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Baja California & Sea of Cortez

Tour Code: MEX01

A 14-day whale-watching and wildlife holiday, including an 11-night cruise down the western coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula and round into the Sea of Cortez.

14 days from £5995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4995 SRS: £595

There are few, if any, whale watching destinations that can rival Mexico’s Baja California! Naturetrek’s small-ship cruises in February and March – onboard ‘Spirit of Adventure’ and ‘Searcher’ – offer the opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking array of whale and dolphin species, from huge Blue Whales to the diminutive Harbour Porpoise. Other highlights include ‘eye-to-eye’ encounters with Grey Whales, thousands of dolphins in the Sea of Cortez, and several other whale species. Elephant Seal, turtles, sea lions and a variety of birds make up a fascinating supporting cast, while the endless blue skies and warm weather will be a welcome relief from our cold, grey British winters.

  • Exclusively chartered small ship focusing solely on whale watching & other wildlife
  • Maximum of 26 passengers
  • Close encounters with San Ignacio’s friendly Grey Whales
  • Sightings of Blue Whale (100% success as of 2017!)
  • Humpback, Fin, Bryde’s & Sperm Whales; chance of seeing Orca
  • Thousands of dolphins
  • Varied birdlife including Red-billed Tropicbird & endemic Xantu’s Hummingbird
  • Visit Cardon Cacti deserts
  • Snorkel with sea lions & other marine life
  • Expert guidance by Naturetrek & local naturalist guides


All included in the price, except for lunches and dinners in San Diego.


Fot these voyages we have exclusively chartered the MV Searcher which carries 25 pax. Additional information can be found in the detailed tour itinerary or main Naturetrek brochure.

Humpback Whale (Paul Marshall)

Humpback Whale (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly San Diego

Day 2 Board the MV Searcher

Day 3 Todos Santos Island

Day 4 San Benitos Island

Day 5/6 San Ignacio Lagoon

Day 7 Magdalena Bay

Day 8/12 Sea of Cortez

Day 13 Depart Baja California

Day 14 Arrive London

Baja California has long been described as the ‘Galapagos of Mexico’s. From the Pacific-pounded shores of its western coastline round to the sheltered blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, this 1,285-kilometre peninsula, one of the world’s longest, is home to a diversity of wildlife that could easily rival Darwin’s more famous islands over 1,600 kilometres to the south. Flocks of Magnificent Frigatebirds soar ominously overhead, whilst lines of Brown Pelicans and Brant’s Cormorants file over the sea’s surface and hundreds of Sea Lions rest on isolated rocky islands. Inland, Crested Caracaras sit atop the huge Cardon Cacti which cover much of the desert interior and tiny hummingbirds sip nectar from a variety of colourful desert plants.

Baja is, without doubt, a naturalist’s paradise. Yet there is one family of animals above all others in which it excels — the cetaceans. The rich feeding grounds of the Sea of Cortez and the sheltered bays along the Pacific coastline combine to produce one of the best whale-watching experiences anywhere in the world. This exciting holiday will take you down the western coastline of the Baja Peninsula and then round into the deep blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. It will offer such unforgettable experiences as eye-to-eye contact with the Grey Whales of San Ignacio, the chance to be surrounded by thousands of dolphins, and the opportunity to look for the mighty Blue Whale, the largest animal on Earth.

Our tour begins with a flight to San Diego in California. Here we board the MV Searcher, an American registered vessel that comfortably accommodates 25 passengers. We cruise south from San Diego, stopping en route to explore the many seabird colonies and Elephant Seal rookeries, and some of the isolated islands such as Todos Santos and San Benitos. On our third day we will arrive at the world famous San Ignacio Lagoon, home to Baja’s ‘friendly’s Grey Whales.

Every year between 17,000 and 24,000 Pacific Grey Whales make the 8,000- kilometre journey south from the cold, invertebrate-rich waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas to the lagoons and bays along Baja’s Pacific coastline. Here, in the warm sheltered waters, they assemble to mate and give birth. Grey Whales are naturally inquisitive creatures, especially the mothers and small calves, but at San Ignacio they seem to genuinely revel in human contact; there is no need to look for the whales here, they will quickly find you! There can be few more memorable wildlife experiences than being able to look one of these gentle creatures straight in the eye as it raises its head out of the water next to the boat; a truly moving moment in a highlight-packed tour!

Leaving San Ignacio behind, we continue our journey south. Off the coastline of Magdalena Bay we hope to find such cetaceans as Bryde’s, Humpback and Fin Whales, together with huge pods of Common Dolphins. The birdlife is equally diverse, with Brown and Blue-footed Boobies, Black-vented Shearwaters, Royal Terns and Pomarine Skuas feeding over the sea, whilst areas of coastal mangroves hold Reddish Egrets, Tri-coloured Herons, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills and Long-billed Curlews.

Rounding Baja’s southern cape we enter the deep blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of cetaceans. Here a maze of submarine canyons and sea mounts deflect nutrient-rich water to the surface to feed blooms of plankton and other sea creatures. It is this rich food supply that attracts the cetaceans and we will spend the remainder of our holiday exploring this narrow sea in search of whales and other marine-life. In particular we will be on the look-out for the huge, 12-metre tall ‘blow’s of water vapour that marks the surfacing of the magnificent Blue Whale, an animal that can grow to over 27 metres (90 feet) in length! A wide variety of other whale species share the Blue Whale’s domain and, during our five days here, we will search for Humpback, Fin, Minke, Sperm and Bryde’s Whales, plus more elusive species such as Orca, Dwarf Sperm Whale and Pygmy Killer Whale. Once again Bottlenose and Common Dolphins abound in these waters, pods of the latter sometimes numbering in the thousands! In addition to the whale-watching, there will be daily excursions onto remote islands and into coastal habitats in search of Guadalupe Fur Seals and birds such as Gila Woodpecker, Black-throated Sparrow, Crested Caracara, the endemic Xantu’s Hummingbird and perhaps even the rare and exquisitely beautiful Red-billed Tropicbird. There will also be plenty of opportunities for snorkelling in search of turtles, rays and some of the other 650 species of fish that inhabit the Sea of Cortez.

At the end of our journey we must sadly disembark at Cabo San Lucas, Baja’s southernmost community and, with memories of whales and other wildlife that will last a lifetime, we begin our journey home.

Humpback Whale breaching (Paul Marshall)Blue Whale fluke (Paul Marshall)Smooth-tailed Mobula (Paul Marshall)Common Dolphins (Paul Marshall)Red-billed Tropicbird (Paul Marshall)Blue Whale (Paul Marshall)Sea of Cortez (Paul Marshall)Seabirds (Paul Marshall)Brown Pelican (Paul Marshall)Sea of Cortez (Paul Marshall)Humpback Whale (Paul Marshall)Common Dolphin (Paul Marshall)Loggerhead Turtle (Paul Marshall)Humpback Whale (Paul Marshall)Magnificent Frigatebird (Paul Marshall)Grey Whale surfacing (Paul Marshall)Naturetrek group (Paul Marshall)Black Turnstone (Paul Marshall)Northern Elephant Seal (Paul Marshall)Black-footed Albatross (Paul Marshall)Harbour Seal (Paul Marshall)Laysan Albatross (Lee Morgan)Minke Whale (Lee Morgan)Grey Whale (Lee Morgan)Humpback Whale (Lee Morgan)Minke Whale (Lee Morgan)Willet (Lee Morgan)Bottle-nosed Dolphin (Lee Morgan)Blue Whale encounter (Lee Morgan)Bottle-nosed Dolphin (Lee Morgan)Brown Booby (Lee Morgan)Grey Whale breach (Lee Morgan)Elephant Seal (Lee Morgan)Humpback breach (Lee Morgan)Mola (Lee Morgan)Common Dolphin (Lee Morgan)Osprey on nest (Lee Morgan)Pacific Diver (Lee Morgan)Grey Whale calf (Lee Morgan)A small Green Turtle with Pilot Fish (Lee Morgan)Brown Urchin (Lee Morgan)California Sea Lion (Lee Morgan)Elephant Seal weaners (Lee Morgan)Giant Cardon Cacti (Lee Morgan)Grey Whale (Lee Morgan)Humpback (Lee Morgan)Long-beaked Common Dolphin (Lee Morgan)Northern Elephant Seal bull  (Lee Morgan)Northern Elephant Seals (Lee Morgan)Panamic Cushion Star (Pentaceraster cumingi) with Gorgonians - Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez (Lee Morgan)Sally Lightfoot Crab (Lee Morgan)Searcher anchored at Punta Colorado (Lee Morgan)Short-finned Pilot Whale (Lee Morgan)Speckled Rattlesnake (Lee Morgan)Stone Scorpionfish (Lee Morgan)The Giant Barrel Cactus (lee Morgan)Yellowtail Surgeonfish (Lee Morgan)Young pelican (Lee Morgan)Humpback Whale (Nikki Humphrey)Blue Whale (Dave Brotton)Bottlenose Dolphin (Dave Brotton)Common Dolphins (Dave Brotton)Costa's Hummingbird (Dave Brotton)Grey Whale Dave (Brotton)Humpback Whale (Dave Brotton)
Highlights included: Seeing a blue whale, the largest living animal on our planet, for the very first time and at such close range. Seeing six other whale species as well, including one dead sperm whale. Enjoying an incredible display by 250 or more dolphins one afternoon. Gazing in wonder at a whale shark coming within arm's length of our skiff with its enormous mouth wide open as it fed. Having glorious sightings of a black-footed albatross, a red-billed tropic bird, scores of storm petrels and terns, as well as nesting ospreys, egrets and herons, orioles and frigatebirds. Neither will I forget the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, nor the Milky Way that night when all the boat's lights were switched off. Magic!
I enjoyed everything on this trip. The variety of prolific wildlife was amazing, not to mention getting so close to all these amazing creatures. The trip leaders and the crew were exceptional. It was such a great trip with a great group of fellow travellers. I keep having to pinch myself as I can't believe I had all the experiences I did - it is like a dream. So much of the trip was magical. We were very blessed to have seen what we did. It was like taking part in our own wildlife programme. I can't single out one experience over another as they were all very special in their own way. When I first read the details of this holiday I thought it sounded too good to be true - I can now say it was even better than the brochure indicated. Definitely a very, very special trip and worth every penny.
B.H. & E.H.
Best holiday ever! Never dreamt we would get so close to the whales or see so many species of cetaceans, birds and other animals. The food was some of the best we have had in North America, and the crew were awesome without exception.
F.J. & J.M.
The holiday was an amazing experience - we saw 9 species of whales and dolphins, 4 pinnipeds and nearly 100 species of bird we had not seen before - and we loved the peace and quiet of the islands we visited. Our guides Lee and Rob were knowledgeable and enthusiastic and added hugely to the experience.
This was a wonderful trip from start to finish. The crew were knowledgeable, supportive, friendly, efficient, cheerful and funny. Wonderful encounters with grey whales, amazing sightings of sea creatures and other whales. A lovely atmosphere on the trip.
The trip met the description set out in the brochure but exceeded our expectations - we had not anticipated the skill and dedication of the skipper and crew in spotting, tracking and following the whales to maximise our sightings and overall experience and enjoyment of the trip.
Mr & Mrs H.
South Humberside
Based on reading your website and trip reports we had great expectations of this trip. I am pleased to say that these were easily exceeded. The tour arrangements, the guides, and the Spirit of Adventure and its crew were great, topped only by our experience of the whales, dolphins and other sea-life. It is hard to imagine how this experience could have been bettered.
Amazing trip of a lifetime. Whale experience awesome. Crew extremely attentive and professional. Catered for our every need. Will certainly recommend this excellent holiday to others.
Mr & Mrs S.
Art Taylor and his team were first class. They all make for a wonderful experience. Lee Morgan and Rob Nawojchik are superb guides. I have been on several guided trips and this team is by far the best. Both were always available, working hard to search for wish-list species. This was always done at a pace that suited all and ensured that everyone had a memorable trip.
Lee Morgan is a star. Always helpful, caring and very knowledgeable about all aspects of the wildlife we encountered. We enjoyed every minute of this holiday and can't think of anything that could be improved.
Just a note to say how much we all enjoyed our recent Baja California holiday aboard the Spirit of Adventure. It really was a tremendous trip with each day bringing fresh delights, from the humbling experience of the personal contact with the grey whales in San Ignacio to the sheer exhilaration of swimming with the sea lions at Los Islotes. We are left with so many wonderful memories (as well as innumerable photos and videos …) it would be almost impossible to pick one thing as the highlight of the trip. We can’t commend enough Tim and Scott. Apart from their excellent company, their contribution to the trip through their sheer enthusiasm for what they were doing and fantastic knowledge was invaluable. When you add in the crew of the good ship Spirit of Adventure, whose attentiveness and unfailing good humour really were the icing on the cake, it all added up to a tremendous holiday which we would have had no hesitation in recommending to others. Only one word of complaint, diet sheets should be issued at the end of the trip to help get rid of the excess pounds we put on due to Dan and Dean’s great cooking! Our thanks to everyone involved in making this trip possible.
The holiday delivered all it promised - touching Grey Whales, seeing Blue Whales, snorkelling with sea lions and so much more. Captain Art and his crew could not have done more. The food was very good; they were very helpful & knowledgeable and their organisation was superb. To be truthful, I have almost run out of superlatives regarding this holiday. Well Done Naturetrek!.
...without your support and expertise, we wouldn’t have had such a wonderfully successful trip. I am still ‘there in spirit with the whales and dolphins’, an unforgettable and truly magical experience
my fifth trip with Naturetrek and the best so far. The Searcher was top notch in every way, a first class holiday!
A wonderful trip, one of the best we've ever done. I don't see how it can be improved. The crew of Search couldn't be more helpful and cheerful, every one of them. The leaders knowledgable, enthusiastic and hard-working. I would recommend this holiday to anyone.
For me this was the best holiday I have ever had. So much to do and see. A real wow factor!!
This was a wonderful holiday. I’ve ran out of superlatives in describing the experience since I got back. Superb itinerary. Unforgettable sights. Great crew. Excellent food. Thank you.
This trip was excellent value for money. We both had a holiday of a lifetime. The 'Searcher' team were brilliant. Art is a skillful Captain & wildlife watcher. His crew were all polite, helpful, knowledgeable, interesting and fun to be with. Lee, was knowledgeable & willling to help with camera & photography problems. It was very noticeable how he went out of his way to give everyone on the trip personal time & often helped with serving drinks and food to ensure the smooth running of mealtimes. We would definitely recommend this trip to our friends, and any trip that Lee was guiding.
This was a truly outstanding experience. We had it all! Exceptional viewings of 7 species of whale, generally calm seas, blue skies & sunshine, enthusiastic & knowledgeable guides, superb food, brilliant birdwatching, special experiences snorkelling, a friendly funny and helpful crew, good company and amenable group and don’t forget the dolphins..thank you!
Sheila and I had a wonderful experience. It was a most amazing trip and surpassed our wildest expectations. As well as the outstanding nature experience the leaders were exceptionally kind as were all of the crew of the Spirit of Endeavour.
T. & J.F.
Excellent trip all round. Both Tim and Scott were great tour leaders at all times imparting excellent commentary backed up with sound knowledge of the flora and fauna. The Captain and crew of the Spirit of Adventure were faultless in their care and our needs. Congratulations and many thanks to all. Well done.
Quite simply the best two weeks of my life so far!
M.B. & A.K.
A fantastic experience which we thoroughly enjoyed. Hope to be back one day. Thank you to all the guides and crew for helping make this such a special holiday.
The food was excellent - much appreciated. Crew were very good - helpful, good sense of humour etc. Local naturalist and guide, very good.
This was a fantastic trip, excellent views and photo opportunities. The Spirit of Adventure was a wonderful boat with a great crew and splendid food. The naturalist Scott Anderson was excellent.
Food on boat excellent, helpful hands, and great thrill being able to pat a grey whale and calf!
Boat - immaculately clean and kept that way throughout... friendly and helpful crew who went out of their way to make the holiday memorable... food beyond all expectations. How Dan produced such food in such quantities from such a small galley, borders on the miraculous... The lengths Mike and the crew went to find whales and the skill Mike used to get us close to them when found deserves the highest praise and thanks. Itinerary - brilliant. Whales - beyond our expectations. A privilege to be able to touch Grey Whales and swim with Sea Lions, to name but two of the highlights. Scott - excellent, extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
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Thu 21st February 2019 - Wed 6th March 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Fri 21st February 2020 - Thu 5th March 2020



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £5395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Mexico

Detailed tour map

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Paul Stanbury
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

Tour Focus


Tour Reviews

Highlights included: Seeing a blue whale, the largest living animal on our planet, for the very first time and at such close range. Seeing six other whale species as well, including one dead sperm whale. Enjoying an incredible display by 250 or more dolphins one afternoon. Gazing in wonder at a whale shark coming within arm's length of our skiff with its enormous mouth wide open as it fed. Having glorious sightings of a black-footed albatross, a red-billed tropic bird, scores of storm petrels and terns, as well as nesting ospreys, egrets and herons, orioles and frigatebirds. Neither will I forget the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, nor the Milky Way that night when all the boat's lights were switched off. Magic!
I.B., Gwynedd