Cabo San Lucas' location at the tip of the Baja Peninsula makes it ideally placed for whale watching. The Sea of Cortez is a natural safe harbor for many species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) including sperm whales, orca/killer whales, and at least three species of dolphins. The deep Pacific ocean waters off the coast host migrating humpback whales, Gray whales, and Blue whales. It's this diversity of species at the confluence of the two bodies of water that makes whale watching in Cabo San Lucas unique.
The Sea of Cortez has been called "The World's Aquarium" due to the number of species it supports. Not only whales and dolphins, but also sea lions, unique coral reef fish species, and many birds. There is also a species of manta ray that is known as a flying mobulas, due to their ability to leap out of the water and 'fly'. Although only 7% of the waters are protected by law, the area is both economically and environmentally important, and eco-tourism such as whale watching helps protect the region's diversity.
The Best Time of Year for Whale and Dolphin Watching in Cabo San Lucas
The time of year you visit will determine how many whales are around, and the species you will see. Many cetaceans spend their winter feeding and putting on weight in the relative warmth of the Sea of Cortez and the South Pacific and then migrate as far as Alaska to feed in the summer. But not all species migrate, and because of the rich biodiversity in the area, some whales and dolphins remain year round.
It's not just food that draws whales to the area. The Sea of Cortez is breeding and birthing ground for some species, most notably humpback whales. This means visitors are sometimes treated to the spectacle of humpbacks leaping out of the water or "breaching", tail slapping the surface, or engaging in other mating displays.
Because of the increase in these behaviors, December through April is the best time for watching whales, especially if you are hoping to see humpback or gray whales. However, because the waters around Cabo San Lucas are a natural sanctuary, it is possible to see whales and dolphins no matter when you visit.
If you go whale watching in Cabo San Lucas, plan on spending approximately $50 to $80 per adult, and about half of that for each child. The price of your tour will depend on the length of time you will spend watching whales, the type of boat, and the available amenities. Some tours range as low as $21 if you interested in a low-cost option, or if you prefer, you can find luxury day-long tours for $200 or more. Depending on your interests, you can find mini sub dive tours, night excursions, trips that include snorkeling, and even pirate-themed whale watching adventures.
No matter how you choose to explore the waters off of Cabo San Lucas, you're almost certain to see some of the area's whales and dolphins. Through responsible eco-tourism, you can help support the protection of these intelligent and unique creatures, and create life-long memories in the process.