Every year between from November to April, Banderas Bay becomes the winter home and birthing grounds 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. This protected species has no teeth and eats 4,400 to 5,500 pounds of krill, plankton and small fish daily.

The Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching Forum is a privately funded ecological group that promotes education and responsible whale watching activities in Banderas Bay. It was founded by Keith May, who returned from his first whale watching tour five years ago with tears in his eyes. Seeing firsthand how many of the tour boats were harassing the magnificent humpback whales, he decided to take a stand and make a difference.

His extensive website is a plethora of fabulous information, including facts on humpbacks, Mexican whale watching regulations and a method to report those who do not adhere to established guidelines. It also includes a list of approved whale watching vessels, including those of Vallarta Adventures and Ecotours de México. The official whale watching tour season runs from December to March each winter, giving expectant mothers time to rest after their long journey south and allowing any newborns time to build their strength in our sheltered waters before heading to their summer swimming grounds.       

It’s easy to be a responsible whale watcher: 1) educate yourself, 2) decide on the tour features you desire, 3) talk to others who have recently been on whale watching excursions and 4) look for an operator employing well-trained pilots and trained guides knowledgeable in whale behavior. This will help facilitate a safe and unforgettable experience for both you and the humpbacks.