When humpback whales travel thousands of kilometers north from the cold waters of the Antarctic ocean to the warm currents abundant with food along Ecuador’s coastline, it means that whale season is starting again! You can enjoy this spectacle from late June until early October.
Humpback whales can grow up to 16 meters in length, and weigh around 36 tonnes. Despite their massive size, they seem weightless swimming and jumping in the ocean. The first ones to arrive on the coastline are young males. These are the ones that are the nearest to the coast and the most likely to jump out of the water. By jumping and singing (that can last up to 20 minutes) they try to attract and impress females to find a willing partner to mate.
Females that got pregnant the year before are the last to return to the tropical waters due to their extra weight. There, they give birth to the young whale calves. The hot water is important for the survival of the newborns. They would never survive in the cold water of Antarctica due to their lack of a protecting fat layer.
After a few months of binge eating and gaining enough strength and fat to survive the following months in the cold water, the humpback whales start traveling back in southern direction towards Antarctica.
The best places to start whale watching are Mompiche, Salinas, Bahía de Caraquez and Puerto Lopez.
Among all these cities Puerto Lopez is best known for this attraction. Not only can you go whale, watching but you can also visit the national park Machalilla with the famous beaches of “Los Frailes” and the “Isla de la Plata”. The island is also known as the poor man’s Galapagos since there are some species like the blue-footed booby that you can find as well on the Galapagos Islands and add to the excitement, in a lot of cases, snorkeling is included in the tours. See our Galapagos cruises and find the perfect cruise for you!
Just make sure you wear some warm and waterproof clothes! The boats are small and open-topped so if the sea is rough, you might get a little wet! But don't let the weather stop you from enjoying the impressive courtship displays of the whales - a once in a lifetime experience!
Written by: Anna Leicht