Gray Whale Watching in Baja: San Ignacio and Guerrero Negro

Grey Whale Watching in Baja, Mexico: San Ignacio and Guerro Negro

One of the most spectacular sights to see is gray whale watching in Baja during their migration to San Ignacio Lagoon and other lagoons in Mexico. These massive creatures make the long-haul trip down from Arctic waters all the way down to the Baja California peninsula each year to give birth and raise their newborn calves.

If you come during peak season, you are certain to see many whales and enjoy spectacular sights all around. If all things come together perfectly, you might get to experience the magic of floating within inches of these giant sea mammals and camping in a location where you can listen to them take deep breaths.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Do you want to know exactly where to go, when to visit, and what to do when you arrive for whale watching in Baja California? Then you’ve come to the right spot.

Two grey whales in Laguna Ojo de Liebre's small northern channel

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A grey whale between two tour boats in Baja, Mexico

Background on Gray Whale Watching in Baja, Mexico

The Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino is a very large UNESCO world heritage site. Covering 370,950 hectares, including the lagoon near Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio Lagoon, the gray whales are far from the only mesmerizing inhabitants you can find here.

The area serves as a refuge for reproduction for gray whales, bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, northern elephant seals, blue whales, and four species of marine turtles.

Sounds like a good place to see, right?

A photo of the massive Reserve Biosphere El Vizcaino in Baja, Mexico

A grey whale breaching out of San Ignacio Lagoon

Gray whales have the longest known migration pattern of any mammal. They venture away from their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas in search of warm, protected waters to give birth in.

And Mexico is where they keep returning to, year after year. If you come and visit, you’re going to love the splendor not only of gray whale watching, but also of Baja as a whole.

It has high-altitude mountains with snow, vast desert landscapes with towering cacti, and did I mention the marine life yet? How about the crystal-clear turquoise waters in the Sea of Cortez?

Jacques Cousteau referred to the Sea of Cortez (aka the Gulf of California) as the World’s Aquarium. The surreal amount of marine life found within these gorgeous waters is mind-blowing.

And it’s modern-day ability to please beach-goers, scuba divers, kayakers, surfers, and taco-lovers of all types is something worth investigating yourself.

But watching gray whales in Mexico, found mainly on the Pacific side of Baja, are worth the trip from all over the world.

A grey whale peeking out of the water in Baja, Mexico

When Is Baja Whale Watching Season?

While there is a lot going on year-round in Baja, the winter months are the time to visit for gray whale season. They flock to specific areas en masse, numbering around 3,000 whales in one specific lagoon alone! Do you know which one?! If so, amazing. You better come down soon. If not, keep reading to find out.

Beginning in December and lasting all the way through March, gray whales travel to Baja California Sur (one of two states making up the entire peninsula of Baja, Mexico – the other state is Baja California).

The bountiful biodiversity and calm, warm waters in the lagoons provide sufficient food and the proper environment for the newborn calves to come to life in.

If you want to come in peak season for gray whale watching in Baja Mexico, shoot for mid-February to mid-March. That’s high season.

Come earlier and you’re still likely to see a lot of whales, but you may not see as many newborn calves. And if you come much later than mid-March, you might miss the whales before they return to the cooler waters north. You can always try to catch them as they pass through western US or Canada (California, Washington, British Columbia, etc.), but how can you beat looking eye-to-eye with a week-old newborn calf?

The welcome sign when you cross into Baja California Sur on your way south

Where to Go Whale Watching in Baja, Mexico

The gray whales tend to congregate in major lagoons located in Baja California Sur. Two of the most popular are Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Eye of the Hare Lagoon) near the sizable city of Guerrero Negro and Laguna San Ignacio near the smaller town of San Ignacio.

Camping options exist on both of these lagoons and the towns are around an hour away. Each town also has hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations. Much more information about both options is listed below.

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A young calf and mother whale breathing in Laguna San Ignacio

If you’re coming from a more southern city in Baja, such as Los Cabos or La Paz, tours to Magdalena Bay or San Carlos are the closer options for whale watching tours in Mexico. But it is our understanding that Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio are the superior places to visit with a larger population of whales.

Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio Lagoon are located within the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino, protected waters; while the ones in Magdalena Bay and San Carlos are not as regulated or protected.

If you’d like to visit the Magdalena Bay area from Los Cabos, here are some day trips:

This post is going to focus on Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio, but it will also provide some good all-around information for anyone who wants to visit Baja for whale watching.

Kristina next to one of the massive grey whale skeleton on Ojo de Liebre close to Guerro Negro

Option A: Laguna Ojo de Liebre near Guerrero Negro

Guerrero Negro and the nearby Laguna Ojo de Liebre tend to attract more visitors each year than San Ignacio for whale watching tours. Laguna Ojo de Liebre also attracts more whales.

According to Ejido Benito Juárez (the local cooperative who runs the whale watching tours and tallies an annual count), nearly 3,000 gray whales are spotted each year in the Laguna Ojo de Liebre!

The lagoon is formerly known as Scammon’s Lagoon, attributed to Captain Charles Scammon, a 19th-century whaler. Thankfully, people realized that whaling in the area was hurting the gray whale population and has since been forbidden.

The central plaza in San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Option B: Laguna San Ignacio near San Ignacio

The other, less-popular option (yet our preferred location) is to visit Laguna de San Ignacio to see the gray whales. While a mere 300 or so gray whales visit each year, the lagoon is significantly smaller and the whales tend to stay in one specific area near the mouth of the lagoon.

There are more camping options on the Laguna San Ignacio, and the town of San Ignacio is a prettier place to visit overall. We visited both lagoons for whale watching in Baja and preferred all that San Ignacio offered.

But don’t stress about which location between the two of those. Whatever one you choose, you’re not going to walk away disappointed with your gray whale experience if you visit during peak season.

Kristina having a close encounter with a grey whale in Baja

One of the many ospreys near Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio Lagoon, holding his fresh catch

More Details on Guerrero Negro and Laguna Ojo de Liebre


Guerrero Negro is a company-town, established by a major salt-mining corporation (Exportadora de Sal or ESSA) and houses approximately 10,000 full-time residents.

While I am a big fan of small towns throughout the world, I’ll be a bit blunt: Guerrero Negro is not the prettiest town around. It has everything you need, including accommodations, food, and gas. But it lacks a central plaza and any significant architecture or cultural scene.

A view of the salt flats you pass through on your way from Guerro Negro to Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

The ESSA salt flats are outside of town, and you pass through them on the way down to whale watching in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. In fact, if you drive yourself, you will be stopped at the entrance gate to the salt flats where a security guard will record your license plate. They do not charge a fee and are typically in very good spirits. The guy was quite the joker when we came through.

There is one main avenue in Guerrero Negro, Emiliano Zapata. On it or within a couple blocks, you can find nearly everything in town. There are multiple hotels, RV-park style campgrounds, restaurants of all sorts, fairly large grocery stores, ATMs/banks, and gas stations. There’s even two laundromats in town. Oh yeah, and a very small airstrip!

The grey whales get extremely close to, and sometimes bump, the boats in Baja

How to Get to Guerrero Negro and Ojo de Liebre

By Car: Like a lot of Baja, most people prefer driving down to Guerrero Negro. If you haven’t yet considered a Baja road trip, it’s time you should. There’s so much to see, the whale watching is only a small part of the overall experience.

Kristina and her family have been coming here for decades upon decades, and we are currently exploring to provide updated information on all that we can. Stay tuned for more Baja-related content! (And also check out our coverage on Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico if you love astonishing nature.)

Driving down to Guerrero Negro from Tijuana, you can break up the drive by staying in the cactus-filled wonderland of Cataviña or push for a long day straight to Guerrero Negro.

I suggest cutting it short even if you want to make it in one day because it’s wise to avoid driving on the highway (Mex1) when there is no sunlight. Multiple hazards exist on the road including livestock seeking the warmth of the pavement and the many semi trucks who prefer quick, overnight runs in order to avoid the slow daytime drivers.

From Guerrero Negro, you can get transportation to Laguna Ojo de Liebre included in your whale watching package. Or you can easily drive yourself by taking Mex1 southeast for about 3 or 4 miles to Km 207.5, then hang a right when you see the big sign for Laguna Ojo de Liebre.

The turn from Mex1 to Ojo de Liebre, toward the salt flats

You can also download Google maps offline for the area and it can take you directly there. A great resource anytime you’re going away from cell service.

The paved section of the road ends shortly after the turn, then you’ll drive for about 40 minutes, through the salt flats and security guard, until you’ll reach the entrance gate to the protected area for whale watching tours.

There is a large parking area here, which can fit larger rigs and RV’s. The road was in good shape when we went (little washboard and very few potholes), but that can change. And you may share the road with ESSA’s trucks.

By Plane: There is a very small airstrip in Guerrero Negro you can fly directly into through a company called ASG from Ensenada, Loreto, La Paz, or Los Cabos.

Hotel Los Caracoles is a nice hotel in Guerrero Negro who offers transportation from the airstrip and online reservations through our favorite hotel provider,

Check out camps such as Baja AirVentures for all-inclusive packages including transportation and all camping supplies. If you want to camp in luxury during your visit to Guerrero Negro, you have options.

By Plane/Car Combination: Alternatively, you can fly into one of the cities with major airports (San Diego, Tijuana, Loreto, Cabo San Lucas), rent a car, and drive to the lagoon for Baja whale watching. Then you can either stay in a hotel, schlep your camping/backpacking gear with you, or opt to stay at one of the “campos” (camps) on the lagoon who provide safari-style tents, food, and everything you need except for the clothes on your back (and a small wad of cash, of course). We use Skyscanner to consistently find the cheapest airfares online. 

Rental cars are common all over Mexico and you can easily rent one as a foreigner. My best advice is when getting a quote or making a reservation, make sure you understand the complete price, including any required or desired insurance. Many Mexican agencies require you to purchase additional collision/damage insurance even if you have your own coverage (such as through a good travel credit card).

One of the large palapas at Laguna Ojo de Liebre close to Guerro Negro

Where to Stay in Guerrero Negro

An excellent option for anyone with the proper equipment is to camp directly on the shore of Laguna Ojo de Liebre. At the entrance gate, you can choose between a site with a palapa for $200 pesos per car (a bit more than $10 USD at the current exchange rate) or a site without a palapa for $100 pesos per car.

Most sites have fire pits and trash cans. Some sites are very large and can host multiple large RVs in one area.

Some of the whale watching boats out on San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja

Firewood is available for $150 pesos per bundle at the gate, and we saw someone just inside selling the gate it for $100 pesos. Cheeky fella if you ask me. But either way, that’s a pretty extreme rate for firewood in Mexico. You’re likely better off buying it in Guerrero Negro if you can.

The palapas are large and round, with enough space for two tents inside. Laguna Ojo de Liebre can be EXTREMELY windy, which is why we suggest getting a palapa site.

It also protects from the sun and these sites are closer to the dock where the Mexico gray whale tours leave from. The biggest drawback of this area is that the shoreline is marshy and not so great to walk along. You camp at least 100 yards away from the water, across the road from the marshy area.

An overhead view of the western, sandy shoreline and the southern, marshy shoreline at Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

We actually chose to stay at a site without a palapa on the far western side of the campground area. These sites have a major advantage: they have a sandy beach area and are situated on a small inlet that has a deep channel.

A channel so deep that you might be able to see the whales from your campsite, like we did. Pretty incredible to hear these magnificent creatures breathing while you’re hanging out at the campsite.

But we had a neighbor, who was tent-camping, bail in the afternoon when the wind picked up. And most other neighbors had insulated rigs they could hide in. We ate dinner in the front seats of our trusty Tahoe (and as usual, climbed into the back to sleep.)

There are simple pit toilets and trash cans throughout the campground. Bring your own toilet paper and sufficient water to drink and wash your hands with.

The roads around the campground (and on the way in from town) are in pretty good shape for unpaved roads.

No dump stations, water, or electrical hookups are available at Ojo de Liebre Lagoon.

There are a couple small, private camps popping up inside the campground area for whale watching in Mexico. One is New Whale Safari Camp, and offered large, safari-style tents with locking wooden doors and a port-a-potty onsite. While we had a lot of difficulty in finding good contact information for these groups, I suggest trying Mario’s tours to see if they can help out. They are a very popular for booking tours to Ojo de Liebre.

Whale Watching Safari Camp at Ojo de Liebre

If you want to stay in a hotel or book through another agency, the most popular place for foreign tourists to stay at is Malarrimo, which has been around for decades and has a great reputation for its parking-lot style camping, decent hotel rooms, and restaurant. They also book whale watching boat tours.

Hotel Los Caracoles is another nice hotel in Guerrero Negro. They offer transportation from the airstrip and online reservations through a third-party who can come to your help if anything goes south.

You can also stay in Guerrero Negro, at small campgrounds in town or a few dispersed campsites outside of it. Then you’ll have a choice of driving yourself to the lagoon or having it included in your tour price.

The very-popular Malarrimo Hotel in Guerro Negro

Book a Whale Watching Tour in Ojo de Liebre

Call Ojo de Liebre directly at 615-155-4114 for whale watching tour information. Their main office is in Guerrero Negro, but they do have a small office onsite at the lagoon. The main office in Guerrero Negro accepts credit cards while the office on the lagoon only takes cash.

As stated above, you can also book whale tours through Mario’s and Malarrimo, but it is our understanding that everyone uses the same cooperative at the end of the day. The prices should all be identical as are the services, unless you need additional assistance such as transportation to Ojo de Liebre.

The entrance gate to the protected camping and tour area on Ojo de Liebre Lagoon near Guerro Negro, Baja, Mexico

If you don’t want to make a reservation beforehand, at least give them a call to see if they are fully booked up on the day you might visit. They sometimes get large tour groups that can take up all of their resources during their visit.

The prices for whale watching tours as of February 2020 are $50 per adult and $40 per child, leaving from the pier at the entrance to the campground. Life jackets are included and mandatory.

The boats used are a typical Mexican panga; an open-air wooden boat about 20-25 feet in length, with an outboard motor and simple wooden benches stretching across. We were told tours go with a maximum of ten people per boat and last 1.5 hours.

The main pier where whale watching tours leave from on Ojo de Liebre in Baja

You can find more information by calling the above number or emailing Email is not as common in Mexico, so I suggest calling if you’d like a prompt response.

The tours run from 8am to 4pm. Some people say the morning tours are best for whale sightings, which I usually agree with for any nature-based activity, but the wind can be worse. Oddly enough, the wind seems to die down midday here. I honestly didn’t believe someone when we told me that, but we witnessed it multiple times.

We went on a midday cruise in Laguna San Ignacio and had an unbelievable time, spotting well over 20 whales and having close encounters with quite a few.

There is a restaurant onsite (Restaurante Mexicana de Ballenas Gris) at the Laguna Ojo de Liebre campsite and tour office serving basic Mexican food at reasonable prices (under $200 pesos per meal) and drinks, including alcohol.

There’s a small museum and a whale-bone exhibit on the grounds. You can also pay for a shower here, for $35 pesos. Likely no hot water.

That sums it up for Guerrero Negro. Now onto the other option, San Ignacio. You should really read them both to make sure you select the right option for yourself.

The Mission San Ignacio, a large church built in the 18th century

More Details on San Ignacio and Laguna San Ignacio


I want to go into the history of San Ignacio, but I know you’re here for whale information. So I’ll keep it quick.

San Ignacio has been inhabited for a very long time, dating back to the Cochimí indigenous population thousands of years ago (leaving cave paintings you can still see today) and continuing through the Jesuit habitation of Baja in the 18th century.

In 1728, the Jesuits constructed a major church in San Ignacio, known as the Mission San Ignacio, which still stands today. And it’s right in front of a central plaza.

The plaza is filled with giant Laurel trees, giving abundant shade. And surrounding the plaza are numerous restaurants, taco stands, cafes, and tour agencies.

A photo of the large trees in the San Ignacio plaza

Plus, San Ignacio has all the amenities you need. Mid-range hotels, budget hotels, RV parks, campgrounds with giant yurts, a sizable supermarket, a gas station, car wash, and more.

Make sure to bring sufficient cash for everything you need. While recent report have told us there are two ATMs now in town, the area generally prefers cash and you don’t want to get stuck without it. Sometimes ATMs in smaller towns of Baja run out of available cash. And quite a few establishments do not accept credit card whatsoever. But the Pemex gas station does, thankfully.

Suffice it to say that San Ignacio is a much prettier town than Guerrero Negro and generally a better tourist destination.

The river flowing through San Ignacio, allowing it to be a nice oasis in the middle of a vast desert landscape

How to Get to the San Ignacio Lagoon

This section is going to very closely mimic the section for how to get to Guerrero Negro, with one major exception. While it only takes about 45 minutes to get from the town of Guerrero Negro to the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, you’ll need to double that for San Ignacio town to the San Ignacio Lagoon. And you have a choice of places to stay along the San Ignacio Lagoon.

It takes approximately 1.5 hours to get from the town to Laguna San Ignacio, where the whale watching tours are located. And the road, while used often by the fishermen and whale-watching tours, was in rough shape when we visited in February 2020. It was 2WD accessible, but over a road thoroughly covered in washboard.

By the time we arrived to camp, I wasn’t sure if my teeth would stop chattering, even after airing down the tires significantly.

(Side note: If you like oysters and are driving yourself down to San Ignacio Lagoon, take a moment to pop out to Sol Azul. This large-scale oyster farm serves up some of the best and cheapest oysters I’ve had in a very long time; I got a dozen of their smallest for $60 pesos! They weren’t the smallest oysters I’ve had, but they were great (and that’s coming from someone who’s spent some significant time in Cape Cod. The only reservation I had about them is that they are a type of oyster imported from Japan, not the indigenous species to the area. They can also do tastings with cheese and wine for large groups if you call ahead.)

The waterboard-covered road leading down to San Ignacio Lagoon

By Car: If you’re driving in Baja, play it safe by stopping in San Ignacio to refuel on gas before hitting the road south to Laguna San Ignacio. If you’re going like we were, without reservations and searching for the perfect campsite, you may need to drive around a bit even after driving the 1.5 hours down.

There are a handful of different whale watching tour operators in San Ignacio Lagoon who leave from separate areas, unlike Ojo de Liebre which essentially has one pier. (Although we understand that both have a cooperative between all boats in either lagoon.) The operations at San Ignacio Lagoon line the southeastern shoreline of the lagoon and stretch on for miles.

By Plane: If you’re coming from far away, you can fly directly into the San Ignacio Lagoon for whale watching in Baja, Mexico. The very, very small airstrip is only a tiny bit north of most camps, but there are not many operators flying directly into here and is likely only the best option for those willing to charter a plane or book through an all-inclusive camp, such as Campo Cortez (listed below).

Otherwise, you can fly into the small airstrip in Guerrero Negro from other cities in Baja (like Tijuana or Ensenada) for a fairly affordable sum through ASG. You’ll need to have transportation from the airport to San Ignacio Lagoon booked in advance as there are no rental cars nearby. Or you can fly into the much larger airport in Loreto (about 4 hours away from San Ignacio), which offers rental cars.

By Tour Agency: Some people choose to pay a bit more to visit the San Ignacio Lagoon for whale watching by booking a tour with an established agency, rather than going on their own. You can absolutely do either, but if you want to be served a bit more and take some stress out of the equation, tour operators can provide transportation from the airstrip/airport in Guerrero Negro or Loreto. More information listed below.

Another option is to park in San Ignacio and have your tour operator drive down the washboard-covered roads. Great for those who don’t want to have everything little thing inside their rig rattled to death.

Kristina and Michael on one of Antonio's tour boats in San Ignacio

Where to Stay at San Ignacio

There are plenty of options for accommodations in San Ignacio and at the lagoon. If you are only interested in staying on the lagoon, you’re going to be away from modern conveniences and running on solar power. Some camps do have flushing toilets in RV-style setups, but most use composting toilets.

The campgrounds on the lagoon are listed below in the tour section because you usually book your accommodations with your tour if you go this route.

You can still camp outside of the established campgrounds on the lagoon as well, at dispersed or “wild” campsites with no amenities at all. It is getting more difficult to find spots which are not filled with the tour camps, but it is possible. We stayed multiple nights in a location we received from other travelers, just south of the very popular Kuyima camp.

If you have any desire to do this, understand that you are camping in a protected area and make sure to leave no trace. Only leave behind footprints and only take photos with you. Check out iOverlander for some advice on specific locations to stay, or just keep your eyes peeled for existing roadways going west from the road toward the lagoon.

The shoreline of the San Ignacio Lagoon, showing one of the sandy areas (but there are some mangrove and marshy areas too)

Finally, you can also stay quite comfortably in the town of San Ignacio and simply go to the lagoon for a day trip, whether that’s in a hotel, RV park, campground, or the popular yurt camp in town.

If you want the most amenities, the La Huerta Hotel in San Ignacio is for you. Otherwise, Hotel Posada is an affordable option.

For campgrounds, we enjoyed staying at El Padrino. This locally-owned and run campground is a 5-minute walk to the plaza and features WiFi, hot showers, electrical hookups, and a large palapa.

The very friendly host named Ignacio lives onsite, providing round-the-clock service and security. Pet friendly. I could go on and on about how much we loved staying here and befriending Ignacio and his family, but that’ll have to be another day.

Some of the RV parking at El Padrino's RV Park in San Ignacio

Los Petates is another popular campground in San Ignacio, but it is farther from the city center and does not have an attendant who is onsite 24 hours. It has a nice location next to the main river flowing through town though.

Finally, one of the most popular options in San Ignacio for accommodations is Ignacio Springs. Farther away from town than most options, this Canadian-owned establishment has large yurts and a fairly luxurious amenities.

Kristina walking toward our whale watching tour boat in San Ignacio Lagoon

Book a Baja Whale Watching Tour in Laguna San Ignacio

Now on to the best part: the whale watching tours in San Ignacio Lagoon. You have plenty of options, so don’t be afraid to shop around a bit. Although generally speaking, they all give a VERY similar tour on VERY similar boats, and we understand that the cooperatives establish a set price for the day whale watching tours.

The main differences will be in the types of packages they offer (overnight accommodations, transportation), the ability to speak English, and the type of food served. Some are all-inclusive while others are more like a hotel or campground with a whale tour operation onsite.

Pachico’s – The Founder and Home to the Happiest People on the Lagoon

The one who started giving whale watching tours before anyone else is Pachico’s. It is also the northernmost camp and the first one you’ll drive past on your way to the lagoon. It offers cabins starting at $900 pesos per night (more if you want a toilet inside your cabin) or camping for $100 pesos. There is a restaurant and bar onsite.

Pachico’s whale watching tours in Baja are $55 USD per person, leaving multiple times per day usually around 11 am and 2 or 3 pm. There is a lower price if you are a Mexican resident, around $650 pesos per person.

The cabins and restaurant area at Antonio's Whale Watching Tours in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja

Antonio’s – A Very Reasonable Place and Incredible Experience

The next camp you’ll encounter, and another longtime resident, is Antonio’s. This is the one we did our whale watching tour with (although we really liked the guys at Pachico’s too) and we had a great time. Their whale watching tours are $55 USD per person, and they also have cabins onsite.

People seem to really love that Antonio’s offer free coffee and tea. Their restaurant and bar offers satellite WiFi with purchase. You can find out more information at their office in San Ignacio, inside Restaurant Victor in the plaza.

The Kuyima whale watching tour company's office near the main plaza in San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Kuyima – The Big, Modern Whale

Up next is Kuyima. They are one of the more popular accommodation options and have a large office in the main plaza where you can get all the information you need. Very modern amenities and nice staff. Not the cheapest, but likely for good reason.

Kuyima offers whale watching 4 day packages for $690 USD, day trips for whale watching tours for the usual $55 USD, and overnight camping/cabins starting at $8 USD per person. You can rent camping gear for $40 USD per night.

They also have transportation from the town of San Ignacio, and the price depends on how many people go with you.

Kristina enjoying the abundant sunlight on our whale watching baja boat tour

Campo Cortez – All-Inclusive Glamping with Transit from Afar

One that focuses on all-inclusive packages is up next: Campo Cortez, aka Baja Eco Tours. This luxury camping option provides all inclusive packages starting at a fairly substantial $2,575, including transportation from as far away as San Diego.

But this includes 5 days of adventures and everything you need coming all the way from San Diego, plus a significant itinerary full of learning, fun, and great food.

If you want someone to take care of absolutely everything for you, then this is the place to look. You can choose between flight transportation going directly to the airstrip on San Ignacio lagoon, or bus fare to save some dough.

We spoke to one of the representatives from Campo Cortez who was very friendly. He informed us about their fresh-caught seafood meals, environmentally-focused methods, and their desire to keep their clientele as satisfied as humanly possible. You can show up for self-arrivals to Campo Cortez, but that isn’t really their specialty.

While their prices are definitely not the cheapest, you will have the easiest time going with them and will likely learn and experience the most possible.

A calf and mother grey whale enjoying the warm Baja waters during their trip south

Summary for Gray Whale Watching in Baja Mexico

Wow, who thought that going to see gray whales in Baja would have some many options! Make sure you come sometime between late December and March to have any chance to see the whales; mid-February to mid-March for the best opportunity.

First, decide whether you want to go to Laguna Ojo de Liebre, which has over 3,000 whales each season, but the nearby town of Gerrero Negro isn’t so pretty. Or if the cute town of San Ignacio and the slightly-less-accessible San Ignacio Lagoon with multiple tour operators sounds best.

Keep in mind that you can still see dozens and dozens of whales in San Ignacio Lagoon, even though it only gets around 300 per season since it’s a smaller lagoon.

Two grey whales, including a calf about a week old, in San Ignacio Lagoon

Second, figure out how you’re going to get there. Drive down yourself, fly into Loreto and rent a car, or go with Campo Cortez in San Ignacio or Baja AirVentures in Guerrero Negro to get all-inclusive packages taking care of everything from San Diego in the US.

Finally, decide whether you want to stay on the lagoon at your own campsite with a palapa (Ojo de Liebre near Guerrero Negro), at a campground or in a cabin on San Ignacio, or simply crash at a hotel in either one of the towns near the whale watching tour operators and head down to the lagoon for the day.

If you want a hotel, we recommend Hotel Los Caracoles in Guerrero Negro and La Huerta Hotel in San Ignacio.

You can book a tour in advance, but you should almost always be able to find an operator to go with upon arrival. Mario’s Tours in Guerrero Negro accepts advanced reservations as does Antonio’s in San Ignacio.

And with that, you’re ready to go! Don’t forget to bring some ocean-safe sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and your best camera gear with. You’re going to have the time of your life!

Kristina was so excited to see the whales that she cried! Have you ever witnessed a natural event so magical it brought you to tears? Leave a comment below to share!

18 thoughts on “Gray Whale Watching in Baja: San Ignacio and Guerrero Negro”

  1. Thanks for the good info. I took a group to San Ignacio a couple of times but now want to go to Ojo de Liebre. I want the group to meet up in Loreto but haven’t found a way to hire transporation to and from Loreto to Guerrero Negro. Any ideas? Not interested in renting and driving a van myself! Thanks so much!

    1. Michael Bradley

      That can be a tough route to find transportation for. There is an ABC Bus route that passes through both areas, so that might be your best bet. Otherwise, you could look to hire private transportation in Loreto (a car or high-passenger van), but you’ll probably need to compensate them for their time they stay in Guerrero Negro waiting to return, so that could be quite expensive. You could also email one of the private tour companies in the area (such as to see if they have any options or ideas.

  2. Hi, thanks for the article! Did you see more whales at Guerrero Negro? I am a bit confused because it says that there are around 1000 whales. And at San Ignacio just around 200-300.

    1. Hi Serge! As long as you go during peak season, you can be nearly guaranteed to see whales at either lagoon. Ojo de Liebre (near Guerrero Negro) is indeed known for getting more, but the guides at San Ignacio are skilled at locating the ones that are in the bay. And there are still plenty enough for them to spot.

      Either lagoon, you’re most likely to be awestruck by the handful of whales that will come up right next to the boat. A keen eye can still spot them in the distance (at either lagoon), but both places typically offer an intimate experience with at least a few whales. And that’s really the biggest benefit of these visits.

      You can read more about the typical migration pattern and where the whales can be spotted.

  3. Jennifer Wesaw

    Thanks for the great article and all your great advice. I’m taking my mom to see the whales in February for her birthday and you helped me figure out where we’re going!

    1. Michael Bradley

      It’s a great experience! A February trip will be ideal. Have a blast and thanks for leaving the comment!

  4. Currently planning a trip and was wondering what the differences were between the 2 lagoons. You mentioned wind at Ojo de Liebre. If a person in our group was very concerned about rough waters, would San Ignacio tend to be calmer/less windy?

    1. Hi Ellen, thanks for reading our article. The winds can get rough all over the Baja peninsula in the winter months. In our experience, Laguna San Ignacio and the town of San Ignacio are usually less windy than the Guerrero Negro and Laguna Ojo de Liebre area. Enjoy your trip!

  5. Thanks for this really useful info. Having so much info in one spot really helped us to make the decison. Just an update tho, San Ignacio now has 2 atms. We were told by someone connected with the tour operators that we could pay with a credit card, but upon arrival at the lagoon it was not functioning. So get $$ in town!! Luckily we had just enough pesos! Just waiting for the wind to die down to head out with Antonio. Great experience so far!

    1. Hi Hannah! Thanks for the update about the available ATMs! That’s very useful to know and pass along to others. And we agree, it’s nice to be able to pay with credit card when you can (get those travel points!), but in many places, having the cash on hand as a backup is best. Hope you have a great time out on the water. Say hi to whales for us!

  6. Thanks for report! But looks like Pachico Ecotours doubled or even tripled their price. In 2022 they charge 280 USD per person(!) per night in US Dollars for 1 day, incl. 2 whale watching tours and 3 meals.

    1. Hi Serge! Thanks for the info. The price we listed above was just for a single whale watching tour, but it looks like the rate has increased to $65 USD per person now. I’ll go ahead and update that!

  7. This is a great review and blog, I am solo female and this is my bucket list trip which I’ve been putting off for a few years but with all the campsite info etc on here I feel more comfortable, will be planning my trip for next Feb from the UK. Thinking now to hire an RV from San Diego and make a bit of a road trip. Thanks for all the detail.

  8. Great article. Thanks. I am going in March to whale watch and could not make up my mind where to go. Your ideas did it for me. Keep up the great work.


    1. Glad to hear that you found the article helpful! You can’t go wrong with any option, but it’s always best to know what you’re getting into. We’re down in Baja again this winter and have heard great reports about whale watching this season. As a matter of fact, we can see quite a few from the beach we’re at right now! Enjoy your trip!

  9. This is by far the best article I’ve found while planning our family road trip! I just followed you on Instagram. Thanks for your hard work putting this all together.

    1. Thanks for the supportive comment! Our goal is to help and inspire others to travel more and we LOVE feedback showing it.

      Have a blast on your road trip!

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