Each year more than 25,000 gray whales migrate over 5,000 miles from the frigid waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea to the balmy peninsula of Baja California in Mexico. January through March are the best months to catch a glimpse of this epic journey when the whales arrive in the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California.
While whale watching is possible and quite plentiful from shore, we like to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. And while a number of operators in the Los Cabos area run whale-watching tours, the best whale viewing is from one of three bays, or lagoons, located outside of the main Los Cabos area including Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Laguna San Ignacio, and Bahia Magdalena.
The whales come to these lagoons for the natural protection, shelter and warmer waters than the coastal waters offer.
The two most accessible bays from Los Cabos are Bahia Magdalena (Magdalena Bay) and Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Laguna San Ignacio is a ten-hour drive from La Paz with the last 1.5 hrs on rough road, but offers a more intimate whale watching experience and certainly worth the time and travel to get there.
In addition to viewing and learning about the gray whales and their migration, the region of Baja California Sur in Mexico combines dramatic desert landscape, charming towns and a range of excellent hotel options to discover during your stay.
Here are the best hotels for your Baja California whale watching adventure.
Whale Watching Hotels in Bahia Magdalena (Magdalena Bay)?
Posada La Poza is one of our favorite boutique hotels in Todos Santos, a charming town located just south of Magdalena Bay. With only eight rooms you will always be well looked after by the attentive staff. Enjoy the beautiful salt-water pool and hot tub, set in landscaped gardens overlooking the ocean. And don’t miss Posada La Poza’s on-site art gallery, featuring abstract paintings by Libushe, the hotel’s owner.
Also located in Todos Santos, the legendary Hotel California is a great home base for whale watching in Magdalena Bay. With only 11 rooms, all uniquely decorated with art and furniture from around the world, the eccentric hotel is steeped in history. The Hotel California is ideal for enjoying the authentic colonial architecture and cobblestone streets of Todos Santos and is certainly one of the best hotels for whale watching in Baja.
Best Hotels for Whale Watching in Laguna Ojo de Liebre
While a bit further out of the way, La Paz is an ideal home base for whale watching in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Here we love the Seven Crown La Paz Centro Hotel. With 54 rooms, this hotel offers all the amenities you would expect from a city hotel including wireless Internet, pool, fitness center and several dining options near by.
Posada Luna Sol is ideal for travelers looking for a more affordable boutique hotel in La Paz. Located ½ block from La Paz Bay, guests love their rooftop palapa terrace where you can enjoy complimentary coffee in the morning or a cold drink in the evening.
Puerto Escondido, located north of La Paz so a bit closer to the Laguna Ojo de Libre, is also an ideal home base for whale watching in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Hotel Tripui is our favorite place to stay in Puerto Escondido. This modern, clean and airy hotel features a beautiful outdoor dining space, pool and easy walking access to a nearby private beach.
Finally, the Inn at Loreto Bay, also called the Loreto Bay Golf Resort and Spa, is a great option if you’re looking for a bit more luxury. The stunning Sierra La Giganta Mountains dominate the landscape here, and the complex offers everything you need right on site. Enjoy pools, restaurants, bars and a world-class spa.
Best Laguna San Ignacio Hotels for Whale Watching
The charming inland town of San Ignacio is the perfect spot to stay for whale watching in San Ignacio Lagoon.
We love staying at the Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast. After recent renovations following the destructive Hurricane Odile, all 13 rooms on the property are looking sharp and fresh. Owned and managed by a Canadian couple, the Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast serves up family-style breakfast daily. Guests sit around the huge dining table with the warm air blowing through the open plan palapas discussing where they are heading to, or what excursion they have planned for the day.
Finally, if you’re keen to stay right on the Lagoon for an early chance to view the whales in San Ignacio Bay, consider Pachico’s. This basic accommodation option includes 7 solar powered cabins and is the closest option to the bay. Here you can walk along the intertidal zone and admire exceptional views of the lagoon and the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve.
If you’re thinking about experiencing the friendly gray whales in Mexico, please be sure to contact us today to start planning!