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A leviathan adventure of a lifetime! Join us on a voyage around Baja California to witness grey whales in their calving lagoons, amongst the other ocean giants - blue, fin and humpback whales.

Baja California is a rugged desert peninsula of more than 1,250 kilometres in length, often known as the “Mexican Galapagos”. Supporting an incredible diversity of sea life the area is arguably the best place in the world for the number and diversity of whales and dolphins. It is the ultimate place to see grey whales at close quarters in their breeding lagoons, playful humpback whales, which we hope to see breach completely out of the water, and blue whales, the largest animals on Earth.

Read travel writer Sarah Marshall's report of her trip on board the Searcher

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to San Diego and overnight

  2. Day 2: Free morning; afternoon board the Searcher at Fisherman’s Landing, 11-nights on board

    The Searcher is a 29 metre boat, perfect for whale watching, with a friendly crew of seven, and Captain Art Taylor – a model of a responsible whale watch owner – has been voyaging in Baja for over 30 years. Our own tour leader will be with you throughout the tour and there will also be the ship’s naturalist who will help identify the wildlife and offer an insight into this fascinating area with slide shows, videos and lectures. And finally at the end of each day what better way to spend it on deck, drink in hand, watching some of the most amazing sunsets to be seen anywhere in the world.

    The boat has 14 air-conditioned cabins each with fresh-water sink, AC, US-style electrical outlets, reading lights and a mirror. Each cabin has sleeping bunks and gear storage. Cabins are small yet adequate. There are four bathrooms on the main deck, two with showers and two located near the observation deck in the stern. There are wildlife observation decks on the stern and bow with chairs and on the upper deck in front of the wheelhouse.  There are three aluminum skiffs aboard for shore excursions and wildlife viewing. 

  3. Day 3: Whale and birdwatching around Islas Todos Santos

  4. Day 4: Islas San Benito

    We will visit Islas San Benito with its northern elephant seals and rare Guadalupe fur seals. We may see our first grey whales journeying north to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas from the warmer winter waters around Baja’s Pacific coastline.

  5. Days 5-6 : San Ignacio Lagoon

    Our boat has one of the few permits to anchor in the vast, almost land-locked, San Ignacio Lagoon. Hundreds of whales can be here and we will make excursions on the lagoon in skiffs, or pangas, run by local fishermen as we wait for the whales to approach us. We should encounter good numbers of these superb animals, some with young at this time of year. With luck some may come so close they will rub up against the side of the skiffs. A truly memorable and moving experience! At night the desert skies are filled with stars, we may hear coyotes howl, and when we leave we may see blue and humpback whales plus Pacific white-sided dolphins offshore, feeding in the nutrient rich waters.

  6. Day 7: Offshore Bahía Magdalena

    There is a great variety of seabirds to delight the birdwatcher on this trip and we hope to see royal, caspian, elegant, Forster’s and common terns; shearwaters skimming across the waves such as short-tailed, sooty and black-vented; black, least and Leach’s storm-petrels delicately picking up morsels from the surface. We will look out for those small members of the auk family – Craveri’s and Xantus’ murrelets and Cassin’s auklet. Yellow-footed and Heermann’s gulls often fly alongside the boat and we will also be watching out for ring-billed, western, Bonaparte’s, and California gulls. Red-billed tropicbird, brown pelican, brown booby, nesting osprey and a host of waders, cormorants, herons, egrets and ducks add to this avian spectacle. 

  7. Day 8: Offshore Cabo San Lucas

    Travelling south past Magdalena Bay our cruise takes us round the tip of Baja at Cabo San Lucas where magnificent frigatebirds fill the skies and Californian sealions and Brandt’s cormorants perch on the rocks below. There may be a peregrine perched on one of the outcrops, but it is offshore where we hope to encounter spectacular humpback whales. They come here to sing and mate and, if we are lucky, we may have some unforgettable encounters.

    Sailing north into the more secluded and tropical waters of the Sea of Cortez we will look out for the world’s largest animal – the magnificent blue whale, which can grow to 30 metres in length – longer than our boat! This is a favourite nursery ground for blue whale mothers and hopefully we may spot some with calves. This is one of the world’s whale watching hotspots and as we sail these waters we will look out for fin, sperm, dwarf sperm, minke, Bryde’s and short-finned pilot whales all of which occur in this area and with luck some of these magnificent animals may surface very close to the boat. bottlenose, short-beaked and long-beaked common dolphins are common and often appear in pods of hundreds, some frequently riding the bow waves. Orcas are also often seen. 

  8. Day 9: Isla San José

    Each day we will typically visit a remote peninsula landing spot or one of the beautiful islands such as Isla San Jose with its red sandstone cliffs, Isla Santa Catalina with its towering cardon cactus and endemic rattleless rattlesnake, or Islas Los Islotes and its sealions. Birds such as turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, crested caracara and American kestrel inhabit dry, cactus-rich areas. Some of the smaller desert specialists we are likely to find as we go ashore include rock wren, blue-grey and California gnatcatchers, gila woodpecker, verdin, Costa’s hummingbird, phainopepla and northern cardinal. We might also come across the endemic Xantus’ hummingbird and grey thrasher.

  9. Day 10: Isla Santa Catalina

    Each day there will be something new to see and different locations to explore. For those who like to swim and snorkel there is the possibility of swimming with playful Californian sealions and hundreds of colourful fish to be seen. From the boat we will hopefully see hammerhead sharks, leaping mobula rays, flying fish and turtles such as the docile loggerhead turtle. Fiddler crabs and brightly coloured Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttle along the tide-lines and shells litter the deserted sandy beaches. Whether it is for the pods of dolphins escorting the boat, whales with calves, feeding or breaching, flocks of seabirds, shoals of colourful fish or snorkelling with sea lions, this cruise is a must for those of you who love to experience a rich diversity of wildlife at its best. 

  10. Day 11: Bahia Agua Verde

  11. Day 12: Isla San Jose / Islas Los Islotes

  12. Day 13: Arrive in Los Cabos for return journey

    We arrive in Los Cabos in the early morning, disembark and transfer to the airport for connections back to the UK.

  13. Day 14: Arrive London

You should note: Mostly walks on the islands that we visit are easy

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 days from £5,395 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 days from £4,445 pp
  • Group size: 24
  • Departures:
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 1 night hotel in San Diego
    • 11 nights shared cabin on Searcher vessel
    • Meals on board Searcher vessel
    • Transfers (except on arrival in San Diego)
    • Ground and boat transportation
    • Services of the leader, naturalist guides and boat crew
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip

Expert leaders

Rob Nawojchik

Photo of Rob Nawojchik

A marine biologist, Rob has been working aboard the Searcher vessel in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula as a naturalist guide for 10 years.

He guides up to four trips each year and therefore knows Baja’s wildlife, islands and lagoons from first-hand experience. Most passengers love his vast knowledge about marine mammals seen on our tours, his skills at identification, and his humorous way of communicating! He is an enthusiastic snorkel guide and teacher, and loves exploring Baja’s underwater world.

Rob's experience includes developing and teaching college-level marine mammal courses, managing a marine mammal stranding program, observing marine mammals on board large ships with organisations such as TerraMar Environmental Research, Geo-Marine, and Marine Acoustics, and conducting field research.

Rob loves to travel and explore new areas of wildlife, nature and trails, and is keen on history, SCUBA and photography. He especially enjoys the national parks of the USA, plus many destinations throughout Europe and South America. 

Patti Schick

Photo of Patti Schick

A marine biologist and conservationist, Patti has years of experience in field biology, including a four year study of harbour seals in San Francisco Bay.

Patti has worked aboard the Searcher as a naturalist guide since 2004, helping guests understand Baja’s flora and fauna through her experience and knowledge.  She is an accomplished tour guide.

Featured locations:

Sea of Cortez

The Sea of Cortez (also known as the The Gulf of California) is a UNESCO World Heritage site that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is thought to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet with the widest variety of whales and dolphins, and nearly 900 species of fish.

  • Where: West coast
  • Ideal for viewing: blue whale, fin whale, humpback whale, whaleshark, Bryde’s whale
  • Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Whale watching, Dolphin watching

San Ignacio Lagoon

San Ignacio Lagoon is located in the Mexican province of Baja California and is one of the winter sanctuaries of the eastern Pacific grey whale. Here, males and females congregate looking for mates and newborn calves prepare themselves for the long journey north to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic.

  • Where: West coast
  • Ideal for viewing: grey whale, Cape pygmy owl, Harris hawk, leatherback turtle, olive ridley turtle
  • Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Whale watching