What if I told you there is a place on Earth you could have such a close encounter (legally and safely)?
I joined the Whale Watch Program and became a Certified Naturalist. I became a part of The ACSLA Gray Whale Census: a volunteer based program that counts the gray whale migration sunrise to sundown from December to June every year (and it has been for over 30 years!). I started planning my world travels around the whale watch seasons and destinations...we even bought a boat, so we can go out anytime and Whale Watch...well, you get the picture!
For a few years I have been hearing from my fellow “whale geeks” about the Friendly Whales of Baja and seeing the shameless “photo parades” of the incredible encounters they have had.
Gray Whales make one of the longest mammal migrations on Earth every year: Alaska to Baja, Mexico and back...almost 14,000 miles round trip!!!
San Ignacio lagoon is heavily regulated and there is a small handful of tour operators that are qualified and have permits to operate in that area. And I know what you are thinking...nooo, you can not take your own boat down there...sorry!
You have to stay at one of the Eco camps and take the small pangas operated by guides to see the whales. Sounds cool? Oh, you have no idea!!!
This trip was officially put on my bucket list and later became our “honeymoon trip” to be.
- If Money is no object
Go with a tour company. They will take you by bus from San Diego, CA to Tijuana, MX, where you will board a very small plane (yes, kind of scary) and it will land on a tiny runway (well, more like a dirt road) in San Ignacio Lagoon. From there you will be shuttled to their camp. (The closest to the whales!)
- Long Road Trip Lover
You rent a van in San Diego, CA (from a rental company which will allow you to take it to Mexico, and drive 14 long hours down to the Lagoon to the camp of your choice. You can make a stop at one of the other lagoons on the way and check out the whale watching there.
- Our way - the perfect way! (well, I might be biased)
Fly into Loreto, MX and pick up a rental car at the airport (the last 20 km of your journey are not paved, so choose your rental car wisely:-). Have lunch at one of the cute beachside restaurants of Loreto, then drive 2.5 hours north by the scenic road which will take you through the highs and the lows of the Baja Peninsula: through the mountains and by the stunning beaches of the Sea of Cortez.
You are in the Whale Land NOW!!!