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January 26, 2023

4 essential tips for whale watching in Puerto Vallarta

Every year, from December to March, the nomadic song of humpback whales and their calves floods the warm waters of Puerto Vallarta's ocean.  At least once in your life you must experience this exciting natural wonder on the open sea.

Below is everything you need to know for your next ocean adventure.  In addition, we provide you with 4 very reliable options to consider when choosing a whale watching tour in Puerto Vallarta.

Don’t forget using the hashtag #VisitPuertoVallarta to share your whale watching stories, photos and videos!


1. An Eco-Adventure For Early Birds

Ballenas en Puerto Vallarta

The best whale watching season in Puerto Vallarta may be January and February, although the migration season typically runs from December through March.

You will find several specialized whale watching companies in Puerto Vallarta.  Below are 4 safe and highly professional options to consider when choosing your next eco-adventure.

Remember, getting up early is a must.  The tours take place in the morning, last an average of 3 hours and are usually recommended for people of all ages.  The average price per person is $87 USD for adults and $77 USD for children, as of January 2023.

Pro Guide Tip: Get your camera ready; you will want to capture your experience at sea.  Bring only the essentials with you: a hat, sunglasses, non-slip shoes and a light, waterproof jacket.  Oh, and don't forget: Wear sunscreen!


2. Hitting the Right Note At Sea

Ballena en Puerto Vallarta

Encountering humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) at sea is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Each winter, these colossal marine mammals migrate from the icy polar zones to seek the warm refuge offered by the waters of our Banderas Bay.

Many of them choose the waters of Puerto Vallarta to become mothers and begin to guide their calves through the complexity of life under the sea.  Others are fascinated by male courtship and mating rituals.  For a period of 4 months, the Mexican Pacific Ocean becomes a fertile territory for aquatic activities.  Leaping, breaching, playing and flapping abound.

It's also fascinating to listen to their songs.  These hypnotic sound sequences are emitted by the whales in chorus and can sometimes last for half an hour or more.  The whale watching boats in Puerto Vallarta usually have special devices that will allow you to hear the whales as they communicate with each other.

Pro Guide Tip:  Make sure you book a hotel room with a front ocean view.  This will give you more chances to watch the whales from your balcony.  On full moon nights it can be a truly impressive spectacle.


3. Do Responsible Whale Watching

Ballena en Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of the most biodiverse destinations in Mexico.  Our beaches, rivers, mountains and, of course, the sea are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.  Their closeness provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to co-exist and interact with them.  But it also brings with it a great responsibility. 

That's why it's important to choose a certified company for your next whale watching tour in Puerto Vallarta.  They are the only ones who can guarantee your safety as a guest and the adherence to good navigation and observation practices during the season.

Remember, there are 3 basic rules that we all need to follow when whale watching:

  1. Have as little impact on the whales as possible 
  2. Be patient
  3. Only go whale watching with an authorized vessel or company.

The 4 companies we recommend meet these requirements, you can be sure.  Their crews are usually led by marine biologists, nature photographers, and specialized guides who will be happy to share their experience and knowledge with you.

Humpback whale watching tour prices include a donation fee. The donation goes towards important conservation and scientific research on these marine giants.

Pro Guide Tip: As a responsible eco-tourist, make sure that the boat of your choice has a visible flag and that it has the appropriate authorization from the Mexican authorities.


4. Have a Whale of A Time!

Ballena Puerto Vallarta

Now all you need to do is select the date and whale watching tour of your choice.  It is important that you check with your tour operator about any travel restrictions, embarkation location and time, and any other questions you may have before making your booking.  Have fun and enjoy this incredible experience!

Pro Guide Tip:  Try to arrive early or at least 45 minutes in advance at the boarding or check-in location.  If you are prone to seasickness, please consult with your physician regarding the options that are available to you


Whale Watching Tours We Love*

Please note that all prices are per person and are valid for online bookings as of January, 2023.  Rates are subject to change without prior notice.  Book directly with your preferred tour operator.

Vallarta Adventures
• Rates: Adults (12+) - $62 USD
                Children (6-11) - $43 USD 
   Prices for online bookings only
• Availability: Daily
• Duration: 3 hrs.
• What’s included: Light snack
                                 Purified water
• Why we love them: Your guides are very friendly and knowledgeable about humpback whales.  Vallarta Adventures has 3 different whale watching tour options to choose from depending on what experience you are looking for.

Wildlife Connection 
• Rates: Adults (12+) - $72 USD
               Children (4-11) - $48 USD
   Prices for online bookings only
• Availability: Daily
• Duration: 4 hrs. 30 min. (approx.)
• What’s included: Specialized bilingual guide
                                 Educational explanation
                                 Hydrophone on board
                                 Light breakfast 
                                 Bottled water and soft drinks
• Why we love them:  Wildlife Connection offers special whale watching schedules for cruise passengers.  They are an inclusive company: People with physical, visual or hearing disabilities are welcome.  They also have the first whale adoption program in Puerto Vallarta, which is called "Radar".

Eco Explorer Vallarta
• Rates: Adults (12+) -$89 USD
               Children (6-11) - $79 USD
  Prices for online bookings only
• Availability: Daily
• Duration: 3 hrs.
• What’s included: Expert guides in the marine mammals study
                                 Lecture on whale’s biology, behavior and mating rituals
                                 Hydrophone on board
                                 Granola bars, fruits and water on board
                                 Life jacket
                                 Donation for whale conservation program.
• Why we love them:  Eco Explorer Vallarta offers private whale watching tours for groups of 6 and 10 people starting from $570 USD. 

Ecotours Vallarta
• Rates: Adults (+12) - $89 USD 
              Children (6-11) - $81 USD
   Prices for online bookings only
• Availability: Daily
• Duration: 4 hrs.
• What’s included: Donation to humpback whale research project
                                 Coffee or tea, soft drinks
                                 Energy bars
                                 Purified water
                                 Light snack on board
                                 Expedition leader  
                                 Travelers insurance
• Why we love them:  Ecotours Vallarta is one of the most reliable whale watching tour operators with over 25 years of experience.  They offer 2 daily departure times: in the morning (8:30 am) and in the afternoon (1:00 pm).  They support the work of Ecobac (Ecology and Conservation of Whales); an important non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research and conservation of these marine mammals in Banderas Bay.


*Important: The rates shown are for information purposes only. All rates are per person and are valid for online reservations only (as of January, 2023). We encourage you to book directly with your preferred tour operator as rates are subject to change without notice.

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