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Whale Watching in Panama

And how to do it responsible

Whale Watching in Panama
whale watching in panama

Panama, a country located at the crossroads of two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, is home to one of the most exciting and moving natural spectacles: whale watching. In the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, off the Panamanian coast, an aquatic ballet starring majestic humpback whales takes place , an experience that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who have the privilege of witnessing it.

The Gulf of Chiriquí, located on the Pacific coast of Panama, is one of the most important marine sanctuaries in the world and a refuge for countless marine species, including humpback whales. Every year, during the winter months, these ocean giants migrate from the cold waters of the North Pole to the warm coasts of Panama to reproduce and give birth to their young. This natural phenomenon, which occurs between the months of July and October, offers travelers the unique opportunity to witness up close the fascinating behavior and incomparable grace of these marine creatures.

It is estimated that more than 2,000 humpback whales reach the Pacific coast, which extends from the Gulf of Chiriquí, passing through Isla Coiba, the south of the province of Veraguas, the Azuero peninsula, the Pearl Archipelago to Taboga Island, considered as ideal sites for sighting these marine giants, which attracts tourism to the country.

The whale watching experience in Panama begins long before embarking on the boats specially designed for this purpose. The palpable anticipation, the buzz of excitement in the air, and the lively chatter of the local guides create an atmosphere of contagious excitement. Once on board, visitors are greeted by expert naturalists and passionate sailors who are not only knowledgeable about whales, but also have a deep love for the ocean and its biodiversity.

The sea voyage begins with a gentle sail into the depths of the ocean, where turquoise waters meet the vast horizon. In this idyllic setting, the crew, together with the travelers, begins the patient search for the whales. The waters of the Gulf of Chiriquí are populated by a rich variety of marine life, from playful dolphins to majestic turtles, offering a complete experience of marine diversity before even spotting the whales.

The memorable

First Encounters

The first sign of a humpback whale sighting is exciting and captivating. A blowhole emerges on the surface of the water, followed by the imposing figure of a whale that rises majestically, displaying its distinctive dorsal fin before gliding gracefully back into the deep ocean. Sighs of amazement and exclamations of admiration fill the air as travelers watch this incredibly intimate spectacle from the deck of the boat.
Humpback whales, with their massive, graceful bodies, perform a series of captivating behaviors ranging from aerial leaps to tails slapping the water in a gesture known as “tail slapping.” These displays of strength and skill are an integral part of their communication and play a crucial role in their mating cycle. Observing this behavior in their natural habitat is a moving experience that deepens understanding of the intelligence and emotional complexity of these magnificent marine mammals.

The long journey of humpback whales

Humpback whales are animals that can measure up to 16 meters long and weigh more than 40 tons. They make a journey of very long migration from Antarctica . T he distances traveled during migration can be incredibly long, with each whale traveling up to 25,000 kilometers in a single year. During the time they are moving they hardly rest, nor do they stop to feed, surviving thanks to their body fat reserves.
This annual trip aims to give birth to calves , called whale calves, which can measure up to four meters and weigh a ton.
Throughout the month of July, humpback whales begin to arrive in tropical waters, whose warm waters are between 24°C to 32°C, where their calves are born, which are actually the reason for their visit to this area of the world: their Babies are born with little fat and it would be practically impossible for them to survive if they did so in the icy waters of Antarctica; During these months they can be seen in tropical waters, even well into October because the late mothers delay their return as much as possible to give their babies time to develop, and their babies consume up to 100 liters of milk per day, during this time. 

Responsibility first

How to do it right

These giant mammals take advantage of the abundance of fish off the coast of Panama to hunt in groups, cornering and devouring hundreds of prey in each maneuver.

Whale watching in Panama is not only a delight for the senses, but also a master lesson in the importance of marine conservation. Guides not only share interesting facts about whales, but also educate visitors about the urgent need to protect these oceans, home to whales and countless other species. Every close encounter with a humpback whale serves as a striking reminder of the fragile beauty of our marine ecosystem and the shared responsibility of preserving it for future generations.

Ultimately, whale watching in Panama goes beyond simply being a tourist activity; It is a transformative journey that connects humans with the amazing wonder of nature. The experience of coming face to face with these majestic marine creatures in their natural environment is a reminder of our interconnectedness with the natural world and urges us to appreciate, protect and preserve the unrivaled richness of our oceans. Every leap, every blowhole and every tail flick tells a story that invites us to marvel and commit to being responsible guardians of the wonders of the Pacific Ocean and all the oceans that adorn our blue planet,

Panamanian laws regarding whale watching

By law, Panamanian authorities have dictated the norms and rules to follow for a responsible enjoyment of this activity.

  • All guides most be registered at the Panamanian Tourism Authority.
  • Can’t come closer than 250m (820ft) from whales and 100m (328ft) from dolphins.
  • Can’t travel faster than 4knots (7km/h; 4.35mi/h) and never faster than the speed of the animals and never in opposite direction of the group of animals.
  • Motor most be on neutral and it can’t ever be turned on within a 50m radius from the whales or dolphins
  • Can’t stay for more than 30 minutes watching a group of whales and can’t be more than 2 ships watching the same group of whales.
  • Eco-radars are prohibited.
  • Never feed the whales.

We can help you book a whale watching tour with certified responsible local guides.  Just click on the booking form button for more info.