Gray Whales in Baja California

Hello mammalwatchers, I need some advice.

We are planning a six-week trip to North America, starting in Baja California and returning home from Vancouver. Some of the target species are Gray Whale (most important), Mountain Beaver, Vancouver Island Marmot and possibly Olympic Marmot. In between we had planned a few days in California, Whooper Cranes in Texas and the warbler migration in northern Ohio among other things.

So this  means we can’t be in Baja California until a little into April. Are the Gray Whales reliable at this time and where is the best place to see  and interact with them? Also info about the marmots and Mountain Beavers is very welcome!


  • John Spencer

    I did a 12 day Baja/Sea of Cortez whale watching trip early March last year. It was so stunning I’m doing it again late March/early April this year.
    The gray whales and their calves should still be in San Ignacio Lagoon at this time – preparing for their journey north.
    I can’t recommend this trip highly enough. Choose a small boat c. 20 passengers, and go into the Sea of Cortez for blue whales and huge (c. 1000+!) schools of Common Dolphin. Also, Bryce’s, Fin whales off west coast of Baja.

  • Jamie Lamb

    If you can’t get Grey Whale in April in Baja, and you are going to Vancouver Island to get Marmot, there should be some around Tofino by mid to late May. Also an incredible place for other marine species too. There should also be some whale watching in California where you could see them migrating past. But I’d recommend Tofino 100%, and you are not too far from Mt Washington, which in my experience is the best place on the Island for Marmot..

  • Ian Thompson

    Agree with Jamie. Grey Whales are present throughout April and May in Tofino (some essentially occur there year-round now). We regularly see Gray Whales from our house in Victoria in April. Olympic Marmot at Hurricane Ridge -nearest colony is less than 15 minute walk from the parking lot. Mountain Beaver along the Olympic Discovery Trail just east of the ferry terminal in Port Angeles – look for their burrows in amongst the vegetation on the slope on the south side of the trail as you walk east. VI Marmots at Mount Washington ski resort or, if you want to see them in a wilder setting, along the trail up Mount Albert Edwards just west of the ski resort.

    • Animalita

      Very interesting! So that means it is not necessary to visit Baja California for the Gray Whales.
      What about the Marmots in May? Is the road to Hurricane Ridge open then. Would it be much better later in the year?

  • Ian Thompson

    You will get much closer to the Gray Whales in Baja than you will off the coast of Vancouver Island, so it depends on what you are looking for. We did a day’s boat trip out of Tofino in mid-April a few years ago and saw 7 Gray Whales – a couple fairly close by, but certainly not an arm’s length away. The road to Hurricane Ridge is generally open throughout the year, with limited hours in the winter and intermittent closures due to weather conditions. Generally speaking you should be able to see the marmots in May unless you get really unlucky with the weather. Happy to chat about specific details.

  • Daan Drukker

    Don’t forget to check the reports on this website. I’ve written one about the northern part of your planned journey (including several sightings of Grey whale):

  • Animalita

    It seems like the Gray Whale mothers with their young have left Laguna San Ignacio very early the last three years so no idea for us to visit Baja California in April.
    That means we can visit Vancouver Island a little bit later in May. Better for the Marmots I think and hopefully for the Gray Whales also.
    Daan Drukker, your report (and a lot of others) will be very useful for the planning.
    Ian Thompson, I’m very grateful for all information about mammals on VI and around! My email is

  • Lars Michael Nielsen

    I don’t know about the mammals youre asking fore but i had great wievs of the Whooper Cranes on a boat trip with “The Skimmer” from Fulton harbour. The captain is a biologist and know a lot about the area. I kind of took over the task as bird guide for the other guests spotting and telling what we saw even thoug i live in Denmark. Theres Seaside Sparrows in the reeds in the bay if that has any interest. If you want more info just feel free to write. Jag kan svara på svenska om du vill det med 🙂 We had Bottlenosed Dolphins from the boat as well.

  • Ian Thompson

    First Gray Whale of 2023 seen off our place in Victoria this afternoon! I’m not sure that it’s really a harbinger of spring, but that’s how I’m choosing to interpret it.


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