Baja California and the Sea of Cortez is truly a year-round travel destination, and the specialists at AdventureSmith Explorations have compiled this guide to help you know when to go to best accommodate your interests. AdventureSmith Explorations is the global leader in small ship adventure cruises, with a comprehensive selection of cruises aboard 8- to 84-guest vessels in the Sea of Cortez. While you can travel on land any time of year, Baja cruises primarily operate from November through April, taking advantage of pleasant weather and sailing conditions. The hot, sunny and dry desert climate offers a wonderful getaway from frigid North American winters. Knowing the seasonal variations will help you plan your small ship Baja cruise. Here’s a look at what’s happening in Baja, by month:
January, February & March
During the midwinter months of January through March, cooler ocean currents bring oxygen and nutrient-rich water to the surface where they mix with abundant sunlight resulting in a bloom of food for marine animals. Small plankton form the base of a thriving food chain that brings migratory whales, other marine mammals and birdlife to Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Many plankton are also photo sensitive and result in astounding light shows in the water. This is the most popular time to travel to Baja and advanced reservations are recommended.
- Whales begin to arrive in December and remain through April, but the winter months of January through March are the best time to see gray whales in the mating and breeding lagoons along the Pacific coast.
- Migratory humpback whales and whale sharks are also at peak numbers in the Sea of Cortez during this time
- Tropical storms, known as chubascos, can bring high winds and rough seas, although these are usually short lived.
- Water temperatures average 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with air temperatures in the 70s.
April, May & June
Spring in Baja is offers perfect weather and a respite from the high-season crowds. This is a great time to find a deal on a small ship cruise while still enjoying all that Baja has to offer.
- Migratory gray and humpback whale season is ending, yet there are still chances to spot some in smaller numbers. Whale watching lagoons are less crowded with whales and people.
- This is a great time to view blue and fin whales with the season running through October.
- There are chances to view sperm whales and sea turtles.
- Birders will enjoy opportunities to view red-billed tropicbirds along with flocks of shearwaters and blue-footed boobies.
- Water temperatures are in the upper 70s with air temperatures in the high 80s getting hotter as spring progresses.
July, August & September
Obviously summer is the hottest time of year, and in Baja it can be extreme. Because of this there are few, if any, small ship cruises operating this time of year. Most small ships relocate north to Alaska or south to Costa Rica and Panama. Land-based tours such as the Baja Intimate Insider, in the Southern Peninsula offer some respite from the heat, especially on the Pacific coast.
- This is the best time of year to view blue and fin whales with the season continuing through October.
- This is the most common time to see sperm whales in the Sea of Cortez.
- Elephant seals can be found in select regions along the Pacific coast. They come ashore to breed, give birth and molt.
- Summer months are a good time to view chackwalla, iguana, lizards and sea turtles.
- The best time to spot blue-footed boobies.
- Water temperatures in the 80s, with air temperatures in the 90s.
Suggested trips during July, August & September include Baja Intimate Insider.
October, November & December
Fall in Baja and the Sea of Cortez marks a return to pleasant warm weather and the beginning of the small ship cruise season. This is a great time to travel before high-season crowds arrive during the December holidays.
- Gray and humpback whale season begins with most whales arriving by late December.
- There are some chances to see blue, fin and sperm whales with sightings decreasing as the season progresses.
- Sea turtles and whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, become active.
- There are good chances to see blue-footed boobies and red-billed tropicbirds.
- Water temperatures are in the mid 70s, with air temperatures in the 80s.
Baja is home to abundant wildlife year-round and the following animals can be seen at any time of year.
- California sea lions are active year-round in Baja and the Sea of Cortez.
- Expect to see brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, dolphins, orca and pilot whales year-round.
- Blue-footed boobies also frequent the region in all seasons.
Suggested trips at any time of year include Baja Intimate Insider.
Find more information on: Baja’s climate, 5 Must-Dos on a Baja Adventure Cruise and Baja Small Ship Cruises. If you have further questions about when to go to Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, contact one of AdventureSmith Explorations’ Baja cruise experts.
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