Marine Marvels: Costco Connection
Just about everywhere you go, there are great opportunities to get on, in and under the water, to see and often interact with an amazing variety of Mexico’s marine life.
Cancun and Riviera Maya
Whale shark season in Cancun and on the Riviera Maya typically runs from mid-May to mid-September, when the water is warmer. These colorfully spotted creatures grow to more than 40 feet long and can weigh more than 20 tons.
From Riviera Maya, a one-hour boat ride to blue water will get you to the whale shark aggregation, where you can get up close with these gentle giants.
June through early October is nesting season for green turtles and loggerhead turtles. A number of hotels have special interactive programs that allow guests to help protect these turtles; at Moon Palace Cancun, you can participate in the hatching and release of newborn turtles to the sea every September and October. Always call ahead to determine specific schedules.
Whale-watching season in Cabo ranges from early December to mid-April. That’s when about a thousand gray, humpback and orca whales head south from Alaska. There are a number of ways to experience these whales. My tip: Go in the early morning, when the sea is relatively calm, and on a larger boat (instead of a Zodiac) if you’re prone to motion sickness.
If you like to snorkel, about 9 miles from Cabo San Lucas and away from the crowds is Santa Maria Beach. My tip: Arrive around sunrise, when the water in Santa Maria Bay is calmer and you’ll have the entire bay nearly to yourself before the big tour boats arrive. You’ll see colorful yellow porkfish, parrotfish, sergeant majors and puffer fish, to name a few.
Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit
Located in the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay offer generally calm waters and a number of special chances to experience sea life. Whale-watching season in Puerto Vallarta is a winter and early spring activity, running from December through March.
Other inhabitants of Banderas Bay include dolphins—bottlenose (yearround) and spinner and rough-toothed dolphins (December to March). And a number of tours allow you to get in the water and swim with them.
Farther north of Puerto Vallarta (about a one-hour drive), in the lush but relatively secluded Riviera Nayarit, with almost 200 miles of coastline, you’ll discover the prime breeding grounds for olive ridley turtles, as well as hawksbill, leatherback and black turtles, with their nesting season from June to December.
You’ll also have a number of chances to spot whales in both Sayulita and Rincón de Guayabitos. From December to April in Sayulita, you’ll see humpback whales, along with bottlenose and spotted dolphins. A little farther north, about a 30-minute drive from Sayulita, the whales swim by the coast of Rincón de Guayabitos between December and mid-March.