The San Ignacio Lagoon has become known as the mecca of whale watching. Nowhere else in the world offers such an amazingly intimate interaction between whales and humans. The waters literally come alive as hundreds of gray whales gather in this protected lagoon each year.
Situated within the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, the largest and least populated protected area in Mexico, the San Ignacio Lagoon offers a protected sanctuary for gray whales. After the long and arduous journey from Alaskan waters, the gray whales enter one of three main areas on the Pacific coast of Baja to mate, give birth, and nurse their young calves. The lagoons are vital reproduction and wintering sites for not only gray whales but also coastal bird species as the lagoon is situated along the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds.
The residents of the San Ignacio lagoon established strict regulations enforced inside the whale watching area to protect the whales and provide guests with the most intimate whale watching in the world. During the winter months (Jan – April), the sleepy fishing town comes alive with whales and their fans. Experienced fishermen captain each vessel (panga) and a naturalist guide will share interesting stories and their love for the amazing creatures on daily outings to the see the whales.
There are several ways to reach this isolated area, travel logistics can be a bit complicated but once you have been eye-to-eye with a mama gray whale and her calf your efforts will be trivialized. The closest international airport is Loreto, a five to six hour drive from the lagoon. Intrepid travelers can also fly into San Jose del Cabo or La Paz and explore the Sea of Cortez side before heading to the Pacific.
We can help you arrange transportation based on your desires. Want to leave the driving to a professional? We can arrange private or shared transport from San Ignacio town, Loreto, La Paz, and San Jose del Cabo. Buses in Baja are incredibly comfortable, safe and reliable. Rental cars are another good option. Roads are well maintained and well signed, making it easy for the inexperienced navigator. The road to the lagoon is almost entirely paved, eliminating the need for a 4×4 vehicle.
As we move slowly ahead in our panga, several mothers and their calves approach (by late March, when we visit, most adult males have already left for their return trip north). Then a whale comes right at us. As big as a school bus, she could easily flip us with one swipe of a fluke. Instead, she sends up a thick ring of bubbles as she dips under the hull, her back lifting us slightly out of the water. Even as we catch our breath from that encounter, another mother nears, this time pushing her offspring toward us. She nudges the calf (it weighs about 3 tons by now) out of the water. Human and whale eyes lock as we stroke the calf’s smooth, rubbery skin. Then, as gently as they came, mother and calf move away.
Thank you so much for the visit Phil! As the article suggests, those of you visiting from outside Mexico can call Emily Evans at Custom Coastal to make your reservations or travel arrangements at 409-877-4551.
Hosted by the pioneers of whale watching in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja Sur Mexico!
As seen on:
NBC, Readers Digest, Ocean Oasis IMAX film, New York Times,
National Geographic’s Intelligent Traveler Blog, Eye of the Whale
Featured on PBS:
Saving The Ocean with Carl Safina – Episode 1: Destination Baja
Watch Full Episode
Our spacious eco-camp offers the perfect place to relax and unwind while visiting San Ignacio Lagoon! Take some time to enjoy the intertidal zone, the walking trails, and exceptional views of the lagoon and the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. Our camp has a beautiful shore walk! Our seven solar powered cabins are available for rent for one, two, or as many nights as you want to stay at the lagoon. All of our cabañas offer a wall of oversized windows to ensure you can enjoy the beauty of San Ignacio Lagoon – Even from bed! Take a nap, read a book, or just enjoy the breezes. All of our beach cabañas provide our guests with spectacular lagoon views and photo defying sunsets.
For our cabañas with shared bath, clean showers and composting bathrooms are shared and are located near the cabaña area.
3 cabañas are equipped to sleep two people (1 Full Bed or 2 Twin Beds/Shared Bath).
2 cabañas are equipped to sleep three people (1 Full Bed/1 Twin Bed/Private Bath).
1 Premium Cabaña Double or Triple Occupancy – (1 Queen Bed/1 Twin Bed/Private Bath).
1 Premium Cabaña up to Quadruple Occupancy – (1 Queen Bed/2 Twin Beds/Private Bath).
All of our bathrooms, shared and private, are sawdust composting toilets. Here is what a recent reviewer wrote: “The composting eco-toilets are always a conversation starter. Their use of fresh sawdust, trucked in from nearby Santa Rosalia, is the secret to these totally odorless toilets!! In fact that fresh sawdust gives los banos a rather pleasant “woodshop” fragrance.” We encourage you to google “Sawdust Composting Toilets” to learn more about these great systems for use when water is scarce or in areas with no traditional plumbing.
Camping is available with space for tents, truck campers, and RV’s. Bring your own gear or rent tent packages from us!
Our cavernous Earthship Gathering Center serves as camp central for all visitors. Enjoy complementary coffee and tea while looking through our natural history library. Cold soda’s, cervezas, wine, and mixed drinks are available for purchase and are included in our overnight packages. At breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner guests trade stories about whale encounters, desert surprises, and all things Baja. The chefs at Pachico’s Eco Tours utilize fresh seafood and organic produce grown locally. We make every effort to accommodate special diets with advance notice.