Panama the Route of the Humpback Whales

The humpback whales inhabit all world oceans. Each group moves in its own feeding and breeding area, year after year.

In the Pacific Southeast, there is a population that migrates from the Antarctic and Chile to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica, it’s the only migration that involves crossing the Equator.

Everything begins the last day of the year and goes on until March when they can be found in the Antarctic and the Chilean coasts where they feed and fill their fat deposits to have the energy for their great voyage. At the start of the summer, they begin their migration to the north towards tropical waters to start their reproduction cycle.

The route they take continues to be a mystery.  According to some investigations being made by the Smithsonian Institute for Tropical Investigations in Panama, the whales who are already mothers or are pregnant normally choose the coastal route, the longer route, in order to avoid their natural predators, the orcas, while adults without calves opt for the open sea route, the shorter one.

The coastal route has other kinds of dangers such as humans, fishing, and irresponsible tourism which make them vulnerable. Every year hundreds of them are beaten by boats and others get tangled up in the fishermen’s nets.

The mothers travel between 45 and 100 kilometers daily. Those without offspring are faster and can cover 130 kilometers. Each trip from north to south takes them between 50 to 70 days, covering around 16,000 kilometers in total. Can you imagine moving all year round? Without a doubt, it is the most adventurous mammal on Earth.

Panama Whale Watching Season

From mid-July these majestic giants start arriving in our waters here in Panama, to enjoy the warm sea and continue their reproductive process. Many calves are born here, especially in the Veraguas area, inside of Coiba National Park. Their offspring are born with low body fat and will not be able to endure the Antarctic cold waters. For these reasons, our tropical waters are the perfect refuge, they feel safe and secure to give birth and raise their young.

Off our coasts, the mothers teach their calves to swim and survive, and at the same time, they suckle to give them energy for the impending trip. The babies can consume as much as 100 liters of milk a day, while the mothers sing lovely lullabies to them.

The months of August and September is when they are most active, but they can be seen until November.

Responsible Cetacean Sighting

To guarantee that the whales will continue coming to Panamanian waters to give birth, every year, we need to be responsible and protect them. We need to be vigilant and follow these recommendations:

  1. Avoid getting too close to a female with young, although they are very tranquil, nobody knows what a mother will do to protect her calf.
  2. When you come to 300 meters distance from the whale, it is important to reduce the speed or even stop because the noise disturbs them.
  3. Never go 200 meters close to them. It is impossible to predict in which direction they will swim and you can collide with them.
  4. The safest way to approach them is in a parallel direction where you see them swimming. Never come close to them in a direct manner from the front or the back.
  5. Keep quiet at all times.
  6. Never try to swim or dive close to them.
  7. The whale watching time should not exceed 30 minutes and only 15 if is a mother with her calf.
  8. Do not throw rubbish into the sea. Even the trash we throw in the streets finally reaches the sea and harms it.
  9. Large ships must remain outside the two kilometers distance.

Visit Veraguas soon and experience the “Giants of the Water”.

Humpback Whales - The Oceans Travellers
It is an acrobatic animal, they love to jump out of the water, often breaching and slapping the water and perform acrobatic twirls. Males produce a complex whale song that lasts up to 20 minutes and repeats it together for hours.

Panama Best Places for Whale Sightings:

Whale Watching is not a guaranteed activity since we depend on the whims of these beautiful animals and some would say that even lucky to be in the right place and time. By witnessing these majestic creatures in their wild habitat, you can get an intimate look at their natural behavior that is unlike any other.

When we leaving the Gulf of Montijo, we have a number of places where we can have an opportunity to appreciate them, our first choice is between Gobernadora Island and Cebaco. We can go further south and reach back to Caleta Caiman or take more west to Santa Catalina and even enter the waters of Coiba National Park.

The coasts of Pedasí and around Isla Iguana are other “Hot Spot” where you can live the experience, a short distance from the coast, sometimes even seen from the shore of the beaches.

Panama has so many amazing whale watching locations all over the Pacific coast. Some of the most popular destinations include Taboga Islands, Archipiélago de las Perlas and Gulf of Chiriquí.

The Panama Whale Watching Experience

Aside from humpback whales, we can spot other species of cetaceans on Panama whale watching tours. These include blue whales, minke whales, whale sharks, sperm whales, and even orca whales. Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphins also make frequent appearances, swimming and jumping beside our boat. Additional marine life that you might sight along the turquoise coastline includes manta rays, four sea turtle species, and a wide range of exotic fish like a yellowfin tuna school that may delight us when they hunting their food.

We also offer some great & wild white sand beaches of Panama, grace with crystal clear waters, and palm tree-laden tropical islands where you can listen to monkeys over the trees, epic snorkeling, extensive coral reefs, and amazing underwater life.


We leave the Bongo de Montijo, 24 km from the city of Santiago, at the time agreed with you, preferably at 6:00 am.

The first half-hour we will visit the imposing San Pedro River, surrounded by exuberant nature, mangroves, migratory birds, and the mouth of other important rivers of the area, forming the Gulf of Montijo Wetland of International Importance, which has an extension of 89 thousand 452 hectares of marine and land area, protected by law since July 1994.

Leaving the borders of the Gulf of Montijo, we will always see in front of us the Gobernadora Island, to the left the Island of Cebaco. Approximately half an hour later we will have reached our first possible meeting place with humpback whales.

This tour can be a single day (Day Tour) or stay a few days if you like and stay at the Cebaco Pacific Lodge or Cebaco Sunrise, located on Cebaco Island or on the mainland in Santa Catalina with more than 30 hotels options. We have super discounts for Multi-day Tours.

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