What is the weather like in the lagoon during the whale watching season?
The weather can be warm but it can also be chilly at the lagoon between January and April especially because of the wind. Mornings and Evenings can be cold. Laguna San Ignacio is a windy place. It is normal for the wind to blow from the north all night and into the mid morning. It stops for about an hour before noon only to change direction and blow from the west for the rest of the day. Some time in the evening it will stop again briefly and will once again blow from the north through the night.
Calm windless days or nights are not common and should be treasured.
Sometimes very strong winds from the north called “nortes” will begin to blow and will not stop for anywhere from one to 4 days. When the wind is over 22 mph the whale watching area closes to all boats.
Come prepared for any weather, from summer conditions like conditions to chilly and wet.
2. What should I bring with me?
Bring your camera, extra batteries, battery charger, sun screen, clothes for warm or cool weather, a waterproof layer to protect you and your camera from being soaked while on the boat, uv light for scorpions, lip balm, hat, waterproof footwear, your favorite soap, shampoo and toothpaste. I know I’m forgetting something but will add it when I remember.
Tightly fitting shoes or sandals are recommended because to get on and off the boats you sometimes have to walk over very slippery rocks.
If you are camping bring a sturdy tent that can stand up to strong winds, warm blanket,
3. How do I get to Laguna San Ignacio?
If you are driving from the US you can come down the Mexico hwy 1 from Tijuana, through Ensenada and all the way down to San Ignacio. If you are coming from Mexicali you can take the Mexico hwy 5 through San Felipe, San Luis Gonzaga and Coco’s Corner. Mexico 5 runs into Mexico 1 at Laguna Chapala. From there you can continue on the Mexico 1 south to San Ignacio.
From San Ignacio it is about one hour west on a very nice road. 40 miles are paved and 15 are still washboard dirt road.You do not need a 4×4 to get to the lagoon like you did 20 years ago. Expect your trip from the border to take 2 days.
If you prefer to leave your car parked in San Ignacio and travel the remaining 50 miles in one of out comfortable shuttle vans you can get on one at the San Ignacio main square. The cost is 120.00 Dollars per van. It fits 12 people comfortably and the cost is shared equally among all passengers.
I always drive down from Tijuana and stop in El Rosario for the night. If you are coming from Mexicali you can stop at Coco’s Corner. You will have to spend the night in your car or in a tent here but it is safe.
In Loreto you can rent a car and drive north along Mexico hwy 1 which in this area is beautiful as it hugs the coastline for a while. The drive from Loreto to Laguna San Ignacio is approximately 5 hours.
4. When is the best time to come down and see the whales?
The first whales enter the lagoon in the last days of December. These are more often than not pregnant females who are focused on giving birth and therefore tend to avoid close contact with people. Throughout the first half of January and into the first half of February the number of whales grows. Among them are pregnant females, newly born babies, full grown males, full grown females and maybe a handful of lone adolescent whales of both sexes. Early February is when the number of whales is at it’s peak. If you want to see not only small babies but also witness the gray whale mating behavior come during this time.
By mid February most pregnant whales have given birth. Some males and females who came to the lagoons to mate are beginning to leave.
Little by little the number of whales begins to decrease inside the lagoon until by mid March most of the remaining whales are Mothers and babies which by now are double the length they were born and several times the weight. This is when the Mother whales are more relaxed about letting their babies get close to the boats.
Friendly encounters with gray whales can happen any time from late December to mid May. Every whale is different and each has it’s personality and temperament. They are intelligent animals and you will realize that when you look into the eyes of one from mere feet away.
Even though friendly encounters may happen any time it is not the norm. A friendly encounter is not something that should be expected as a guarantee. It is something very special that does not happen every time you go out. Some people have been coming for years and have only touched a whale once or twice. Others have touched them every time. Please do not be disappointed if you do not hug or kiss a whale during your visit.
5. Do I have to make reservations?
It is a good idea to make reservations ahead of time especially during February and March which is the high season in Laguna san Ignacio. Lodging during these months tends to sell out.
If you want to see the whales but are not interested in staying overnight you can still show up without reservations but you run the risk of there not being an open spot for your on a boat, especially if you are traveling with a group.
6. What kind of food do you serve at the camp?
Our food is based on very fresh sea food. All fish and the scallops are taken from the waters of Laguna San Ignacio by local fishermen.
The home style cooking is done by Yaki, Antonio’s wife who is famous for her authentic regional dishes, and when I say regional I mean it is the same thing you would be served if you were a guest in her home any time of year. Well, maybe not the scallops (callos) because there are strict seasons for them.
Curvina fillets, breaded or unbreaded and Callos a la ranchera (ranch style scallops) are the staple. If you do not like sea food you can choose a plate of quesadillas with beans, very popular with the kids.
If you are allergic to gluten we can work around that too.