Beyond the Beaches: Get Up Close and Personal with Mexico’s Wildlife

Both on land and by sea, Mexico has a rich ecosystem home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.


With an impressive reef system on the east, and what Jacques Cousteau calls the “Aquarium of the World” on the west,¬†the natural wonders that exist beneath the seas surrounding Mexico are easy to access but hard to forget! ¬† Dolphins, mantarays, tropical fish, reef sharks, and sea lions are some of the marine wildlife in Mexico, but the true highlights are gray whales, sea turtles and whale sharks.
Some of the world‚Äôs best whale watching happens here in Mexico. The Pacific Gray Whales migrate thousands of¬†miles every year from the frigid waters the Bering Sea off of Alaska’s coast to the warm, protected lagoons of the Baja Peninsula. This journey is the longest known mammal migration in the world and draws nature and whale watching enthusiasts and novices alike from around the world.

These great animals have been hunted nearly to extinction for hundreds of years but with Journey Mexico, you’ll interact with conversationalists to learn about what is being done to preserve these incredible creatures and their mating grounds. Prepare yourself for an up close meeting with these magnificent creatures and experience whale watching in Mexico, one of the world’s most memorable wildlife encounters.

The whale shark is the world’s largest living fish.  Their narrow mouths extends across the full width of a flattened head and they are harmless and even curious about human beings.  These mighty whale sharks can be seen off of the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, near Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Isla Contoy in the open waters  in the Caribbean Ocean. On the Pacific Coast, the whale sharks swim near the state of Oaxaca and in the Sea of Cortez.  A swim with a whale shark will make even the biggest admirer feel small in comparison!

For generations, sea turtles have played a key role in Mexican culture in native coastal communities.  In addition, they have provided a significant part of the livelihood of a large number of coastal fishermen. In the past 20 years, a combination of factors, including unlimited exploitation, the low percentage of hatchlings which survive to adulthood, and environmental degradation, have resulted in the turtles becoming endangered in Mexico.  The Mexican Government in partnership with the NGO community and private businesses has been working hard to protect Mexican Sea Turtles through out the country.  There are currently sea turtle preservation programs on the Baja Peninsula and up and down the Pacific Coast that offer extraordinary up close experiences for interested travelers, like the Magdalena Bay Sea Turtle Monitoring Camp!  Hatchling releases, sea turtle monitoring, and open ocean sea turtle viewings allow visitors to witness these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat while ensuring their presence for generations to come.Wildlife Encounters in Baja California Sur - RED/Journey Mexico



In addition to underwater, the jungles of Mexico and tropical forest provide a healthy habitat for an diverse number of wildlife, plants, and birds on land; and in central Mexico the monarch butterflies captivate any visitor. The Monarchs Butterflies embark on an annual migration to Mexico that is unmatched by any other butterfly in the world.  Starting in October, just east of the Rocky Mountains, these graceful creatures float the wind currents to the forests high in the mountains of Michoacan and the State of Mexico.  They travel much farther than all other butterflies, up to 4,000 miles, and amazingly, they fly to the same wintering spot, often to the exact same oyamel tree. Still a mystery to humans, somehow the butterflies navigate their way every year even though the butterflies returning to Mexico each fall are the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous spring! The annual cycle spans five whole generations! In Mexico, the wintering grounds are protected sanctuaries by UNESCO World Heritage which contribute to the conservation efforts of these lovely, delicate creatures.
Morelia Magic Migration Butterflies
Birdwatching in Mexico is a birdwatchers paradise.  North to south, east to west, the diversity and plenitude of the birds of Mexico has been a draw for experts for years.  In Northern Mexico, we can see wild parrots, Roseate Spoonbills, McCaws and Trogansand to name a few.  Move a little west and across the Sea of Cortez and you find yourself in Osprey territory and in the company of the Baja Peninsula’s family of Cormorants (seabirds).  Further south into the Bay of Banderas and you will be easily surrounded by the cries of the 317 bird species that live along the coast of Puerto Vallarta.  Banderas Bay still harbors some of the last remaining populations of Green Macaws in the world.  On the Gulf Coast, if you time your trip right, you can see twenty species of raptors sail over Veracruz, including turkey vultures, Swainson’s hawks, Mississippi kites, and Kestrels, which are dynamic little falcons. Most of the hawks are broadwings traveling from the eastern United States to wintering areas from Mexico to Brazil.  In Southern Mexico, bird watchers revel in the sightings in El Triunfo in Chiapas, Calakmul in Campeche, and Celestun,  Rio Lagartos, and  Sian Ka’an in Quintana Roo/Yucatan Peninsula.

Ready to interact with the wildlife of Mexico?

If you’re interested in traveling to Mexico to experience the wildlife upclose and personal, browse our sample itineraries below or¬†¬†contact Journey Mexico today.

Private Tour to Swim with Whale Sharks – Live the thrilling experience of swimming next to the biggest fish in the planet, the Whale Shark, off the coast near to Cancun in the open waters of the Mexican-Caribbean Sea.

Monarch Butterfly Migration РWitness the natural phenomenon of the Monarch Butterfly migration at the UNESCO World Heritage Butterfly Reserves and learn about a variety of historical and cultural features that are unique to the region while also visiting several charming nearby towns like Patzcuaro and Santa Clara del Cobre.

Sea Turtles and Whale Watching –¬†Explore the protected lagoons of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez, allowing for magnificent encounters with marine wildlife.¬†The tour combines Journey Mexico‚Äôs signature high quality tours with the internationally recognized work of the Groupo Tortuguero to create a meaningful experience for both our guests and the communities and environments they visit!

Wildlife Encounters in Baja California Sur (Sustainable) –¬†Travel to¬†places visited by few outsiders ¬†for authentic¬†¬†interaction with the wildlife of the Sea of Cortez. Whale watching, mule trekking, sea-turtle monitoring, swimming with sea lions, tropical fish and dolphins, whale shark spotting, and migratory bird sightings make up much of the activities; complemented by a close interaction with the people and traditional culture of the region.


Read more… Mexico’s Top Wildlife Adventure

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