Whale-Watching At The Sea Of Cortez

Posted On December 9, 2009 

The Gulf of California is one of the most biologically rich seas in the Western Hemisphere, with about 6000 species of marine macro fauna that includes about 90 species of plants and animals that are unique to the Gulf as well as 60 endemic reptiles and five marine turtle species of the world.

The Gulf of California or the Sea of Cortez is also home to about 26 species of sea birds.

It is home to about 922 islands and attracts about two million tourists annually. Among them are sport fishermen and divers as well.  It is also and important means of livelihood for people living here.

Gulf of CaliforniaIt was named Sea of Cortez in 1540 by the Spanish Explorer Francisco de Ulloa, after his leader Hernan Cortez.


The Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez locally, is a large inlet of the eastern Pacific Ocean along the northwestern coast of Mexico.  To its west is the mountainous peninsula of Baja California.

The Gulf of California stretches over 900 miles. The Colorado, Fuerto, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora and the Yaqui River flow into the Gulf of California, whose surface area is about 160, 000 square kilometers.

The coastline stretches to about 4000 kilometers, bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaoa.

When to go

The Sea of Cortez extends from warm temperate areas in the north to tropics in the south. The Baja Peninsula has an intensely dry climate, with most of the tours being arranged around January to March, to include the whale watching trips.

The coastal Baja is hot and humid in summer. The summer temperatures are about 30 degree Celsius along the coast and rise up to 43 degree Celsius inland. Winters here are cold and windy, with temperatures dropping down to about 9 degree Celsius. September gets most of the rainfalls.

How to go

Mexico of course has airports that are well connected with national and international destinations. There are plenty of ferry services operating on the Gulf of California that connect Baja California to the Mexico.  You could also hire cars or get on a bus that connects Tijuana and Los Cabos on the Trans-peninsula highway. Tijuana and Los Cabos have airports as well.

What to see and do

The Gulf of California has a wide variety of marine life. In fact, these protected waters on the Pacific Coast are the breeding ground for whales. Tourists flock to the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California from January to March to have a whale watching trip. The Magdalena Bay, San Ignacio Lagoon and Scammon’s Lagoon are the best location for the California Gray whales to migrate here.

For Humpback and Blue Whales, Sea of Cortez and Bahia de Los Angeles are the breeding grounds. There are boat cruises for tourists who wish to see these whales.

The border town of Tijuana is a good place if you want to shop for souvenirs and enjoy a good night out.  The town has some traditional attractions as well like bull fighting and Jai Alai, a Spanish ball court game.  The Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, south of La Paz is a Biosphere Reserve since 1994. It is home to rich flora and fauna. The mountain lion, coyotes, foxes, kangaroos, desert mule deer, gophers and badgers are few species of animals found here. The Reserve attracts hikers, mountain bikers and naturalists alike.

In Baja California, there are a number of pretty beaches and bays, deserts, rocky cliffs, all of which satisfy your hunger for all kind of scenic beauties.

The Baja Peninsula has quaint villages that you can explore as well as cave paintings near by. The Gulf of California or the Sea of Cortez has a rich marine life. Divers can have schools of hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whales and marlines waiting beneath the blue waters to greet them. El Bajo is one magnificent site in the Gulf of California. For snorkeling, the Ballandra Bay is good.

Cruising and passing by the towns, villages and beaches in the Gulf of California is an experience in itself.Cabo San Lucas

At the tip of the peninsula is the town of Cabo San Lucas, where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. This is a great diving point as well in the Gulf of California.

The coastal areas on both sides of the Gulf of California are still endowed with a natural charm, unspoiled by human activities. Most pristine archipelago’s of the world take the form of islands within the Gulf of California. There is a threat to this serenity by the growing population of Arizona and Southern California as well as commercial fishing and agricultural development in the coastal areas. Unsustainable tourism too has affected the life of flora and fauna here.  Nevertheless, it still is a thriving tourist destination and efforts have been taken to protect the marine life of the Gulf.

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