A Day in Mag Bay: Up Close with the Great Grey Whales

Grey Whale

Palapas Ventana is your home for everything WHALE.

A hush fell over the panga. We knew they were nearby. I studied the surface of the water looking for any ripple, any sign of where the momma grey whale and her calf had gone. How could something so large disappear so quickly in the shallow, protected waters of Magdalena Bay?

And then, in one breathtaking moment, a prehistoric head reared out of the glassy water just a few yards from the boat. Right next to it another miniature head popped up. They both looked like they were smiling - hovering there for a moment before slipping beneath the water again.

Cheers erupted on the boat. I realized I had been holding my breath the entire time.

The staggering power and beauty of these ancient creatures is an experience tough to describe. And in Mag Bay, that experience is right at your fingertips.

What’s a grey whale?

Grey whales - Eschrichtius robustus - are baleen whales that make their home in the Northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They can reach up to 49 feet long and weigh 40 tons. They live between 50 and 70 years and migrate huge distances - one female was found to have traveled 22,000 km or almost 14,000 miles!

When calving, they gather in shallow, warm-water lagoons with an abundance of their preferred food: small crustaceans that live in the sand. Magdalena Bay is one of these places. Calves are born in January, and remain there to nurse for months before migrating north. In Februray and March, the males take off and the females are actively showing off, feeding, breaching, spyhopping and teaching their baby calves the ropes.

Want to see one up close?

A day with the grey whales in Mag Bay is an unforgettable, life-changing, up-close and personal encounter. Here’s how your day looks: You’ll leave Palapas Ventana early, maybe stopping for some breakfast burritos and cafecitos on the way. After arriving at Magdalena Bay, about 3 hours away, you’ll load up into the panga, or small fishing skiff, and head out into the bay. We'll get you as close as possible to these breathtaking creatures.

Obviously the grey whales are the highlight of the outing. We spent the day hooting and hollering, pointing and crying out with delight, scanning the blue horizon and snapping photos. But a day in Mag Bay holds much more. The Palapas Ventana tour includes lunch in a mangrove lagoon filled with birds. We'll get you out on a paddleboard for a serene lunch break on calm, flat water.

If you’re a bird nerd like myself, paddleboarding through mangroves watching the (quite repulsive) behavior of frigate birds up close was quite the treat.

And if you like treats, the cherry on top of a dream-like day comes after you disembark in the small fishing village of San Carlos where you started. Local hosts offer fresh aguachile - Mexican ceviche made with straight-from-the-ocean scallops. It’s like no other ceviche you’ll ever taste.

If whales are your thing, center a family Ed-Venture vacation around the grey whales of Magdalena Bay. With Palapas Ventana as your home base, you can throw in a few days snorkeling with sea lions, hiking, swimming with whale sharks and sipping tropical drinks by the pool for a rejuvenating, exhilarating, educational and affordable family or couples trip.

Plan your Ed-Venture with us from Feb. 1 to March 30, 2018, and we can customize a week that includes whale sharks , grey whales, humpback whales, dolphins and sea lions.

Baja is a wild place with majestic sea creatures and stunning scenery. Let us show you around.

Want more whales? Click here to find out more.

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Thursday, 22 March 2018