I am reposting all of the posts regarding San Ignacio Lagoon in one post (along with many additional photos and more text).
The highlight of any trip to Baja California is visiting a lagoon with gray whales. In early April of this year two friends and I spent a day in the San Ignacio lagoon with gray whale mothers and calves (the males had left for their northward migration).
Our guide was Jesus Mayoral of Pachico's Ecotours. In 1972, Jesus's father, Pachico Mayoral, was the first fisherman to encounter a friendly gray whale in the lagoon. Shortly thereafter, Pachico started guiding tourists to see the whales.
You can get up close and personal with the gray whales in the lagoon. At times up to eight or more whales approached and surrounded our small boat. Here are four gray whales next to the boat. (The fourth can be seen underwater on the left.)
The whales will approach the small boats and allow you to touch them. The boats actually never approach the whales, it is the whales that approach the boats.
The whales seem to enjoy it. If the boat leaves the whale will often follow the boat. All boats are led by licensed guides who know the rules of the lagoon and teach you about the whales.
More photos of gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon. The guides can recognize individual whales through their size, shape, barnacle patterns, scars, and personalities.
Here, a mother tries to swallow the boat. (just kidding!) She is showing off her baleen, which is used during feeding. (the whale takes in a large quantity of seawater, and then expels it through the baleen, which traps nutrients, which the whale then swallows).
Photographing whales when they leave the water, however, is extremely challenging. One never knows where they will appear and there is but a split second to take the picture. My only photos of a whale breaching are hopelessly out of focus... (the one that got away) Here's a tail:
Pachico Mayoral tells of his first encounter with a friendly gray whale in San Ignacio Lagoon, in 1972. He stands in front of a map of the lagoon. The full story can be read at the Pachico's Ecotours website.
The birding is also excellent at San Ignacio lagoon.
We combined our whale watching excursion with a boat tour of the lagoon bird sanctuary. This trip can only be made at high tide, which unfortunately for us, was at midday, so the lighting conditions and birding were not optimal. It was still enjoyable, and a mangrove warbler was a life-bird for me. It flew away, though, before I got a decent photograph...
If you have ever thought of seeing the gray whales in Baja, do not hesitate. Pachico's Ecotours at San Igancio Lagoon is a great place to see them. You will remember your experience for a lifetime.