Meet Gentle Gray Whales Up Close & 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: Arrive San Jose del Cabo, Mexico / La Paz
To allow more flexibility, more comfortable transfer arrangements and a better overall start to your whale-watching tour, we've included a pre-cruise night at the CostaBaja Resort & Spa, located on the shore of the Sea of Cortez just south of Espiritu Island. Upon your arrival at the airport in San Jose del Cabo, transfer to La Paz and check in to the resort. The rest of the day and evening are yours to relax after your travels.
Day 2: La Paz / San Carlos — Embark Ship
The morning is free to take advantage of the resort and spa amenities before departing later for La Paz, where we'll have lunch at a local restaurant. An afternoon drive across the Baja Peninsula takes us to San Carlos, to embark ship
. Get settled in to
your cabin and head out on deck to admire the views as we prepare to set sail.
Days 3–5: 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 off Alaska to breed, birth and raise their calves in these warm, sheltered waters. During the days, we'll have the opportunity not only to observe these huge yet gentle mammals from the ship's decks,
but also at water level on excursions by expedition landing craft. With the advantage of our captain and staff's 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 offerings, 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. Birdwatching here can be excellent, with magnificent frigatebirds, pelicans, cormorants, terns and great blue herons among the species we frequently see.
Day 6: 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 on view 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 the best spots are to look for wildlife, their passion and respect for the area is
infectious—whether you ask a question or two, or spend an entire afternoon in their company.
Day 7: 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 are provided, 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 8: Exploring the Sea of Cortez
We're cruising at sea today, with the luxury of no specific plan. Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez "the world's aquarium," and we get a feel for its tremendous biodiversity as we scout for marine life. 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 birdlife—ladder-backed woodpeckers, Costa’s hummingbirds, Gila woodpeckers and verdin.
Day 9: La Paz—Disembark / Depart
Our whale-watching cruise comes to an end as we disembark after breakfast in La Paz. A transfer to the airport is included, to meet departing flights.
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-in voyage plan. Some itineraries travel in reverse.
Physical Rating: Easy