Meet Gentle Gray Whales Up Close and Explore the Marine & Desert Ecosystems of Baja
Note: Some departures travel in reverse, from La Paz to San Carlos, with the same stops included. If your voyage ends in San Carlos, you will be offered a transfer to the airport in La Paz at the end of your voyage.
Day 1: La Paz / San Carlos / Embark Ship
Our whale-watching tour begins upon arrival in La Paz, where we drive across the Baja Peninsula to San Carlos to board the ship.
Day 2–4: Bahia Magdalena
Bahia Magdalena (Magdalena Bay) is one of the main breeding and calving areas for the Pacific gray whale. Each winter, the whales make the longest migration of any mammal, swimming south from their Arctic feeding grounds to breed, birth and raise their calves in these sheltered waters. During our days in this otherworldly place, we'll have the opportunity to not only observe these enormous yet gentle animals from ship, but also at water level on Expedition Landing Craft excursions. Because of our in-depth experience and knowledge of these waters, we have enjoyed consistent success in achieving "friendly encounters" with gray whale mother and calf pairs. While we would never presume to predict nature's behavior, it is highly likely that you will have the privilege of a close-up sighting, and probably several.
Via kayak and Expedition Landing Craft, we’ll also explore the mangrove swamp canals around the bay. Bird watching here can be excellent—magnificent frigatebirds, pelicans, cormorants, terns and great blue herons are among the species we might see.
Day 5: Los Cabos and Gorda Banks
Today, we cruise past spectacular Friars Rocks at Land's End. For those who wish, we will arrange a visit to the historic town center of San Jose del Cabo. The afternoon is spent at the Gorda Banks sea mount, a gathering place for whales and dolphins. Humpback whales are often sighted here at this time of year, and we may see tail lobbing, flipper slapping, spy-hopping and breaching. Our onboard marine biologists and naturalists are always available to inform and enlighten you with their extensive knowledge and experience. Not only do they know where best to look for wildlife, their passion and respect for the area is infectious—whether you ask a question or two or spend entire afternoon in their company.
Day 6: Los Islotes and Isla Espiritu Santo
With deeply indented shorelines and dramatically eroded cliff faces, Islas Los Islotes and Espiritu Santo are two of the most beautiful islands in the Sea of Cortez. Don mask, flippers and snorkel (which we’ll provide, along with as much instruction as you need) and experience the thrill of swimming with curious sea lions. Observe the impressive geological past of these islands from a kayak: see tons of compacted volcanic ash covered with solidified lava floods just yards from the shore. Brown pelicans, gulls, wandering tattlers, great blue herons and boobies are all part of the landscape. These islands are also home to the endemic black jackrabbit, and with luck, we may spot one. There are possibilities for long walks or lazy beachcombing before we finish the day with a beach barbecue complete with campfire beneath a star-studded sky.
Day 7: Exploring the Sea of Cortez
We're cruising at sea today, with the luxury of no specific plan. We may spend the morning whale watching in the waters around Isla Danzante, an area that has proven to be one of the best for finding blue whales, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. Rich in nutrients, the Sea of Cortez is home to a huge variety of fish: king angelfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish, damselfish and the vividly colored parrotfish. Explore one of the many tranquil uninhabited islands such as Isla San Jose or Isla Santa Catalina, famous for the 12-foot wavy barrel cactus. Whether walking, kayaking or watching from the ship's bridge, you’ll observe a great diversity of bird life—ladder-backed woodpeckers, Costa’s hummingbirds, Gila woodpeckers and verdin.
Day 8: La Paz / Disembark / Los Angeles
Our whale-watching cruise comes to an end as we disembark after breakfast in La Paz and drive to the airport for our flights home.
Note: This itinerary should serve as a guideline only; the actual stops are determined by weather, wildlife activity, and a host of factors in order to provide the best possible experience. This flexibility is what makes traveling on our nimble expedition ships so much more rewarding than on a large vessel with a locked voyage plan. Some itineraries travel in reverse.
Physical Rating: Easy