whales migrate to the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon to give birth. You can expect to see these mamas and their new babies.
What It Was Like
We arrived early in the morning at the building where you pay for your trip. Everyone was given a properly sized life jacket and then we walked out on a dock to the boats. The boats are fiberglass pangas about 20 feet long. Including the boat operator, there were around 10 people in each boat. Seating is on fiberglass beams that run across the boat. The ride out to the whales took about 15 minutes. On the way out we saw dolphins. They were racing alongside our boat close enough to touch. Boats communicate with one another and someone onshore by radio. I’m sure this helps them figure out where the whales are and adds to safety.
Boats aren’t supposed to “chase” or approach whales. Instead, the boat is stopped and it’s up to the whales to approach. They seem really inquisitive about the boats and people. On our trip, a cow and her calf swam to our boat right away. They lingered for at least 20 minutes. Bumping the boat. Going under it. Remaining so close that we were able to reach out and touch them repeatedly.
There’s no guarantee of such a close meeting every time, but I think the boat operators do their best to provide you with an unforgettable encounter. From what we’ve heard it’s fairly common for the whales to come near the boats.
Our time out was about 2 hours. We puttered around a bit and in addition to the close contact with cow and calf, we saw dozens of other whales. It was an amazing experience.
A FEW TIPS
- Go to the bathroom before you head out! The boat does NOT have a bathroom! Might not be wise to chug a bunch of coffee beforehand!
- Dress in layers. It may be cold this time of the year and being in a fast-moving boat on the water could give you a chill if you’re not dressed for it. I’d also advise a water-resistant jacket. It’s a small boat and you can expect spray to come in over the sides.
- Speaking of water…..make sure if you’re bringing a camera it’s either waterproof OR you have some way of protecting it.
This isn’t the only spot in Baja where you can go see the whales up close. We don’t have experience with other places, but a search on the internet will yield plenty of options and information.