According to an article on BBC News called Whale-watching ‘worth billions’, the whale-watching industry generates about $2.1B annually. Whale-watching is an incredible way to get close to wildlife, and we’re excited to inform travelers that there are amazing opportunities to witness these giant sea mammals near Isla Palenque in Panama. (In fact, according to Cedar, you can occasionally see whales breaching from the main beach of the island itself.)
You find the best whale-watching opportunities during October and November, when multiple sightings are basically guaranteed. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to go out during those months and look for them. However, last July, about halfway into a scuba trip to Secas (about 25 minutes from Isla Palenque), our captain spotted some whales. We got closer and saw 3 whales breaching repeatedly for about 15 minutes, along with 2 or 3 dolphins. They must have all been feeding on something in the area. We got within 50 feet of them and stayed there for a good 5 minutes before feeling we needed to back off — being that close to breaching whales can get pretty frightening.
It was an amazing experience — I’d always kind of pooh-poohed the idea of whale-watching, so I was surprised at just how impressive it seemed. And while I thought I was getting some pretty good pictures, none of them do justice to the experience (it’s especially hard to get the timing right). But I’ll post this one anyway. You can see two whales at different stages in their breaching:
According to the captain, in October and November, you can often find spots where you see this level of activity in 3-5 different places at once. I’m looking forward to having the time on one of my trips to Panama this year. Maybe I’ll be able to post a better picture next time around; then again, maybe it’s just something you need to experience.