Some of Baja’s most thrilling adventures come in the form of interactive marine life experiences in the wild. From releasing just-hatched baby sea turtles to diving with great white sharks, there’s an up-close sea animal experience for every speed. Here are a few of our favorites.
Pet the Gray Whales
Where To Go: There are three lagoons that the gray whales migrate to on the Baja peninsula—Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio, Bahía Magdalena.
When To Go: Late January through early April
Why We Love It: There’s nothing quite like the experience of having a mama and baby gray whale come right up to you in the wild so that you can pet and hug them. Weighing up to 40 tons and measuring nearly 50 feet long, the gray whales are gentle giants of the ocean. They spend two to three months each year migrating 14,000 miles from the cold waters of Alaska to the warm lagoons of Baja California to mate and birth their calves.
DBTC Insider Tip: You can find out more information about the gray whales and how to visit them in our gray whale guide.
Snorkel with Sea Lions
Where To Go: The most famous sea lion colony on the peninsula is arguably Los Islotes of Isla Espiritu Santo in La Paz. There are other colonies along the peninsula including Bahía de los Ángeles.
When To Go: Fall through spring
Why We Love It: These playful sea creatures are a joy to swim with and make for an incredibly fun experience.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you like the idea of viewing marine life from land rather than from the water, we recommend making a stop at La Lobera, just south of San Quintín, where you can peer down into the natural sea crater to spy on the harbor seals.
Release Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Where To Go: Baja Sur on the Pacific side. Todos Santos is home to Tortugueros Las Playitas, a non-profit that aides in conserving and replenishing the sea turtle population. Many of the Tour outfitters in Cabo and even some in La Paz now offer trips to experience the hatchling release as well.
When To Go: Hatchling releases happen every evening at sunset from December-March.
Why We Love It: Watching baby turtles break out of their eggs and totter into the ocean for the first time is a delightful and memorable experience. The critically endangered Pacific Leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living turtles with adults growing up to two meters in length and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Leatherbacks mate at sea, and the females come ashore at night to nest by digging a hole in the ground and depositing around 80 eggs. Incubation is about 60 days, and once the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles make their way into the ocean where they must learn to fend for themselves. Female hatchlings will roam the seas until they reach sexual maturity when they will return to the same nesting area to produce their own offspring.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you’re staying in or near Todos Santos, Tortugueros Las Playitas opens up their hatchling releases to the public for free, so everyone is welcome to participate. You can read more about Turtugueros Las Playitas and their hatchling releases in the article here.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Where To Go: The Sea of Cortez. La Paz and Bahía de los Ángeles are some of the best spots where you can find tour operators who will take you out to swim or snorkel with these docile creatures.
When To Go: The season in Bahía de los Ángeles varies from year to year but generally runs from middle of summer to fall. The La Paz season is a little bit later from about October to March.
Why We Love It: These gentle sea giants are actually not whales or sharks, but the world’s largest fish. They can grow up to 12 meters and weigh over 21 tons. With large mouths, whale sharks are filter feeds and no danger to humans, but are certainly impressive to see up close.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you want to kayak out on your own instead of taking an organized tour, you can do so in Bahía de los Ángeles. Read more in Graham Mackintosh’s article.
Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
Where To Go: Isla Guadalupe, located 150 miles off the west coast of Baja
When To Go: Shark season is July-November
Why We Love It: There’s nothing more terrifying thrilling than descending 30 feet into the ocean in a cage to come face to face with a great white shark. There are over 300 individual white sharks in the waters surrounding the island, which means there’s always plenty of excitement.
DBTC Insider Tip: Great white shark trips to Isla Guadalupe don’t actually land on the island, but are instead liveaboard trips that leave from San Diego (with the boats departing from Ensenada).