Everything you need to know about the Cabo San Lucas whale watching season (best time, best places & more)!
Is it your dream to see whales in the wild? Hands down (whale tails up), Cabo San Lucas is one of the best places in the world for whale watching!
Of course, this isn’t SeaWorld. Whales don’t just leap out of the Pacific Ocean on demand, so in order to give yourself the best chance to see these magnificent creatures in Cabo San Lucas, it’s essential to plan ahead.
Keep reading for the best time of year to see whales PLUS the best private tour companies for whale watching in the waters of Los Cabos.
Best Place for Whale Watching on the Baja Peninsula
Situated in northwestern Mexico, the Baja California peninsula separates the Gulf of California from the Pacific Ocean. This 775-mile stretch of land is known for having some of the best places for whale watching in the world.
At Magdalena Bay Whale Sanctuary, visitors have the chance to see gray whales and their calves. The calm, shallow waters are ideal for up-close viewing.
Other popular places for whale watching in the Cabo San Lucas area are Cabo San Lucas Bay, Santa Maria Bay and the Sea of Cortez.
Another hot spot on the Baja Peninsula for whale watching is La Paz. Like Cabo San Lucas, the whale season in La Paz takes place during the winter months.
Since this post focuses on whale watching in Cabo San Lucas, let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a guide for whale watching in La Paz 🤓
Species of Whales You Can Expect to See
One of the reasons, Cabo San Lucas is a top spot for whale watching in Mexico is all the different species you will have the opportunity to see.
Keep reading for a rundown of the different species of whales and where you’re most likely to see them in and around Cabo San Lucas.
If you want to see humpback whales in the wild, you’ve come to the right place! Humpback whales are the species of whales most commonly seen during the whale watching season in Cabo San Lucas.
With an estimated population of more than 18,000 whales (and an annual growth rate between 6-7%), there’s a VERY good chance you will see humpbacks on your whale watching excursion.
Mostly found in the Sea of Cortez, it’s uncommon to see blue whales near the shores of Cabo San Lucas—but, you could get lucky!
If you’re willing to venture into deeper water (or make a trip up to the Loreto Marine Park), seeing a blue whale in the wild is sure to be the memory of a lifetime. After all, at 80-100 feet in length, they are they largest animal to ever exist.
Don’t let the name fool you: Whale sharks are actually a species of fish. In Cabo San Lucas, you can actually swim alongside these slow-moving, gentle giants.
When fully grown, whales sharks can measure more than 30 feet in length and weigh in at over 20,00 pounds. They thrive in the tropical waters around Cabo San Lucas.
The season for swimming with whale sharks extends a bit beyond the typical whale watching season in Cabo San Lucas. Travel to nearby La Paz between October and May to snorkel with whale sharks.
Unlike the migratory species, sperm whales are present in Cabo San Lucas year round. Male sperm whales do make the journey north, but female sperm whales stay longer to raise their young.
To see sperm whales, you will need to head out into deeper waters where this species likes to hunt for its favorite food: squid. This species of whales tend to congregate near deep ocean trenches where they can put their skills as one of the deepest diving mammals in the world to good use.
While it may be the “second smallest baleen whale,” you won’t need to squint to see the minke whale in the waters around Cabo San Lucas. Measuring around 24 feet in length on average, minke whales can weigh up to 10 tons.
Orcas (killer whales)
As with the blue whale, it’s rare to see orcas, also known as killer whales, in the water around Cabo San Lucas. Rare but not impossible.
Since orcas generally prefer colder waters, consider water temperatures when planning your trip to give yourself the best chance to see killer whales in the wild. However, try not to get your hopes to high, since some tour companies report only seeing orcas four to five times during the whale watching season.
The second largest animal on the planet after the blue whale, fin whales in the Sea of Cortez usually measure around 60 feet in length. Your best chance to see a fin whale in on a blue whale watching tour in Loreto (so you will have to make a trip there from Cabo San Lucas).
Other marine life you’ll see whale watching
In addition to these different species of whales, Cabo San Lucas is home to a vast array of marine life. During the whale watching season, you will also likely see bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, hammerhead sharks and mako sharks.
Anyone will to head into deeper waters will be reward with sightings of sea turtles, puffers and large schools of tropical fish.
Whale Watching Season in Cabo San Lucas
If you plan your trip to Cabo San Lucas during whale watching season, there’s a very high probability that you will see whales.
So, when is peak whale watching season in Cabo San Lucas?
Typically, the whale season starts in December. If want to visit the Cabo San Lucas area during this time of year, plan your trip for late December to give yourself the best chance that whale season is already underway.
Generally, the best time for spotting humpbacks is from late December until early January.
Thinking about whale watching in early January? Consider planning your trip for after Jan. 6 since that’s the last day of Christmas celebrations in Mexico meaning *slightly* fewer crowds.
By late January, many snowbirds will have arrived to ride out the winter in the Cabo San Lucas area, so keep that in mind when booking accommodation.
For the best opportunity to see baby whales, plan your trip for February.
In late March and April, the whales begin their long journey back to Alaska.
Don’t write off this final month of the whale season though! There’s still lots of quality whale watching to be done in Cabo San Lucas.
Best Way to See Whales in Cabo San Lucas
The best way to see whales in Cabo San Lucas is joining a whale watching tour. Because the whale watching season is so vital to the area’s tourism economy, there are a variety of private tour operators.
One of the top-rated whale watching tour agencies in Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Adventures offers a variety of excursions including whale shark snorkeling. The tour includes transportation to and from La Paz (two hours each way), snorkel gear, wetsuit and lunch.
Bilingual guides will help to facilitate your sure-to-be memorable close encounter with whale sharks!
Other offerings by Cabo Adventures include: sunset cruises, luxury sailing tours and snorkeling with sea lions. Check out the Cabo Adventures website for more details.
Interested in a private tour? Cabo Sails organizes private whale watching tours starting in mid-December and running through the end of March.
In addition to the popular day tour, Cabo Sails also offers sunset cruises. Your private sailing tour includes an open bar, snacks, snorkeling equipment and sightseeing stops at top Cabo San Lucas attractions like El Arco and Lover’s Beach.
Check out the Cabo Sails website for more details.
For a close encounter with whales in their natural habitat, book the Zodiac Whale Watching tour with Cabo Expeditions.
The tour last 2.5 hours and includes transportation to and from your Cabo San Lucas accommodation. Small groups mean the certified guides can provide personal attention to each guest throughout the action-packed adventure that’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Head over to the Cabo Expeditions website to learn more.
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Final Thoughts on Whale Watching Season in Cabo San Lucas
Live out your childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist, and start planning your Cabo whale watching trip.
If seeing whales in their natural habitat isn’t on your bucket list, it should be! Joining a whale watching tour with certified guides is the best way to get the close encounter in Cabo San Lucas that you’re sure to remember for the rest of your life.