Baja: A Place to Admire the Gentle Giants of the Sea of Cortés

If you look at a map of North America, down in the bottom left-hand corner, you will see a long stretch of land that looks rather like a giant chili. This is the Baja Peninsula. One of the longest peninsulas in the world, stretching 800 miles (1,300km) south from the U.S. Californian border, and you can see a greater variety of whales and dolphins here in a couple of weeks than anywhere else on the planet.

One moment you could be surrounded by thousands of boisterous common dolphins or enjoying a close encounter with an inquisitive fin whale, the next you could be alongside a group of deep-diving sperm whales or watching a family of rare and elusive Peruvian beaked whales.

Suddenly, you could be tickling implausibly friendly grey whales under the chin, listening to humpback whales singing their haunting, unearthly songs, and enjoying unforgettably close encounters with gargantuan blue whales.


Best of all, as there are more than 1,860 miles (3,000km) of untamed shoreline and not that many whale-watching boats in the Baja California, most of the time you have the whales, dolphins and other wildlife all to yourself.

Baja is a world of peace and tranquillity. As John Steinbeck says in his classic The Log from the Sea of Cortez: “Whatever it is that makes one aware that men are about is not there. Thus, in spite of the noises of waves and fishes, one has a feeling of… quietness.”

Arguably the Baja California Peninsula is the best place in the world for whale watching due to its sheer variety of cetaceans.

Blue Whale (Telegraph UK)
Blue Whale (Telegraph UK)

Obviously, we cannot ignore the relatively recent tragic incident in which a Canadian citizen died while “whale watching” in Baja California. There had been near-misses, a few injuries and even sunken boats, but until Jen Karren fell victim to a breaching baleen whale off the coast of Cabo, fatalities attributed to whale-tourist conflicts were absolutely unheard of.

Humpback Whale (Telegraph UK)
Humpback Whale (Telegraph UK)

Small Boat Cruising in Baja: The Best Way to Enjoy Whale Watching

Of course whale watching is one of the most popular activities available in Baja and many travelers are familiar with the typical half day whale watching tour.

All small ship cruises include a trip to view gray whales along Baja’s Pacific Coast. However aboard a small ship cruise you are essentially whale watching in the Sea of Cortez twenty four hours a day for an entire week.

Grey Whale (Telegraph UK)
Grey Whale (Telegraph UK)

As we mentioned before, the Sea of Cortez is home to numerous migratory and resident whales including grey whales, humpback whales, orca whales, blue whales, fin whales, sperm whales, pilot whales and more. In addition you may encounter dolphins, porpoise or sea lions. Wildlife can be so abundant that a boat may become surrounded by thousands of dolphins or porpoise and it may take twenty minutes for the entire pod to pass by.

“One night after dinner a small group of guests had gathered on the bow of the ship where our guide was giving a presentation on stars, planets and constellations.

After the talk many of us lingered enjoying the views of the Milky Way, the warm breeze and the solitude.

Suddenly a woman screamed look at that, what is that? We all hurried to the railing to an amazing sight.

The foam stirred up by the movement of the ship was glowing fluorescent green. Our guide explained that the bioluminescence was created by plankton and algae blooms in the water.

We accepted his answer and went back to our silence, watching the light show. A few moments later we began seeing small sparks of light shooting forward from the ship, first one, then three, then many.

It soon became clear that a pod of dolphins was riding the bow of the ship and when they would break the surface to breathe it would light up the dark black water in front of the ship. It was one of the most amazing and unexpected encounters of the entire trip.”

Photo: Telegraph UK

So, we can end up by saying that: “Whale watching trips in Baja are much more than just whale watching,”


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