Magdalena Bay Offers More Adventures than its Famous Grey Whale Watching Tours

Everyone typically comes to Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos on the Pacific Coast of Baja California Sur in winter to witness the grey whale migration in Magdalena Bay. The short season, only 3 months from January to the end of March, is when the port is packed with tourists bordering boats to head out into Magdalena Bay to see the Grey Whales. An incredible experience, these curious creatures often come right up to the boat. But that is only  three months of the year, what about the other nine months?

grey whales magdalena Bay Puerto Aldofo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico with Garcia Tours

Photo courtesy of Garcia Tours

Well, there is way more to Lopez Mateos (what many locals call it) than its Grey Whales. My visit in late spring enable me to witness plenty of marine mammals, a hike on the dunes, and even listen to the call of the coyotes. Here are five encounters to appreciate when visiting Puerto Lopez in the “off-season.”


After boarding a boat often used to take tourists to see whales, we left the harbor in search of Dolphins. Nearly instantly we found plenty to follow and appreciate from the boat. Even after watching dolphins in Loreto Bay with ABT Sailing, one of the luxury travel experiences of Loreto, I still remain intrigued and appreciative of the swimming dolphins. Always tough to capture a quality image since they dive and don’t offer much of a view, I decided once we followed our second group later on the tour to attempt to capture a selfie with dolphins in the background. Why not? We were spoiled. I eventually succeeded in this fun task.

dolphin selfie in Magdalena bay offshore of Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico

a few dolphins photo bomb my selfie

a Lone Sea Lion

Normally, you’ll visit a sea lion colony when in Baja California Sur and even dive in to swim with them as I did during my adventures in La Paz, but in Magdalena Bay we had the experience to bear witness to a sole sea lion on the shore. The captain pulled the boat close to get a great view of this majestic mammal, and it was a pleasant surprise on our time in the Bay.

a lone sea lion on the shores of magdalena island in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico

a sole sea lion enjoying the beach

Nesting Frigate Birds

The protected and remote Magdalena Island seems to either be sand dunes or mangroves and there is beauty in both. During our time, we waded in our boat close to the nesting Frigate Birds in the mangroves to watch the colonies feed their young.  It wasn’t solely Frigates as the smaller, yet versatile (can both swim and fly) cormorants were also nesting in big numbers.

nest frigate birds on Magdalena Island in the Magroves by Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico

Frigate Birds at their colony


Outside of the whale season, fishing is constant in this area. The protected waters of Magdalena Bay are all catch and release, but the challenge and thrill of fishing is available to any and all. With a knowledgeable captain, as I did have with Sergio Garcia of Garcia Tours, it was just seconds before I reeled in my first catch, a lovely sea bass. But fishing for all sorts of sport fishing both in the mangroves, the bay and the Pacific remains a big reason to come visit this part of Baja California Sur. Listen in to the podcast 54, Crossing to Comondu, The Lure of Loreto Part II, to hear what Sergio says about fishing, the type of fish available here.

Catching Fishi in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico

fishing in Baja


After a morning tour, we set out again in the afternoon, picked up on the beachfront of our local hotel, the Mangrove Inn, to head out to the island to look for coyotes and then eventually walk along the dunes for some impressive photography. Surprisingly, the coyotes were quickly spotted and in big numbers too. We found a few in a few different locations along the shoreline, before heading further down to come ashore at a place close to the Mangroves.

Coyotes on Magdalena Island from a boat leaving Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico

two coyotes enjoying the afternoon sun

Sand Dunes

The majestic dunes provide a unique backdrop for cruising along in Magdalena Bay, but they are even more impressive once ashore with the opportunity to hike them. After stepping out of the boat onto Magdalena Island we all ventured out on our own paths up and down the dunes to capture moments stopping to reflect on the seemingly timeless moment affront of us all. I sat down at one point to just view the scenic landscape, a place with opportunity to transform a tourist.

the sand dunes of Magdalena Island from Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos Baja California Sur, Mexico

the sand dunes meet the mangroves on Magdalena Island

All this was available in Puerto Aldofo Lopez Mateos, outside of its Grey whale season. And it is all just a two hour drive (all paved roads) from downtown Loreto. So, don’t worry if you miss the winter whale season, still look to explore places like Lopez Mateos, and Magdalena Island especially if you like to seek natural pristine environments and appreciate “encounters” with the local inhabitants.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Special thanks to ATMEX and Loreto BCS Tourism for the invite and hosting my travels in this region of Baja California Sur


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