In this travel guide you will find everything you need to plan your trip for whale watching in Ecuador. Every year along the coast of Ecuador humpback whales migrating more 4,000 miles from its feeding grounds in Antarctica to mate or give birth in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean
The cool thing about whale watching tours in Ecuador to see humpback whales is that you have a higher chance of seeing a mother with her calf, which we did on our tour. Male humpback whales don’t always perform their jumps to woo the females, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see them during the tour. It is just a great reason for you to come back to see the whales again.
Humpback whales get their name from the curvature in their back when they jump out of the water. These whales can weigh up to 30 tons and live up to an estimated 70 to 90 years.
When is humpback whale season in Ecuador?
Humpback Whales generally are present along the Ecuadorian coast from June to September.
Where can you see humpback whales in Ecuador?
Humpback whales can be seen along the whole coast of Ecuador. In the province of Santa Elena you can go whale watching in Salinas and Ayangue, while in Manabí you can see them on the way to Isla de La Plata, Puerto López, Pedernales, Jama, Punta Don Juan, Punta Prieta, Punta Ballena, Crucita, Bahía de Caráquez, Manta and Puerto Cayo. In Esmeraldas whales can be seen in Atacames, while in El Oro they can be seen in Santa Clara.
The 4 best places to go humpback whale watching in Ecuador:
- Puerto López: Tours depart from the Puerto López dock where you can go to Isla de la Plata ($45) or Isla Salango ($25). Both destinations are part of the Machalilla National Park.
- Salinas: Tours depart from the pier on the Malecón de Salina. The tour costs $ 20 per person plus $ 1 to use the pier. Salinas is the closest beach to Guayaquil for humpback whale watching. Some of the tours include visits to La Chocolatera, which is the second furthest point sticking out into the Pacific Ocean in South American and something you must visit if you are in Salinas.
- Atacames: As part of the whale watching tour, many operators take you to visit the Peña de Súa and the Súa beach.
- Santa Clara: Tours depart from the Isla Santa Clara Marine Reserve. In this reserve you can also observe seabirds, as it is one of the most numerous colonies of seabirds in all of continental Ecuador.
Humpback Whale watching tour information
- Going to see the humpback whales in Puerto López costs $25 dollars and includes snorkeling on the island of Salango. If you also want to visit Isla de la Plata, the tour costs $45.
- Going to see the humpback whales in Salina costs $21 per person and only includes the humpback whale watching. We recommend doing the tour on the Monica II boat. You can contact Gabriel to help you with the reservation: +593-0981474860.
- If you want to see the male whales jump out of the water, we recommend whale watching in June and July, when the males are more likely attracting the females; while in August and September you will have more chances to witness the young calves.
- Make sure to take use a tour operator recognized by the Ministry of the Environment.
- Whale Watching Tours last between 2 to 3 hours depending on where you take the tour.
- The average sighting time is 25 minutes unless the whales are accompanied by their young, and in that case the visit will last 15 minutes.
- The costs of the tours vary depending on the area and the activities they include, the range is from $20 to $50 per person.
- You must use life jackets that the boat gives you. There are no exceptions.
- You cannot stand or change your location inside the boat unless you have authorization from the crew, as it will shift the balance.
- Swimming or diving is not allowed.
- You cannot dump food or trash into the water.
What should you bring for humpback whale watching?
- Camera and cell phone
- Ziploc Bag or waterproof covers to protect your cell phone from water
- Cap or hat
- Comfortable clothes and shoes that can get wet