To have an unforgettable encounter with the majestic gray and blue whales, travelers should visit Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town) Loreto in Mexico’s Baja California.
Loreto is an oasis wedged between the waters of the Mar de Cortés and the desert lands of the Sierra Giganta. It is the remote land that the Jesuits used to begin their pilgrimage to evangelize and colonize Baja and Alta California.
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It is also the largest temporary refuge for gray and blue whales in the world. It sits across from a cluster of islands declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still one of Mexico’s favorite sun and beach destinations.
Every January, its lucky waters receive dozens of specimens of blue whales, the largest mammal in the world, which arrive to complete their reproductive process through mating and breeding.
To view them, visitors must sail to Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (Loreto Bay National Park) – with its bay and islands – converted into a sanctuary and where service providers take them for passive viewing, according to rules established so as not to affect the species.
Once the boat locates a whale, usually guided by the expelled jet of water by breathing or showing its back, it approaches at a speed of less than 4 km per hour and maintains a distance of 100 meters (about 328 feet), so tourists should keep their eyes wide open so as not to miss their serene swim.
In cases where the specimen naturally approaches the boat, visitors should not touch it, shout, let alone jump into the water to try to swim with it.
During the blue whale watching season, which runs from January to March, travelers also have the privilege of observing another species, the gray whale. To do this, they must leave Loreto by boat to Bahía de Magdalena (Magdalena Bay), a two-hour drive.
This specimen, especially the young ones, has the particularity of jumping and approaching boats with more confidence. Remember to follow the rules in both cases so that their natural behavior is not affected.
Loreto is 226 miles from La Paz and communicates with the major cities of Baja California Sur and Baja California through the Transpeninsular Highway. However, it is also accessible by a 30-minute plane flight from the capital of Baja California Sur.
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