The season for whale sharks in La Paz runs from October through April. Baja Charters and Island Cat Services, have successfully operated the premier whale shark encounter for eight years with a perfect track record of locating them, subject to weather and governmental regulations. It is important to note that we are operating in the open sea and subject to shifting rules by governmental agencies. Once approved into the whale shark feeding zone, it takes from fifteen minutes to an hour, and sometimes longer, to find these wonderful creatures.
Whale Shark Facts
Swimming with whale sharks is a bucket list item for many. Once plentiful in the oceans of the world, the whale sharks are considered an endangered species and receive staunch protection under international and Mexican law. While it is legal to swim with them as they feed, strict rules are enforced.
Whale Shark Season in La Paz is here and we’re off to an exciting start! Between October and May every year these amazing gentle giants return to the Sea of Cortez in the bay of La Paz, in Baja, Mexico, just a 90-minute ride from Cabo San Lucas.
Whale sharks grow to 40 feet and longer. They weight more than 20 tons and normally have a lifespan of more than 100 years. The whale sharks found in Baja are typically considered teenagers, about 20-30 years old, and 25-30 feet long. To put that in perspective, consider these teens are the length of a small school bus with mouths as wide as a car.
The whale shark is migratory. They are known to be deep divers, but every year they feed right along the surface in the Bay of La Paz. Commonly known as the Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortez stretches 700 miles, although the gentle giants are known to only feed near the middle of the spit of land that extends out in front of La Paz, known as the Mogote. Topography shows a drop off in the Mogote changing the depth from 6-10 feet in the shallows to a quick drop of 22-33 feet. The currents caused by this shelf in the ocean floor results in the common ocean phenomenon called plankton blooms, which are large concentrations of phytoplankton, microscopic plants that float in the upper, sunlit layers of the water.
The Whale Shark is indeed a shark, but don’t worry, it doesn’t want to eat you or me. Like a whale, they are filter feeders, straining tiny food like krill or plankton through about ten filtering pads that cover the entrance of their throats. Two methods of feeding exist – the ram filtration, in which the animal forces water into its mouth as it swims, or suction feeding, in which volumes of water are sucked into the mouth. Both methods utilize the filter pads to separate food from water, expelling the latter through the gills, this means dinner time.
Snorkeling with whale sharks is a safe and fun activity, and following the directions of the snorkel leader/dive master, will be one you aren’t likely to forget.
Don’t forget: you present far more danger to the fish than the fish does to you. Lotions or sunscreens can create a life-threatening infection on their slick sensitive skin so it is imperative not to touch them. As they move slowly and docilely nearby, it may be difficult to resist this urge, but it’s important to do our part in keeping their numbers from declining.
Semarnat, the environmental agency of Mexico, and Conanp, the National Park system, restrict the number of swimmers in the water with a single whale shark to six. The time limit in the whale shark feeding zone is 2 hours per each group of six swimmers.
The winds and waves of the Cabo area are rarely an indication of winds and waves in La Paz. The sea around the whale shark feeding zone, is usually swimmable. Much more so than the Cabo area. However, that can change without notice. We are careful to exam wind and wave predictions daily, but wave heights and wind forecasts are frequently wrong. Last year we had to cancel the Whale Shark encounter six times over a seven-month period for weather.
Some guests want extra protection in the colder months, where the air temperature gets down into the mid 70’s F. We have wetsuits and shorties available for free, in all adult sizes for both women and men. We also have private hot water showers and fresh clean towels for when you exit the water.
Typically, guests are picked up directly from the lobby entrance of their hotel or resort, but not always. Depending on a number of factors, guests may be requested to meet ground transport in a central location.
We are generally able to provide pick-ups from most locations around Cabo San Lucas, the Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and on the way to La Paz through Pescadero and Todos Santos.
We do not provide ground transportation for guests from Los Barriles.
Returning guests receive a 10% discount. If you prefer to drive directly to our sailing catamaran, there is plenty of safe parking in Marina Palmira. Click on: Contact Us. Scroll to: Yacht Location.There is a $40 discount per guest, that drives on their own. If you are booking online, use Promo Code 37483. If you are calling or emailing, be sure to tell us if you are a returning guest.
The normal time to drive from the greater Cabo area to La Paz is about two hours, including a stop on the way over in Pescadero for coffee, restroom break, etc. After your Whale Shark encounter, on the return trip from La Paz, we stop at the Hotel California (of the Eagles Mythology), for restroom access, drinks, and brief shopping.
Pick-up time is approximately 7:00 AM. You will receive an email the day prior to your departure, to confirm a more precise pick-up time for the next day. The whale shark feeding zone has been taken over by CONANP, Mexico’s National Park System. Changes in guest pick-up times, and dock departure times, are subject to change based on directives from CONANP.
Captain, engineer, hostess, and chef
Chef prepared meals
Sodas and beer
Full array of safety equipment
Two paddle boards
Snorkel gear in various sizes
Portable seats, layout cushions, outdoor pillows and beach awnings.
Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating and lay-out areas
Inside air conditioning
Sleeps 4 in 2 cabins
2 Queen Cabins
Additional sleeping arrangements available
2 complete bathrooms
Space for up to 30 day-time guests
Swim steps and stainless ladder for easy access to water
Ice and purified water
Adolfo is a Master Captain and yacht mechanic. He was captain of the 96`Pacifica cruising yacht for 13 years. He operates all types of vessels including Sports Fishers. Bi-lingual, he has extensive experience in the yachting industry.
Mariana is a graduate Marine Biologist and Padi Master Scuba Dive Trainer. (PADI MSDT # 312632) Mariana is Baja Charter's primary hostess, teacher, and snorkel instructor.
Jesus is a licensed, certified yacht captain. He has worked as a large yacht engineer for fourteen years. Jesus is in charge of yacht maintenance for Baja Charters. He has a friendly disposition, and is a highly competent seaman.
Maritza is a marine biologist and whale shark expert. For six years she was in charge of whale shark research and conservation in La Paz for an NGO. She has her Mexican Seabook, is a Padi diver, and expert snorkel leader.
Sammy is a licensed, certified seaman. He is also trained in Search & Rescue. Sammy is fluent in English, Spanish and German. He is a former lifeguard and a certified Whale Shark guide and has five years experience working on private yachts.
October though April
Baja Cat 60' x 30' Catamaran
Ground transportation, chef, meals, bottled water, sodas, beer, open bar, marine biologist, snorkel equipment, separate snorkel boat and certified helmsperson.
Numerous lay-out areas. Expansive central cabin. Galley and dining table. Two sleeping cabins. Two large bathroms with showers.
Four crew members minimum, plus additions as guest count requires.
Leave Los Cabos (Bottled Water on Board)
Stop in Pescadero (Coffee-Bathroom Break)
Arrive at Marina Palmira
Return to Dock
Hotel California in Todos Santos (Bathroom Break)
Arrive in Los Cabos
is a non-profit, conservation and educational program focused on the restoration of reefs and mangroves in the Sea of Cortez. This is a volunteer organization with NO PAID personal. Each month, RNAM coordinates, directs, and participates in cleaning beaches, reefs, sea lion colonies, and mangroves. Volunteer marine biologists, divers, surfers, kayakers, paddle board enthusiasts and ocean lovers of every type, participate in these projects. Baja Cat is a RNAM sponsoring partner, providing funding, resources and personal, in support of these worthy projects.
In 1995, an underwater national park was formed by the Mexican government at the request of the fishing families of the tiny village of Cabo Pulmo. Since then, no fishing or anchoring has been allowed. The reef sprung back to life in an amazing way. Fish returned, spawned, and grew to maturity in huge numbers, along with turtles, dolphins, sea lions, and sharks. Coral and sea life have become incredibly abundant. In addition to the fee Baja Charters pays to the National Park for every guest who visits with us, we also make a donation to the Cabo Pulmo Welcome Center for reef preservation for each of our customers.
Baja Charters is a contributing partner to the Leave No Trace association, and actively promotes its outdoor ethics programs.
Environmental education. In addition to “hands-on” clean up, RNAM, provides marine science educational instruction in schools throughout Baja Sur. Recently, over 1,000 students were taught how to preserve habitat and reduce pollution in a single month. Baja Charters provides resources and direct experiential interaction for teachers and professors supporting environmental instruction and hosts an annual all day private charter for the top-performing 25 educators in this area.
Project AWARE is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers. We connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation to create lasting change. Baja Charters has adopted a snorkel and dive site for continual clean-up and preservation.
Los Cabos Humane Society rescues and finds homes for dogs and cats. Don't buy, adopt!
Charter our most popular yacht! And it's popular for a reason. Boasting a ton of space to hang out, both indoors and outdoors, Baja Cat, let's you breathe! Come play, explore, or just sit back and take it all in!