Whale watching is a famous tourist attraction for visitors of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Cabo San Lucas is located in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur or BCS. It encompasses the southern tip of the western peninsula of Mexico which extends directly beneath the U.S. state of California.
Whale watching season begins in January and extends through the beginning of April. (This trip and these photographs were taken on a whale watching trip in the middle of January). Many different whales travel the oceans in the area, including humpback whales and gray whales. However, even in whale watching season, tourists can not be offered any promises. Even experienced guides that know preferred locations and migration routes can not find whales on every excursion.
In the docks of Cabo San Lucas, there are many different adventure tours and companies offering whale watching excursions. You can board many different types of boats, from large ferries, to catamarans and small speed boats. The small speed boats, in which these photographs were taken, have the advantage of being able to quickly react to the movements of the whale and can position themselves as close as possible to where the whales are surfacing. However, if you are prone to sea sickness, a larger vessel may be more to your liking.
Upon leaving the docks you buzz past the famous arch of Cabo San Lucas, a rocky formation that makes up the last bit of land before you reach open ocean waters. Here on these rocks you may be able to spot a colony of sea lions, basking in the sun and barking at one another.
When someone envisions going on a whale watching trip, most people seem to imagine sitting quietly on a boat for hours, hoping that somewhere in the distance a whale fin briefly emerges from the water or a spout of water emanating from a blowhole rises in the distance. Then everyone can go home happy and said that they did in fact see some whales. However, and especially if you get lucky, this is not the case.
How far out into the ocean you have to travel on your whale watching trip depends on how soon you come across any whales. On this day, just a short distance past the arch there was already a semicircle of boats gathered to watch several whales they had spotted. There would be no long waits and no far travels today.
Joining the scene, we were greeted by at least three separate humpback whales. The whales would rise straight from the water and then would seemingly topple over after they couldn’t rise any higher. With their heads and most of their bodies back under the surface, their tails would then appear, signaling that they were diving, before gracefully being swallowed under the waves and disappearing from sight.
We were treated to a repeat performance of this dance many times in close proximity and soon other humpback whales would join the scene, making five or six individual whales present. When one of the guides would spot a whale (the whales, up to forty feet long or larger, hover just beneath the surface and are clearly visible as a dark mass in the aqua-green colored ocean waves) he would quickly drive the boat as close as possible. On one occasion, a submerged whale was no more than five or ten feet from the edge of our craft.
When a whale raises one flipper from the water and then slams it back down, she may be attempting to rid herself of pesky barnacles. Performing this in front of a young calf, the mother is actually teaching the calf how to perform the act. Some of the biggest creatures on Earth, their motions are extraordinarily graceful and fluid, and their actions seem filled with playfulness and curiosity. The whales almost can sense that all of the boats have gathered around for the purpose of watching them. They are the stars of the show, and they most certainly know it.
After experiencing a whale watching trip in Cabo San Lucas, one is left feeling humbled; tiny not only in size compared to the massive whales but tiny in the grand scheme of the planet. These whales have known by instinct for thousands upon thousands of years to travel to these same waters for mating. Taking part in a whale watching adventure, awestruck by the size and power of the whales while being so close that you almost feel as if you are interacting with them is an amazing and unique experience.