Head to nearby Puerto Chale for an amazing experience you won’t soon forget.
Booking a trip to go see the grey whales as they raise their babies in Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, is one of those iconic Baja experiences not to be missed. In the past, to go see the whales, we would drive to Adolfo Lopez Mateos, about a 3 hour drive from La Paz, and rent a house or stay overnight in nearby San Carlos.
More recently, Puerto Chale has become the new “it” spot to go whale watching. It’s closer, only a 2 hour drive from La Paz, making it an easy day trip. No matter which one you choose, this trip is not to be missed! The mamas often bring their calves up to the boats, and the babies will often surface right next to your boat, giving you a chance to actually pet them. You’ll find plenty of amazing photo ops, if you can keep your wits about you and not drop your camera/phone in the water when a whale pops up right next to you! The best time to go is in late February through the end of March, when there are plenty of whales in the bay, and the calves are old enough to start getting curious about us humans.
On a recent trip to Adolfo Lopez Mateos, we arrived at the dock early in the morning and were the first ones out on the water with our guide, Mario, at 7:30 a.m. There was still a heavy fog on the water, but within 10 minutes of leaving the dock we were sighting dozens of whales. Watching these behemoths suddenly surface out of the water in the mist, and hearing them blow just next to our boat, was surreal. It felt like something out of a Godzilla movie – is that Skull Island there in the distance?? We couldn’t help but wonder what the first humans to have seen whales like this from a small boat must have thought – the sheer size of their gray and white mottled backs curving out of the water takes your breath away. It was easy to imagine how some lone seafarer might have mistaken one of these giants for some sort of sea monster. We were captivated. The highlight: when two enormous whales emerged from the water to spy-hop, their huge heads surfacing from the water at the exact same time, acting out some prehistoric, choreographed ballet we were privileged enough to witness. Later, the sun came out and we watched a mama whale and her baby swim peacefully alongside our boat for several minutes.
On a second trip a week later to Puerto Chale, we were literally surrounded by dozens of whales, including mamas and their babies. Everywhere we looked we were pointing – there’s one there! There are two right over there! The water was shallow and so clear we could see the bottom. Several whales swam alongside our boat, the babies popping their heads up to get a better look at us humans. Who was watching who? While we didn’t get the magic “whale hug” this time, plenty of friends who went around the same time did. Either way, the experience is pure magic.
There are few services in Puerto Chale, it’s a rustic fishing village and only recently became a magnet for whale watching. Afterward, we had a nice lunch at Restaurante Andarmart de Carmen Higuera, All in all, we were able to drive to Puerto Chale, do a 2 hour tour, have lunch and were back home in La Paz by 2:00 p.m. Not bad for a day’s outing.
If you go:
Puerto Chale: Tours Guillén Puerto Chale, MX (612) 136-3766, email@example.com
Adolfo Lopez Mateos: Magdalena Bay Whales https://www.magdalenabaywhales.com/; toll free 1(855) 594-2537; in Mexico (613) 117-7045; firstname.lastname@example.org.