To have an unforgettable encounter with majestic gray and blue whales, travelers should visit Pueblo Mágico (Magical town) Loreto in Mexico’s Baja California Sur.
Loreto is an oasis trapped between the waters of Mar de Cortés and the desert lands of Sierra Giganta. It’s the remote land that the Jesuits used to start their pilgrimage to evangelize and colonize Baja and Alta California.
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It’s also the largest temporary home to gray and blue whales in the world. It is in front of a set of islands declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site and still one of Mexico’s favorite sun and beach destinations.
Every January, its fortunate waters receive dozens of blue whale specimens, the largest mammal in the world, which arrive to complete their reproduction process through mating and breeding.
To observe them, visitors have to navigate to Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (Loreto Bay National Park)—with its bay and islands—converted into a sanctuary and where service providers take them for passive observation, following established rules for not affecting the species.
Once the boat locates a whale, usually guided by the jet of water expelled when breathing or by showing their back, they approach at a less than 4 km per hour speed and maintain a 100 meters (about 328 feet) distance, so tourists must keep eyes wide open so as not to miss their serene swim.
In cases where the specimen naturally approaches the boat, visitors shouldn’t touch it, scream, and much less jump into the water to try to swim with it.
During the blue whale watching season, which runs from January to March, travelers also have the privilege of observing another species—the gray whale. To do this, they must leave Loreto by boat until they reach two-hours-away Bahía de Magdalena (Magdalena Bay).
This specimen, especially the younglings, has the characteristic of jumping and approaching boats more confidently. Remember to follow the rules in both cases so their natural behavior isn’t affected.
Loreto is 226 miles away from La Paz and communicates with the main cities of Baja California Sur and Baja California by the Transpeninsular highway. However, it’s also accessible by a 30-minute plane flight from the capital of Baja California Sur.
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