Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Discover the extraordinary world of whale watching on your Puerto Vallarta vacation! Each year from December to March, Banderas Bay and the waters off the coast of Vallarta-Nayarit offer some of the most spectacular whale watching opportunities in the world.
Every year from late October until early April, Puerto Vallarta residents and visitors have the privilege of witnessing the splendor and grace of humpback whales, which travel great distances in search of the calm and warmth of the waters of Banderas Bay, where they will procreate and raise their young.
Though this year the whales began arriving in early November, the official whale watching season for the 2022-2023 season doesn’t begin until December 8. This allows the whales time to acclimatize to the area before the whale watching boats begin their tours.
Every year the Environment and Wildlife Secretariat (SEMARNAT) grants permits to vessels that are authorized to offer whale watching tours. On these boats, crew members have been trained to offer participants the best possible experience without affecting the whales in their natural habitat.
Each authorized vessel is required to have a copy of their permit onboard and to fly the whale watching flag, which has a number and says ‘JAL y Nayarit’ on it, so when you are offered a Puerto Vallarta whale watching trip, make sure the boat has the proper accreditations.
Tours leave daily from Puerto Vallarta’s Maritime Terminal, beginning at 8 am. One can choose from special boats designed specifically for whale observation, a variety of smaller boats, or the larger tour boats that also provide food and beverages.
These tours will run until March 23, 2023, when whale watching season in the Banderas Bay region will officially come to an end.
A typical whale watching expedition will take between 2-4 hours. Once a whale has been spotted in the distance, the boat will race towards it, stopping at the required distance to allow cameras to roll. The Humpback Whale is a protected species so there is no touching or feeding allowed, but quite often the whales will put on a show for the boat’s passengers, seeming to enjoy their clicking cameras and the “oohs” and “ahhs.”
The onlookers cry with joy and astonishment when they see a whale breaching (launching itself out of the water and lands on its side sending a massive spray of water into the air) or the playful splashing of the mothers and their young, making the experience unforgettable. When the giant mammals disappear under the water, the photo comparing and chatter resumes until the next whale appears in the distance and the thrills begin again.
Hopefully you’ll get to see all of this typical behavior on a whale watching tour in Banderas Bay – but be warned – seeing a whale is not always guaranteed, and if you do see one they might not be in the mood to perform.
Note: Please make sure to verify that the boat you take is authorized to perform whale watching activities. This will ensure that you, your family and friends enjoy a safe whale watching experience while helping to protect these gentle giants that call the Bay of Banderas “home” for a few months every year.