Every year whales make migrations from all over the world, swimming thousands of miles for food and breeding. There are certain months perfect for viewing these animals during their natural migration patterns off the coastal waters of Central America. Charter a boat or take a tour with an educated guide to go whale watching and see the two most common species: gray whales and humpback whales.
Gray whales have the longest migration pattern of any mammal. They travel from the cold waters of Alaska where they feed to the warm waters of California, every year. This journey is 10,000-12,000 miles roundtrip, and they can travel up to 100 miles a day. The pregnant gray whales lead the pack, finding lagoons safe from predatory Orcas to birth their babies.
Humpback whales may be best known for the distinctive sounds or “songs” they make that can be 10-20 minutes long and heard from up to 20 miles away. These songs are unique to the herd of whales and for the species. Humpback whales also are distinctly acrobatic in that they are always breaching the water with their long flippers that can be up to ⅓ the length of their body. Their migration pattern starts from the Northern or Southern poles and travels all the way to the Pacific off the coast of Central America and other patterns along Hawaii.
Types of Whales Seen: Gray whales are the most popular but you can also see minke, bryde, fin, sei, humpback and blue whales
Information about it: Mexico is a whale watching haven for grey whales. Baja California in Mexico sees the annual migration of hundreds of whales from the Alaskan shore. From a boat on the Pacific Ocean and in lagoons you can view these magnificent mammals and their newborn babies in the hundreds. Cabo San Lucas is an excellent viewing spot as the whales are known for coming extremely close to shore!
Information about it: Costa Rica is the number one place to go whale watching in Central America and the fastest growing whale watching industry in Latin America. The whale watching season is so long due to humpback whales traveling from both the north and south poles converging in Costa Rica, thereby extending the season. We recommend viewing the whales in Marino Ballena National Park, and then snorkeling in the water where you can hear their distinct songs. There is no better way to watch these unique animals.
Where: Las Perlas Archipelago, Bocas Del Toro, Isla Coiba, Isla Toboga, Chitre
Season: July-October, December-February
Type of Whales Seen: Humpback Whales
Information About it:
Similar to Costa Rica, Panama is one of the few they are one of the few places that can claim whales from both poles, which makes the season longer. In September, however, there is almost a 100% guarantee of spotting at least one whale. The baby humpbacks are born in August and September and then migrate north or south for food once they are strong enough. Most tour boats leave from Panama City to small islands such as Toboga or the Pearl Islands. We recommend staying there to explore the hub of Panama's culture and then taking a day tour on the water whale watching.
Type of Whales Seen: Humpback but sometimes blue whales
Information about It: Humpback whales migrate to Nicaragua every year and one of the best viewing places is San Juan Del Sur off the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Humpback whales are known for tail lobbing, which is when the whale raises its flippers out of the water and slaps them back down on the surface, giving spectators a wonderful show. Take a boat along the coast of San Juan del Sur to view whales with their newly born babies in small coves and bays.
Information about it: Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Caribbean to give birth to babies and breed. Over 1500 whales migrate to the Dominican Republic every year, so you are bound to see at least a few! In the waters off the small island Dominica you can see sperm whales, which are an endangered species. These large toothed whales are visible almost all year round as some whales are permanent residents of those waters and are only quick boat ride off shore.
Whale watching can become the highlight of any trip South to watch these beautiful animals make such a natural and fascinating migration. You can even check out the whales as they go up along the Northern Coast of California or down the Pacific towards South America. A day spent out on the sea observing these magnificent creatures is not one to be missed!