While you plan Baja travel for any time of year, Baja cruises in the Sea of Cortez primarily operate in the months of November through April, taking advantage of pleasant weather and sailing conditions. The hot, sunny and dry desert climate offers the perfect getaway from winter in North America. We offer various options to explore Baja, by land and sea, with our expedition cruise options including small ships of 8 to 100 guests. Here’s a look at what’s happening in Baja by month, so you can plan the best Baja travel time for your interests.
January, February & March in Baja
The midwinter months of January through March are the most popular time to travel in Baja due to prime weather and wildlife. 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 are the foundation of a thriving food chain that lures migratory whales, other marine mammals and birdlife to Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Many of these plankton are also photo sensitive and result in astounding light shows in the water. Highlights during this time are:
- 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.
Suggested Baja trips in the winter: Serenity & Sea Life in the Sea of Cortez, Baja’s Bounty Cruise, Baja California & The Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales, Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles, Wild California Escape: Channel Islands, From Southern California to Baja: Sailing the Pacific Coast, The Whales of Magdalena Bay, Camp Cecil Adventure and Westward Voyages in the Sea of Cortez
April, May & June in Baja
Spring in Baja 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. Here are the highlights of visiting Baja in the spring:
- 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 blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, pelicans, frigatebirds, cormorants, terns, great blue herons, ibis, whimbrels and willets.
- Water temperatures are in the upper 70s with air temperatures in the high 80s getting hotter as spring progresses.
Suggested Baja trips in the spring include: Baja’s Bouny Cruise, Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles, Wild California Escape: Channel Islands, Baja California: A Remarkable Journey and Camp Cecil Adventure.
July, August & September in Baja
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 July through September. 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 reach into the 80s, with air temperatures in the 90s.
October, November & December in Baja
Fall in Baja and the Sea of Cortez marks a return to pleasant temperatures 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.
Suggested Baja trips in the fall/early-winter: Camp Cecil Adventure, Serenity & Sea Life in the Sea of Cortez, Baja’s Bounty Cruise, Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles, Wild California Escape: Channel Islands, From Southern California to Baja: Sailing the Pacific Coast and Westward Voyages in the Sea of Cortez.
Travel to Baja in Any Month
Baja is home to abundant wildlife year-round and the following animals can be seen at any time of year.
- California sea lions
- Brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies
- Dolphins, orca and pilot whales
Suggested year-round trip: Our Baja Intimate Insider is always available to book pre- or post-cruise, or on its own in any month of the year.
Find more information on Baja travel, or contact one of AdventureSmith Explorations’ Baja cruise experts to learn more about the best time to book your Baja and Sea of Cortez travel.
This Baja guide is among AdventureSmith Explorations’ extensive collection of travel guides. Find more on the AdventureSmith Travel Blog. While originally published in December 2015, this post is updated periodically by our experts. Our most recent update occurred May 2020.