One of my favorite things about this part of Mexico just happens to be the ease with which you can hop in a boat and within 30 minutes or so be spotting whales. The unofficial whale watching season in the Cabo San Lucas area runs somewhere between December and April every year and truly ranks as a must see for families. There are a number of ways to locate them from big booze cruise boats to small private charters. This trip our family chose to find a tour operator who could offer us something in between. That's when we discovered Cabo Trek, based out of the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Whale watching with kids required we go with a tour operator that had a few specifics: child-sized life jackets, shade options, & a toilet. Cabo Trek seemed to tick all those boxes plus they had some positive reviews online. So, we partnered up (via sponsorship) and got ready to take the kids on their very first whale watching adventure.
- Small group means 12 people or less.
- Kids under 6 are free.
- The boat is on the smaller side with a capacity at 16, so make sure you are comfortable with the ratio of small vessel to large whale.
- This part of Baja Sur in Mexico has the largest Humpback Whale population in the Pacific Ocean.
- Cabo Trek states their commitment to safe whale watching practices clearly on their website. We wanted to make sure the tour company we chose was mindful to maintain a safe distance so as not to interfere with the whales natural wildlife behaviors per the recommended guidelines set up by various science and conservation groups.
- Make sure to take motion sickness precautions especially for the kids as the ocean can be a bit rough at times.
Leaving the Cabo San Lucas Marina
After signing some documents, making a quick potty stop, you are divided in to two groups, and are then led down to the Marina to put on your life preservers and board your boat.
Note that Cabo Trek sends out two boats at the same time, or at least they did when we visited. You will always have another boat along for the ride now matter where you go. The good news? This never impacted our view or photos of the whales, and in my opinion, probably won't even factor in to your experience at all.
As we were leaving the Cabo San Lucas Marina, we got to know the staff a bit more. Anna would serve as our English and Spanish speaking tour guide. She said she was a marine biologist and had studied whales in Spain. She introduced two other personnel on board, a student studying sustainable tourism from Germany who would be acting as our photographer and our boat captain. In keeping with the attempt to minimally impact the environment, Ana explained that water would be available in clean reusable cups instead of bottled water. You can read more about the Cabo Trek commitment to conservation here.
We loved that you get to float by of one of the most famous spots of Cabo along the way. Plus, you get the opportunity to see some other wildlife up close too.
Both Cabo Trek boats are equipped with a hydrophone system that can be used to listen to the whales communicating below the surface. Unfortunately for us, when we used our hydrophone our whales didn't feel like "singing" just then. But, cool feature nonetheless.
Kid Friendly Tour Guide
Bringing children under 10 years of age on a two and a half hour boat ride to sit still, be quiet, and watch for wildlife that may or may not ever appear is always a gamble. Especially, if the staff isn't receptive to having to tailor their informational spiel to kids. We loved, however, that our tour guide made a point to rattle off information about whales that appealed to the adult crowd but also made a specific effort to engage our young boys. Children always ask so many questions at the elementary age, and Anna handled the interrupting questions and random wild ideas with ease and grace. We had the only children on the tour and her comfort level made it so much more relaxing for us as parents. Kid Allergy loved being asked to help spot whales using his much needed "young eyes." Great job from tour guide Anna as it keep him challenged and interested for the length of the tour.
Obviously, the stars of the show are the whales. And, Cabo Trek was able to deliver. We saw whales non-stop for a majority of our tour and the excitement never ever seemed to lessen every time we spotted one. It was a treasure to be able to share the beauty of these majestic creatures with my children and I am glad that we were able to do it in a small group environment with Cabo Trek.
Some Lessons Learned
Hidden Office. Finding the office & meetup point is a bit of a wild goose chase, even for a fluent Spanish speaker like myself. It is located neither in the Hotel Tesoro nor at the marina dock M-O like the confirmation email leads you to believe. Instead, look for a corner office space A-20 between those two landmarks and behind a waterside restaurant. The key is to find a small alleyway leading from the water to the hotel. And, be on the lookout for the words 'Calypso' and 'Spearfishing.' Those signs threw me off even though it did display the world 'Whale Watching' on the inside of the office space.
Don't Go Drowsy. Our 5 year old had some anxiety about going out on the open ocean after our Deep Sea Fishing debacle in Aruba. He didn't sleep well the night before, and in an effort to ward off any potential sea sickness, each person in our family took the maximum prescribed dosage according to age and weight. But sometimes...the ocean can be very relaxing. The up and down motion of the ocean waves can send you right off to sleep. That is what happened to our littlest family member. Luckily, he got the chance to spot two whales breaching before drifting off to sleep for the remainder of the tour. And, our son wasn't the only one on the boat to respond by wanting to sleep. Sure enough, half way through the tour an adult fell asleep as well. If you are sleepy for any reason, you might just find yourself snoozing and missing some of the action. So, our advice is make an effort to get some solid rest beforehand, and start with the minimum (not the maximum) dosage recommended if using sea sickness medication.
Think Green. As much as I love a discount, I encourage you to decline taking the paper coupon they offer at the end of the tour if you are not really planning on returning and using it. We should all be mindful of our impact as tourists, and I am hoping that Cabo Trek moves to an electronic discount code in the future to help us all create less waste.
Visit During Whale Season. Whale watching with Cabo Trek was our favorite family activity this trip, and I am so glad we made a point to visit the Los Cabos area of Mexico during the whale watching season. It was easy to get to (even if you are staying in San Jose Del Cabo like we were), wasn't too long of a boat trip for elementary school aged kids, the waters were not too rough, and ultimately it delivered an experience that is sure to stay with our kids for a lifetime.
Kid Allergy Travel received complementary tickets to take part in Cabo Trek's Whale Watching Tour. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.