As a freelance adventure photographer, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world, always trying to capture its natural beauty. And as an avid surfer, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the ocean and its myriad varied creatures, from tiny sea slugs to enormous sharks. So when I had the chance to spend a long weekend with Nautilus Adventures in San Ignacio, Mexico, to spend three days whale watching in Baja California, I jumped at the opportunity.
Starting from Cabo San Lucas, I took a short two-hour flight to the San Ignacio Lagoon, where the adventure got underway. Immediately after we landed, we were out on the water, scanning the horizon for any kind of whale activity from the migrating cetaceans, like spouts, breaching, or spy hops. Armed with our experienced captain and guide, it seemed like it took no time at all before the Nautilus crew was able to position us in a prime spot to see the region’s many whales. Seemingly without impacting the whales’ normal behavior, we were able to get close enough to touch a baby gray whale (which is legal in this part of the sea; more on that below.) And this wasn’t some cheesy Sea World experience — it was an open-water, wild animal interaction. And it was magical.
With good ocean conditions, as we had, travelers can expect to whale watch in Baja California for about four or five hours a day. Mornings involve layering up with a windbreaker to cut through the chilly air, but by the time the afternoon tours started, it was warm enough for t-shirts and shorts. After we came back on land in the late afternoon, we’d retreat back to the incredible Nautilus camp.
My glamping tent had a comfortable full-sized bed, hotel linens, a sitting area, an en-suite bathroom, and even Wi-Fi. And because the multi-course meals and snacks are included in the flat rate, everything feels comfortable and family-style, especially since the groups are usually relatively small. It was a surprising amount of luxury and comfort for being essentially in the middle of nowhere.
Though the five-day trip felt like it went by in a blink, the Nautilus team does a great job of ensuring everyone has enough time to take fantastic photos of the grey whales as well as other species like dolphins and — lucky us — orcas, which are rare. Whale watching in Baja California was the highlight of the last few years for this travel photographer — and the photos prove it.