With a love for Mexico and whales, we had recently road tripped out from our home in Long Beach, California via the peninsula of Baja, Mexico to a small pacific coast town of Guerrero Negro. Starting in January, thousands of grey whales are known to migrate to the region's lagoons to mate & and birth their youngs; how they're able to accomplish this simultaneously, I don't know. Because we've been tipped that not only are the whales plentiful in these lagoons, with the supervision of their mom, the baby whales are known to approach the visitors allowing themselves to be touched and kissed; it was an experience we couldn't resist. Besides, every chance we get to experience the history, culture, nature, and amazing exchange rates that is Mexico, we more than often would not pass up on.
In this blog, we'll do our best to share all the details of our trip so that you'll have all the information you'll need to feel excited and comfortable enough to make this trip a reality. Further, like with most trips we take, we almost always take the opportunity to instill a bit of nature in our hemp products with an amateurish photo shoot. On this particular trip, the overcasting beautiful desert of Cataviña was our backdrop.
Whale-Watching Destinations: Beginning their 14,000 mile round trip migration in October and arriving in the Baja region by January, the grey whales can be watched ( & touched if you're lucky!) in 3 Baja bodies of water: 1.) the Ojo de Liebre (formerly Scammon’s Lagoon) in Guerrero Negro, 2.) Laguna San Ignacio, and 3.) Bahía Magdalena. We had chosen to go with Guerrero Negro because it is the Northernmost region of the 3 which would be closest to us coming from the North. The whale watching season is known to end some time in April so if you want to increase your chances of seeing them, I'd stick with either Feb or March. For those who care to plan to the T, I would check the region's forecast since the tour companies tend to cancel the trips on days that rain or have heavy rain. The first day we were there, many companies had to cancel the trips due to the wind.
Whale Tour Companies: Mario's Tour, Laguna Tours, Mallarimo, Cocoalles
Transportation & Lodging: There are several ways you can reach the whale watching destinations mentioned above. Firstly, you can go by road like we had in which we drove and parked our car on the US side of the Mexican border and after crossing over, we Ubered to the nearest Hertz location in which a reservation had awaited us. 2ndly, you can choose to go by Bus with a tour group either from TJ or even from San Diego. 3rdly, you can also fly into the nearest international airport in Loretto and either drive a rental or take a bus tour to one of the 3 whale watching locations. The options are plentiful and it'll boil down to your specific traveling preferences.
As for lodging, having driven from the Los Angeles region with a desire to drive no more than 6 hours per day, we had decided to lodge in the small town of San Quintin at a hotel/motel by the name of Hotel Jardines ($35 usd/day). The garden and orange grove on the premise was a lovely treat. Their rooms were a bit on the sterile side but it's clean with lovely hot water and pressure. On the 2nd day, we drove another 5-6 hours to reach Guerrero Negro to check into our AirBnB at the Northwest tip of the city nearest the water. You can easily search online for other lodging options but if you're interested in our specific lodge, feel free to message us.
The Rental Deets: Instead of driving our car into Mexico like we normally do, this time, we decided to go with the aforementioned first option and park our car at the border on the San Diego side (the very last freeway exit before crossing the border into Mexico). We then Ubered to the nearest Hertz branch which took no more than 10 minutes. Then we proceeded to walk walk our 2 small overhead size rollies, a backpack, and a duffel a good 15 minutes over the border. The cost for the 5-day midsize SUV rental ($154 includes the required Mexican Liability Insurance) + parking ($135) + $18 (AMEX damage waiver) totaled $308usd. The rental we were issued was a standard size SUV (Dodge Journey) and despite not being what we had asked for, it was pretty comfortable. Note: Expect to be charged an additional $5-10 per additional driver. Also, they tried very hard to scare us into taking on the additional Damage Waiver insurance (to protect the rented vehicle), I had opted out because I had purchased the same insurance from my American Express card ($18 TOTAL for up to 42 days of rental. The rental companies normally charge a per day rate of $8-15.
The reasoning behind this traveling option was because 1.) it's a new experience to us and 2.) we can walk back across the border instead of waiting up to 5 hours at the border. With our Sentri Pass being stripped from us for some unknown reason, waiting at the border was something we'd like to avoid whenever possible.
Food & Stomach Prepping: There are various options of Mexican food all over Mexico and the Baja region is no different. Most of the options you'll find are a variant of the tacos made with either pork, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp as a protein. Alongside that, you'll also find various options of American food such as burgers and hot dogs. For those that have a stomach on the sensitive side when it comes to food for whatever reason, what really works for us are Activated Charcoal pills. You can click the link to be directed to Amazon to purchase the exact one we'd purchased. There are no guarantees that it'd work for you like it did for us but definitely worth the try. At least read through the thousands of feedback from other believers.
Moneys & Exchange Rates: Credit Cards are accepted at most proper dine-in facilities. Food sold at the sketchy looking stalls obviously will not accept that so other forms of payment like cash (Pesos or USD) would be required. To save on a bit of money, the exchange rates either from your bank or an ATM typically would be about 5-15% better than that offered on the street so be sure to make your exchanges before hand if that's your concern. ATMs are quite prevalent in the main city centers of the Baja Peninsula so worry not if you didn't get enough beforehand. Do keep in mind that 2x ATM fees from the local bank/atm ($4usd) as well as your bank (another $5) can add up so opening a checking account with banks like Charles Schwabb (<--link) would be useful since they'll reimburse you for all ATM fees around the world! I don't believe we get anything for this referral but using this link, you'll get $100 for opening a checking account with them.
Underwear PhotoShoot: Driving the Baja Mexico Peninsula is an incredible visual experience due to the varietal of landscape you'll encounter ranging from the Big Sur-like ocean side cliffs to the cacti-filled desert that is reminiscent of Tucson, Arizona, with the latter being our choice to stop for some silly photography that included some of our hemp underwear pieces! Seeing the interplay of cacti varietals there truly reminds us of brilliance of nature and its ability to harmonize.