The Great Outdoors: 26 Amazing Experiences
Natural wonders that make you feel small.

Map icon place
Post display cropped open uri20121205 19189 1vbycv4?1438315472

Close Encounters with Gray Whales

Large arrow left

The ocean churns as a 36-ton mammal swims up to the boat. With your arm plunged into the cool water, you await the touch of a California gray whale. Like a house cat craving a scratch on the head, the whale pushes its rubbery skin, rough with barnacles and battle scars from boats and orcas, against your palm. From January through March, hundreds of gray whales settle in Magdalena Bay, on the southwest coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. From their feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska, they’ve made one of the longest animal migrations—more than 5,000 miles—to mate, give birth, and raise their young here. Visitors who join local fishermen and outfitters in the bay are practically guaranteed to see whales, and the luckiest will encounter “friendlies,” including proud mothers who nudge their wrinkly black calves toward the surface.

Sea Kayak Adventures offers a new trip that combines gray whale sightings in Magdalena Bay with blue and fin whale watching in the Sea of Cortez. From $1,495. (800) 616-1943,

This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.

Large arrow right
read moreread less>
Thumb 99cf7c4441592a1c975f8cb921c5ce2f?1383773087
by Ariel Ramchandani
AFAR Contributor
I've been here
1 has been here
Does this place need a closer look by our editors? Let us know.