A Search for Whales Off Mexico's Coast
LOS CABOS, Mexico - In a 15-passenger inflatable Zodiac boat, we're zooming around the aquamarine water off the tip of Baja California. Whale-watching season runs from mid-December to mid-April, when thousands of ballenas (whales) ply the waters day and night. Although they are easily spotted from shore, we were told that if we wanted a glimpse of them up close, our best bet was to board a fast boat with a trained guide to home in on them in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.
Powered by two outboard motors, the Zodiac has the speed and maneuverability to pursue the creatures wherever they surface. Compared with larger boats, small craft enable passengers not only to get closer to marine life, but also to experience the relentless motion and power of the sea.
My husband and I book a 10:30 a.m. reservation with Cabo Expeditions, a company that runs whale-watching excursions out of the modern marina at the port in Cabo San Lucas. The bright, sunny morning is perfect for boating or any outdoor activity. After removing our shoes and placing our belongings in a large storage locker on the boat's deck, we don bright-orange life vests and are ready for the hunt. We sit next to the other boaters, who all have digital cameras.
Looking tanned and seaworthy in a white pique shirt, navy Bermuda shorts, and mirrored sunglasses, our bilingual guide, Augusto, greets us and helps passengers onto the boat one by one. Twelve people are seated along the gunwales; three are on cushioned seats at the stern. A company photographer commandeers the prime seat at the bow.