MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Wild whales up close!

I have been on four whale watch excursions. On the first trip (Dana Point, California), we didn’t see any whales, although we did enjoy watching a few dolphins who played in the boat’s wake. On the second trip (Long Beach, California), we saw lots of whales, the closest one about 100 feet from our boat, and a huge pod of dolphins. On the third trip (also out of Long Beach) we saw a few whales and dolphins, but not nearly as many as on trip number two. Although all of these trips were fun, I longed to get closer to the whales. A “Whale Watching By Zodiac” tour sounded like the answer, so I booked this Cabo San Lucas shore excursion during a late February Mexican Riviera cruise on the Golden Princess.

On the day of our whale watch, my ten year old brother and I boarded a small, inflatable boat with about twelve other people and a guide. We set off from the tender dock toward Cabo San Lucas Bay. Our boat passed by the famous Los Arcos rock formations where we checked out the pelicans and sea lions perched there, then we zoomed out into the Pacific Ocean. My brother enjoyed the wild ride. I agreed that the fast, bouncy ride was exciting, but I was on a mission.

We scanned the water for signs of whales. Nothing. The captain radioed his colleagues. They had seen some whales earlier that day, but there were no signs of whales now. We traveled further and further out until we were so far from land that I felt like we were lost on our little zodiac in the middle of the ocean. Still, we saw no whales. We had been out for more than an hour and a half of our two and a half hour trip when the captain turned the zodiac back toward the marina.

And then, in the distance, a whale breached! 

The captain changed direction and zoomed closer. Then, he stopped the boat. All was quiet. "Whales can stay submerged for a while," he told us.

Suddenly, the whale hurled out of the water about twenty feet from our zodiac and then splashed back down. The captain pointed out the whale’s footprint, an area of calm water where the whale had submerged. The zodiac buzzed with awestruck murmurs. A whale had breached right next to the boat! And then, it happened again… and again… and again!

The captain entertained us by predicting, usually correctly, where the whale would leap out of the water next. I aimed my camera where he pointed and snapped pictures. My fellow passengers and I laughed and talked excitedly. The whale seemed to be putting on a show for us. We felt honored to be in the audience.

After breaching over and over for more than fifteen minutes, the whale abruptly ended the performance. A few minutes later, the whale reappeared, and swam in a circle close to our boat, gently slapping the water with a pectoral fin. It looked like the whale was waving goodbye. Then the whale dove underwater.

Over fifteen minutes later, our captain slowly began to motor the zodiac back to the dock. Without warning, the whale reappeared, swimming right alongside our zodiac. We could see the whale just under the surface of the water. Occasionally, it would poke the top of its head or a fin out from the water.

After a few minutes of delightedly watching our whale, we lost sight of it, this time for good. As we traveled back to the dock, we all agreed that it had been an amazing whale watch... thanks to one wonderful whale!

I did this in 2008 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Jen (California, USA)