Thar Be Whales, Captain!

Please excuse the line from an old Star Trek movie.

We headed out, on a windy day, to Punta de Mita for a whale watching excursion.  When we arrived, we were told that the cost was 1200 pesos ($120.00 US) for the boat.   The boat can handle up to eight people, so of course, the more people on the trip, the cheaper it is per person.   Since we were the only ones inclined to venture out on the large swells, we decided to have lunch and hope for more suckers to arrive.

As we ate, we watched the surfers, who were enjoying one of the best days of surfing.  Punta de Mita is normally a very good spot to surf, but the surfers need to take a boat to the “point” where the waves break best.  Today there were waves exceeding 20 feet at the “point” so nobody ventured over there.  Here’s a shot, taken later from the boat, showing the large waves approaching the “point”.


The waves, which don’t usually break in front of the restaurants, were about 3-6 feet tall and very well formed.  There was also a great distance between the waves.  Surfers were able to catch waves that would slowly take them for a ride that exceeded a minute.


In about an hour, when we were finishing our lunch, we were told that, indeed, they had found two additional people to share a boat.  Neither the captain nor the other couple spoke any English.  The captain pulled the boat stern near the shore so that we could step in next to the motor.


We headed out through 6-8 foot swells past some islands that lay about 3 miles off shore.  These islands are popular snorkeling and diving spots because of the caves and rock cuts, one of which can be seen in this photo.


There are three major groups of humpbacks; North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere.  Some of the North Pacific humpbacks work their way, about 3500 miles, from waters near Alaska to the area around Puerto Vallarta and the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags).  Punta de Mita is at the northern end of the bay.  The whales arrive in mid-November and head back in mid-March.  They breed here and then the next year following the 11-12 month gestation period give birth here in the area.   The calves are about 14-feet long and weigh about 2.5 tons (5,000 pounds) at birth.  When fully grown, they will reach a length of about 52 feet and will weigh 30 to 50 tons (60,000 to 100,000 pounds). 

More information about Humpback Whales can be found at:

About a mile past the islands we spotted our first group of four whales.  The captain worked us close to the action.  Apparently the whales like the interaction.  I left the boat in the picture for perspective.


When they spout and breathe is the first sign that lets you know they are in the area.  The action of breathing is quite loud.


Their enormous tails are nearly as wide as our boat is long.  When they come down beside you it takes your breath away.


Sitting on the beach at Lo de Marcos we have seen whales breaching well over a mile out to sea.  The splash they make is huge and easily seen from shore.  The act of breaching is when they propel themselves out of the water, do some spinning and splash back down.


This photo courtesy of AFP.

We followed the whales for about an hour and then headed back in through, and on the backs of, the waves to our starting point.  Punta de Mita is growing rapidly with numerous condos and resorts.  The largest resort is the Four Seasons. 


The Mexican government is planning to build new resorts in every town from Puerto Vallarta northward to San Blas, about a hundred miles.  Evidence of this is easy to spot in Lo de Marcos, where they have fenced off two beaches for construction to begin this summer.

In all, we had a great time.  The food at all of the restaurants in Punta de Mita is great.  As a matter of fact, we’ve had good meals almost everywhere in Mexico.  The whale watching was everything you would ask for, and of course, the weather was great.

If you are in this area between December and March, be sure to check out the whales.

5 Responses to “Thar Be Whales, Captain!”

  1. Wow! What an adventure, the whales are awesome!

  2. Sister says:

    You will probably be interested in what happened in Bonaire. Johnny and Grace were snorkeling, quite far from shore, when a boat went slowly by and then they looked to one side and there were 2 dolphins swimming along side them. They were thrilled, of course.
    Your whale adventure sounds great.
    Keep adventuring.

  3. Sister says:

    You are really doing a good job with you blog. Mine never got off the first page!!

  4. Sister says:

    Isn’t that quote originally from Moby Dick?

  5. Rick and Tinka says:

    Nope, in Moby Dick, the phrase was “Thar she blows”.
    The actual line in Star Trek was uttered by Scotty upon beaming whales up into their stolen Romulan ship. He may have said “There” rather than “Thar”, but I liked “Thar” better.

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