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You Can Easily Whale Watch From Your Balcony at These 10 Hotels in Mexico and Hawaii

Migrating whales are on the move. And at properties in Mexico and Hawaii, a whale of a time can be had in just your bathrobe and slippers as you watch cetaceans transit along the coast.

People promised me I wouldn’t even have to head offshore to see whales in Baja California Sur if I visited during the winter and spring months. But I could hardly prepare to see so many of the migrating mammals right from the balcony and beach of my hotel that I would become, dare I say, accustomed to their blowing and breaching antics.

During a recent stay at Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas in Cabo San Lucas, I had barely wiped the sleep from my eyes before the synchronized blows of a passing humpback and her baby greeted me as I stepped out onto the balcony.

By the time I’d seen a breach or plume of water for the tenth time in ten minutes, I even stopped reaching for my phone to try to capture it, just taking a seat, sipping of my coffee, and doing what is perhaps easier to do here than almost anyplace on Earth—watch whales from the comfort of your hotel room, with no seasickness required.

Read on for a few hotels in Baja California Sur, Puerto Vallarta, and Hawaii where migrating humpback whales (and sometimes gray whales and even blue whales) cruise so close to the coast on their annual migrations, you hardly need to set foot on a boat to see them.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All-Inclusive Golf & Spa
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Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All-Inclusive Golf & Spa

WHERE: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Free whale watching from one of the many onsite restaurants, oceanfront pool, or even your hotel room balcony is included in the all-inclusive rates at the luxurious Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All-Inclusive Golf & Spa Resort, located in the tourist corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. By the time you rise and shine to greet the morning, chances are the whale-watching boats will already be plying the coastline just in front of the hotel’s stretch of Shipwreck Beach, taking paying customers close to frolicking humpbacks. Try not to feel too smug as you sip a margarita poolside and enjoy pretty much the same show right from the shore.

INSIDER TIPThe hotel’s lobby bar is one of the highest perches on the property, which tumbles down cacti-covered cliffs, and is a great place to watch the whales.

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PHOTO: Keenan Shoal/Los Colibris Casitas
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Los Colibris Casitas

WHERE: Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Travelers who book a glamping adventure on Espiritu Santo Island in the Sea of Cortez with Todos Santos Eco Adventures to Camp Cecil often tack on a few extra days to stay on the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula in the artsy surf enclave of Todos Santos. Here, you can whale watch from the infinity-edge pool or your casita balcony at the exquisite hideaway of Los Colibris Casitas, also owned by Todos Santos Eco Adventures, where seven private casitas hover on the cliff’s edge, with 180-degree ocean views. The humpbacks usually arrive along the coastline in mid-October and can still be seen passing by into April, with February the peak month for seeing so many cetaceans it might look like a game of whack a mole out on the ocean.

INSIDER TIPAsk the owners, a Mexican and American couple, to point the way to a steep trail down to a stretch of empty beach below the property, where you can do more whale watching from the golden sands.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
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The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta

WHERE: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The whale watching season slows down by late March in Puerto Vallarta, but even in the weeks that follow there’s still a chance of spotting spouts and enormous splashes from a whale that’s just jumped for joy not too far from your room at The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta. All of the hotel’s 280 rooms have ocean-facing balconies, which means your chances for seeing humpbacks with your morning cuppa are as good as any other guest’s. Some suites come with private pools and balcony jacuzzis, which elevate the WFH (Whalewatching From Home) experience that much more.

INSIDER TIPFor something romantic and even closer to any potential whale spotting, ask the concierge to arrange a sunset picnic for you on the sand.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

WHERE: Big Island, Hawaii

Fronting one of Hawaii’s few white sand beaches at Kauna’oa Bay, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel inspires with its mid-century design and collection of Asian Pacific art—and when passing humpbacks surface in the bay in front of the hotel, aromatic mai tai in your hand, there are few settings more serene. The whales can usually be seen passing by between November and early May—just make sure you book one of the oceanfront rooms to take full advantage. Or better yet, settle in and stay awhile at the Mauna Kea Residences, where two to seven-bedroom accommodations are the perfect excuse to linger longer in Hawaii—or, at the very least, through the end of whale watching season.

INSIDER TIPCan’t get enough of Hawaii’s marine life? The hotel can arrange nighttime snorkeling excursions to see manta rays.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
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The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kāʻanapali

WHERE: Lahaina, Maui

Oceanfront on Kāʻanapali Beach on Maui, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kāʻanapali is fresh from a $120 million upgrade that includes the newly renovated Hōkūpaʻa at The Westin Maui, a luxury beachfront tower of guest rooms with an emphasis on wellbeing. And while the passing humpbacks you can spot out front of the resort couldn’t care less about the newly refreshed, 214 guest rooms with views of the ocean, just seeing them from this serene setting is sure to inspire a sense of wellbeing in you.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas
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Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas

WHERE: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

It’s hard to imagine a more glorious stretch of beach in all of Cabo than the one fronting Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas, a sprawling property with a beachfront Greg Norman golf course that lies outside the main tourist fray on the Pacific Ocean side of Cabo San Lucas. The whales seem to enjoy the rugged beauty here as a backdrop, too, if their presence in numbers is any indication. During a recent stay, I spied a breaching or spouting whale between nearly every sip of my morning coffee from the oceanfront balcony in one of the resort’s three-bedroom suites, which come with full kitchens and access to one of the resort’s quieter beachfront pools. At golden hour, I’d walk down to the beach and usually have it all to myself—except for the passing whales marking their presence with the sound of their briny blows.

INSIDER TIPIf you want to get out for a closer look with the whales, Dive Ninja Expeditions runs small group boat tours that leave from the marina in Cabo San Lucas.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts
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Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort

WHERE: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

With a cascades-down-the-hillside aesthetic and a color palette of burnt oranges and reds for a feel-good contrast with the ocean’s deep sapphire blue, there’s something Italian Riviera-esque about this Cabo San Lucas resort. But one thing the all-inclusive Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort has that you won’t find included along the Amalfi Coast is regularly transiting humpback whales and their offspring from October into April. And while your oceanfront balcony is as good as any spot on the property to watch them from, it’s pretty tempting to escape to one of the cabanas right on the sand, where the primal pound of the ocean paired with intermittent whale watching is as intimate as any ocean experience gets.

INSIDER TIPAsk for one of the resort’s golf carts to take you to the Quivira Clubhouse at the famed Quivira Golf Club for lunch for killer ceviche and calamari.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa
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JW Marriott Los Cabos

WHERE: San Jose del Cabo

With the Sea of Cortez buffered by clean-lined design at every turn, the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa has a way of framing water views to spectacular effect from almost anyplace you find yourself at the resort—whether that’s from your room’s balcony, one of several infinity pools set just back from the sand dunes, or from a fire pit piled with volcanic rocks. Find the cadre that best suits you and your Instagram dreams, train your sights on the Sea of Cortez, and settle in for the shoreside whale watching spectacular.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re visiting on a Thursday, it’s worth heading into San Jose de Cabo’s center to stroll the atmospheric weekly art walk (November to June) that takes over the streets around the main square.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Viceroy Los Cabos
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Viceroy Los Cabos

WHERE: San Jose del Cabo

There are so many eye-popping aesthetics at the Viceroy Los Cabos, where views of the Sea of Cortez dazzle from every vantage point and the guest rooms hover within buildings that appear to float over a centerpiece lagoon. This makes it all the more amazing that the property looks even better under the cover of darkness when the nest-like restaurant called Nido glows like an oversized woven wonder below the hotel’s airy lobby. Daytime revelers at the beachfront pools can’t help but take a break from their vibing and margaritas to slacken their jaws at the sight of migrating humpbacks and gray whales.

INSIDER TIPListen to the bellhops when they tell you the best local seafood experience in San Jose del Cabo is at Mariscos El Toro Güero, a no-frills Baja chain that does the best aguachiles (raw marinated shrimp) and fresh octopus and oysters for less than you’d pay for a cocktail at the hotel.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos
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Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos

WHERE: San Jose del Cabo

As your Artisan (aka butler) gives you the lay of the land from on high in the breezy reception space, don’t be surprised if plumes of water rising from Sea of Cortez distract you (however momentarily) from Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos’ impressive architectural details. It’s just more whales, of course, doing their migratory thing in the hotel’s front yard, which is exclusively landscaped with desert plants and cacti endemic to Baja California.

INSIDER TIPEven if you’re not the spa type, Solaz’s Ojo de Liebre spa is not to be missed and takes its stunningly modern design inspiration from the Sea of Cortez’s most elemental elements, including humpback whales.

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