The Best Ways to Experience Whale-Watching Season on the West Coast
PHOTO: A humpback whale. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Whale migration is in full swing on the West Coast — a mass cetacean movement that takes place along thousands of miles of Pacific coastline in the cool-weather months. That means whale-watching tours are popping up as far south as Los Cabos, Mexico all the way up to British Columbia, Canada.
Of the 11 whale species found worldwide, eight venture to the waters surrounding Los Cabos each year, including minke, bryde, fin, sei, humpback, gray and blue. The whales make their way south at an average speed of four miles per hour and complete the migration by mid-December, staying until late March when they repeat their journey. This six-month, 12,000-mile round-trip sojourn is the longest made by any animal in the world.
Several hotels offer whale-watching tours:
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort, has a Whale Safari Experience. Guests are first transported by private jet to Loreto and then enjoy a helicopter ride to San Ignacio, taking in the views of Sierra de la Giganta. After a day of whale-watching, guests finish their excursion with a romantic picnic set up on Honeymoon Cove prior to jetting back to Las Ventanas.
The next morning, guests continue the journey in search of the playful humpback whales. Prices (inclusive of taxes and service charge) start at $21,500 for a maximum of four guests. The package's booking window extends from December to Feb. 29, 2016 with travel dates from Feb. 1-29, 2016.
Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, has a special Whale's Journey package that includes three-night/four-day accommodations in an oceanview garden casita, private round-trip airport transfers, marina transfers and a two-hour Zodiac whale-watching excursion. Active guests will be in for a treat with daily complimentary yoga and fitness classes. The package's booking window and travel dates extend from Jan. 3 to March 31, 2016.
Hotel El Ganzo offers the Ganzo Getaway Whale Watching Package, a two-, three- or four-night stay in a deluxe room complete with arrangements for an educational encounter with whales. The package's booking window extends from December through April 15, 2016.
The Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort offers a whale-watching package with rates starting at $377 per night for a minimum of three nights, which can be retrieved with the booking code P8. The rate includes a daily breakfast buffet per paying adult and a whale watching tour per paying adult. The two-and-a-half-hour tour is provided by Cabo Adventures, a leading tour and activities operator. The deal's booking window is open from Dec. 7, through March 15, 2016 with travel dates from Dec. 7, through March 31, 2016.
In San Diego, whale-watching season will begin on Dec. 13. Hornblower Cruises & Events will once again offer San Diego visitors and residents an up-close and personal experience with some of the most magnificent creatures on earth. To make Hornblower’s cruise truly educational, trained volunteer naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum provide interaction with guests, facts and maps, samples of krill and baleen onboard, ongoing commentary for spotting spouts, flukes and massive whale tails as well as information about whale behaviors.
Hornblower also makes good on its promise to see the marquee animal. If a whale is not sighted during a cruise, passengers will receive a pass good for another whale-watching cruise. Hornblower guarantees that every passenger will experience the exhilaration of witnessing a whale break the surface of the water for the first time.
British Columbia celebrates the arrival of the whales with a festival. While stormy surf draws adventurers to the West Coast, cool-weather months also prove the perfect time for a massive migration. Come March, the coastal communities of Tofino and Ucluelet celebrate majestic gray whales during the aptly named Pacific Rim Whale Festival, a 16-day showcase of insightful events and cultural activities. On the roster: inspirational talks and interpretive walks, children's activities, First Nations workshops and more. As a bonus, the event, which runs March 12-27, 2016, marks the 30th anniversary of the larger-than-life festival. pacificrimwhalefestival.com
More by Janeen Christoff
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