FAQ: Whale Watching in Los Cabos
Celebrities flock to Los Cabos this time of year, but the biggest stars in town are much, much bigger. Each winter and early spring, humpback and gray whales put on a grand show in the waters that surround Los Cabos—Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and the tourist corridor that connects them.
With this blog, I’ll answer some of your frequently asked questions—When can I see whales? What’s the best time to go whale watching? What kind of whales are there?—and share my favorite tips for peak whale watching.
First thing’s first, Los Cabos is the ultimate destination for whale watching. Not only does the region feature ideal temperatures and stunning vistas, but we also have incredible amenities that include private vacation rentals (email me at email@example.com to learn more) and fantastic restaurants (see my guide on www.lifestyleincabo.com/dining-in-cabo). Beyond that, we have world-class golf, famous fishing tournaments like Bisbee’s Black & Blue, and international events throughout the year. The high season kicks off with the Sabor a Cabo food and wine festival, which recognizes the peninsula’s vibrant restaurant and wine scene. And the collection of activities available here goes on and on: Ride a camel, release turtles, zip across the outback, swim with whale sharks, or set sail on a private charter.
Today, of course, our attention is focused on the gentle giants that—like many of you—ditch the colder temperatures up north and decide to winter in Los Cabos each year. Read on for answers to your frequently asked questions.
When can I see whales in Los Cabos?
Whale watching season officially runs December 15 to April 15, and it’s when you can see the largest whale populations. Fun fact: The Sea of Cortés is known as the “aquarium of the world,” and its biodiversity includes all kinds of marine mammals, ranging from the nearly extinct, three-and-a-half-foot vaquita porpoise to the 100-foot-long blue whale.
This time of year, humpbacks are the most ubiquitous whales. You’re basically guaranteed to see one. They’re also the most flamboyant with acrobatic moves that marvel. You’re more than likely to see a gray whale, too, although many of them stay at the three main breeding lagoons farther north. Either way, keep your eyes on the water. A pair of polarized lenses will make spotting whales even easier. And, one of our favorite tips: After you’ve gotten a few good shots, put that camera down. Nothing will replace the joy of seeing these creatures with your bare eyes.
What kinds of whales will I see?
Humpbacks, gray whales, and orcas are among the whales that come to Los Cabos each winter to mate, give birth, and, when they have the chance, feed on the region’s rich marine life. When we’re talking about Los Cabos whales, we can essentially divide them into two categories: baleen (filter feeders like humpbacks) and those with teeth (think sperm whale or orca).
I’ve already told you that humpbacks are the most plentiful and acrobatic. You’ll be able to easily identify them because of their dark color and, well, their backs. An adult humpback can measure up to 40 feet long; they weigh about 1 ton per foot, and the mamas tend to be bigger than the papas.
The second most common Los Cabos whale is the gray whale; they’re known for their color and their friendly, almost pet-like behavior. Gray whales are known for their long migrations; one was recorded traveling round-trip from the east coast of Russia to Cabo San Lucas some 14,000 miles away over 172 days.
Orcas are less common, but there are sightings throughout the season and more so in recent years. There have even been videos of their feeding on baby gray whales. These black-and-white beauties are avid hunters and extremely photogenic.
You’re less likely to see sperm whales, the extremely recognizable but rarely spotted whale of Moby Dick fame. These whales are masterful divers; they hunt for giant squid, sometimes staying up to 10,000 feet below water for up to two hours.
Even rarer are sightings of blue whales, AKA the biggest animal to ever exist on planet Earth. They measure up to 100 feet long and weigh up to 170 tons.
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How can I go whale watching?
During peak whale watching season, many Palmilla residents have been known to report sightings from their patios or while out golfing. One of the many perks of Del Mar living is Club Ninety Six, the private club that will happily arrange a whale watching tour for you. All you have to do is head down to Palmilla Beach. Captains like our personal favorite Francisco Anda, will handle the rest. Looking for something a little different? I’m happy to help you charter a private yacht through Edmiston (email@example.com). You’ll enjoy all the imaginable amenities in more luxury than you could even dream. Most whale watching tours depart in the morning, but you can see whales throughout the day and even into the evening.
Are there whale watching rules or protocol?
The harbor captain monitors the water conditions to ensure safe sailing, and the federal government works to protect the environment—and these beautiful whale populations—through closely regulated safeguards. In Los Cabos, we understand that we share this environment with the whales and other sea creatures that make this such a wonderful destination. We ask that you join us in protecting them. Professional tour companies know the safe distance to keep from the whales; it’s best to avoid getting too close on the larger ships. And, of course, avoid letting anything get into the water.
You’ll want to protect yourself, too. Many whale watching tours last three hours or longer. Pack plenty of sunscreen, water (if not provided), a hat, your camera, and maybe a backup battery.
Where can I stay during whale watching season?
Whether you’re looking for luxury properties for sale or a vacation rental, I suggest you start your search at www.lifestyleincabo.com. Every property features lovely ocean views; you can spot a whale from your balcony!
The whales that come to Los Cabos each year are truly majestic creatures, and I can’t recommend the whale watching here enough. When you’re out on the water, you’ll see just why so many of us have made Los Cabos our forever home: the sea, the air, the beauty. It’s wondrous.