Whale Watching on Banderas Bay
Every year, from November to April, Banderas Bay becomes the winter home and birthing ground for numerous humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Humpbacks are known for their acrobatic leaps and their unique “song,” which includes sounds such as grunts and squeaks. Watching a 40-ton creature leap almost completely out of the water is an experience that cannot be forgotten. This protected species has no teeth and eats 4,400 to 5,500 pounds of krill, plankton and small fish daily.
While the giant mammals can be easily sighted in large numbers from many beaches around the bay, even without binoculars, several tour providers offer guided boat tours that bring you closer to the action. A whale watching tour in Banderas Bay offers a unique opportunity, suitable for the entire family, to learn about these amazing sea creatures. It also allows visitors the opportunity to appreciate the many beautiful views of the bay, as seen from the water.
Whale watching is something the whole family can enjoy. The whales can be found throughout the bay, but a sure place to see them is at El Anclote in Punta de Mita on the southern point of the bay, when they pass between the point and the islands. And tour boats are easy to catch along the beach in front of El Anclote.
When to Go
November to April, however the best months are from December to the end of February when you are practically guaranteed to see whales on a tour. By the end of February, some of the whales have started their journey north.
Keep in Mind
In spite of their tremendous size, these magnificent mammals are sensitive to sudden changes in their environment, which is why it’s essential to protect them. In Mexico, laws regulate how whale-watching tours are conducted, since an improper encounter can harm these fascinating creatures.
If you want to go on a whale-watching tour, be sure to hire the services of one of the authorized companies, which carry a flag bearing the stamp of the Mexican wildlife preservation authorities and a certificate issued by SEMARNAT on each of their vessels. You’ll find posters with a list of these authorized companies at most docking points. If you purchase your tour through an agency, ensure that the tour is operated by an authorized company, asking for the list of approved companies if necessary.
Responsible Whale Watching
All whale-watching tours should follow these basic rules:
- Stay at least 100 feet from the whales.
- Never stay with a given group of whales for more than 30 minutes.
- There should never be more than two vessels with a given group of whales.
- Approach the whales only from behind or from the sides; the boat should never cross in front of them.
- The speed of the boat should never be more than that of the whales.
- Never try to touch the whales.
- Try not to make excessive noise in the whales’ presence.
The Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching forum is a privately-funded ecological group and educational resource that promotes responsible whale watching activities in and around Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay.