Ecuador is famous for many things: the Galapagos Islands, chocolate, coffee, and spectacular scenery from vulcano’s, the pacific and the amazon rainforest. But there’s one little-known (but extremely large) display of nature that shouldn’t be missed by nature lovers visiting Ecuador.
‘What is it?’ we hear you ask….
Whale watching in Ecuador!
This is an absolute must for any Ecuador bucket list. If you Google the best places in South America for whale watching, you’ll see plenty of entries for Ecuador.
While the whale watching in Ecuador is undeniably incredible on the Galapagos Islands, there are plenty of other places to glimpse humpback whales in Ecuador that are a lot more friendly for the travellers’ wallet.
With our complete guide to whale watching in Ecuador, we’re going to give you the best possible chance of seeing these gentle giants in the wild.
When is the best season for whale watching in Ecuador?
June to October is prime time for whale watching in Ecuador. Thankfully for those on a budget, you won’t even need to visit the Galapagos Islands. The infrastructure for seeing whales in Ecuador is even better along the northern coast of the mainland, meaning you can view wildlife from boat trips, paddle boards, and even the mainland, all without blowing the budget.
Best places for whale watching in Ecuador
The Humpback whales come to warm Ecuadorean waters, close to the coastal lines where it’s shallow and safe to have their young and find a new mate. So you can find them with 1000’s all along the coast, though from few places they are easy to spot.
The most fantastic Ecuador whale watching location is Machalilla National Park. During the summer months, more than 7,000 humpback whales pass by the triangle of shallow water between Puerto Lopez – Isla de la plata – Manta, making it one of the best whale watching locations in Ecuador, as well as the world. From Puerto Lopez, whale whatching tours are organized where you go out in small boats finding and admiring the whales from up close for about two hours.
In certain spots, the whales in this triangle are spotable also from land. The hills of Santa Marianita are the best look-out: in the mid of the whale season you can easily see 5 whales a day jumping out of the pacific. On the hill poin is located Punta la Barca nomad homestay and co-working is located, hosting every year from August to September a whale watching getaway where nomads can live, work and whale watch. For more information, watch here.
Finaly, the Galapagos Islands are extremely popular for dolphin and whale watching. Though as the Galapagos are set up for tours rather than independent travel, your best bet is to book a whale watching tour. You can do this either online or when you arrive at your accommodation.
What exactly happens during whale watching season?
During this season, whales migrate from Antarctica to South America, usually reaching Colombia or even making it as far as Mexico. There’s only one way to reach their end destination which is along Ecuador’s coastline; good news for whale watchers in Ecuador!
Humpback whales come to Ecuador thanks to the warmer water temperatures (much like many surfers and holidaymakers from Europe!). After their 4,000-mile voyage, they’re in the ideal climate for mating and giving birth to live young. This incredibly long voyage is in fact the longest migration made by any mammal. If that’s not a reason to see them for yourself, we don’t know what is!
Tips for whale watching in Ecuador
- Get the season right. If you visit Ecuador between November and May, it’s unlikely you’ll see any whales.
- Don’t forget your camera! If you have a great zoom, use it to capture photos of whales from afar.
- Patience is key. Whenever interacting with wild animals, they’re in control. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see whales straight away. Tours give you a whale-watch guarentee, you’ll definitely get to see them.
- Bring the right kit Don’t forget sunscreen, a hat, and a pullover: a seemingly cloudy day can turn furthen in sea into baking sun, and a warm day can make you shiver on the boat.
- If you are the adventurous type, avoid the turist tours and go to a hill point for a more intime enccocunter. The one at Punta La Barca in Santa Marianita rents out Stand Up Paddle to get closer on your own. It is also the perfect spot to go out on a kitesurf and follow the whales around. Be cautious though and keep always your distance, 20 meters is recommended. The whales are curious and never attack, but an accidental sweep of their tail could probably kill a person.
So, with all that said, are you keen to come whale watching in Ecuador? If so, we’d love to host you at Punta La Barca.
Drop us a message on +593959839180 and we’ll be glad to book you in for our whale watching resort.