Panama Whale Watching
Destination Panama: For a Fantastic Whale Watching Adventure
It’s whale watching season in Panama! But then again, when isn't it?! Panama Whale Watching, although not many people have discovered it yet, is like visiting a Mecca for humpback whales. Panama welcomes these humongous crustaceans to its warm, tropical Pacific waters 7 out of the 12 months of the year! From July through October (officially ending on October 15th) Panama is safe haven for humpback whales traveling from the Southern hemisphere, on what’s considered the longest mammal migration ever recorded, traveling about 5000 miles all the way from Antarctica! And not only that, but they arrive by the thousands!! While from January to March, Panama is a preferred destination for humpback whales coming from the Arctic North, which may travel as far South as Venezuela. Aside from Costa Rica, Panama is the only other place in the world to receive humpback whale populations from both poles! If you’re looking for an amazing whale watching destination, whale watching in Panama should top your list!
Humpbacks Whales in Panama
As mentioned, Panama is one of the few places on Earth that receives humpback whales migrating from both the north and the south poles looking to breed and give birth to their calves. Humpback whales are still mysterious animals to humans; they've certainly been studied for many years and yet little is known about their fascinating behavior. Whales can grow as big as 50 ft in length and weigh up to 50 tons; imagine an eighteen wheeler gracefully flying out of the water! Humpback whales are very well known for their acrobatics and everlasting songs, yet no one knows what they mean really; some believe it could be part of a mating ritual, others a way to communicate between them, and there are other strange theories out there but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that humpbacks really know how to put up a show! And your Panama whale watching tour will be unforgettable.
Whale Watching in Paradise: Panama's Pearl Islands Whale Watching
The search for whales takes you out to the Pearl Islands, a true gem about 40 miles off Panama City’s Pacific coast with turquoise waters and pristine beaches that can be compared with the Caribbean. This archipelago and its beautiful white-sand beach islands have been the set for the American reality series “Survivor” 3 times already! Whale sighting rates recorded around the Pearl Islands have an outstanding 99% positive outcome, which means that even though no nature tour can guarantee you see whales, you have a pretty good chance to spot MANY on a whale watching tour to Pearl Islands. Although the Pearl Islands are a good distance away and a bit more costly than your average off-shore whale watching excursion, there are one-day whale watching trips to the Pearl Islands easily accessible from Panama City and totally worth every penny! AND if you’re already out at Contadora Island, one of the archipelagos 100 islands with a good tourism infrastructure by the way, there are less expensive Panama whale watching tour options readily available departing right from the beach!
Taboga Island Whale Watching From Panama City
A second very common sighting ground for humpbacks, and much closer to Panama City, is Taboga Island. Isla Taboga, or Island of Flowers, is only 12 miles from the entrance to the Panama Canal, south of Panama City. It is not uncommon that people aboard ships anchored waiting to transit the canal see whales from their front row seats, so if traveling aboard a cruise ship to Panama any time during whale season don’t forget to look out for the whales! Whale sightings from Taboga are not as overwhelmingly high as at the other Pearl Islands further out, but still with an 80% success rate it is pretty good! The cost for a whale watching tour to Taboga Island is more within budget, so if you can’t spend the bigger bucks to travel all the way out to the Pearl Islands you can still enjoy an outstanding Panama whale watching trip to Taboga Island.
Panama Marine Life: More Than Just Whale Watching
Aside from humpback whales, which are the main attraction for sure, in Panama you can also spot the occasional blue whale as well as some sperm whales, mink whales, whale sharks or even orcas! On these Panama whale watching trips you also have the chance of encountering many other species of marine life such as a variety of dolphins (bottlenose, pantropical spotted, rough-toothed, short-beaked common and spinner dolphins), sea turtles, giant manta rays, and several species of birds. Panama is also a bird watching paradise with over 900 bird species!
So if you decide to choose Panama as your tropical whale watching destination, always look for whale watching excursions that safeguard the well being of the whales and other sea creatures. There are tour companies out there, like naturalist guide and whale expert Anne Gordon de Barrigon’s, which respects the whales and follows all regulations and safety steps to ensure the whales are treated with respect. Married to a true Emberra Indian from Panama, Anne practically started whale watching in Panama!
Panama might not figure number one among world whale watching destinations, but it should! Home to so many tourist attractions, humpback whales are one more reason to visit beautiful Panama. Get ready for a WHALE of a time!!