Close Encounters with Baja, Mexico’s Gray Whales

It’s not just the Mexican people who are famously friendly, but the gray whales. Referred to as “The Friendlies” by the locals, they’re one of the reasons I decided to move to Baja California Sur. Baja is one of the best places in the world for close encounters with whales, with the grays migrating to breeding lagoons in the Sea of Cortez from around mid-January through late March before heading north to Alaska.

These lagoons are the only place in the world where gray whales have their babies as they’re protected from the strong currents of the Pacific Ocean. As the water is shallow, and their only predator, the orca whale won’t enter, providing the ideal environment for the mothers to nurse their newly born calves. It’s also easy for the mothers to supervise while the young whales learn how to swim, how to breath properly, feed, dive and teach them how to interact with other whales.

Many of the gray whales specifically seek out human contact in the lagoons. In fact, some mothers even bring their calves to “introduce them” to curious visitors. The government strictly regulates access, ensuring that human activities don’t negatively affect these magnificent, intelligent creatures. The whales seem to enjoy the interactions with humans just as much as humans enjoy them.

There are multiple options for visiting the lagoons. Guided tours are available in Ignacio Springs, Loreto, and La Paz, with Baja Sur Tours one of the most highly recommended, complete with marine biologists who are passionate about the whales and the environment. While it is possible to visit the lagoons independently, you’ll need to negotiate with the boat captains, and not all are English-speaking. It’s best to join a tour as the operators stay up to date on the activity in the lagoons and will know the best place to go, increasing the chances of an experience of a lifetime.

You can fly into San Jose del Cabo International Airport near Cabo San Lucas (SJD) La Paz International Airport (LAP), or Loreto International Airport (LTO). Feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like any tips via KC@NeverTooLate2Travelcom.

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