Puerto Lpez Mateos

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Protected by the barrier island of Isla Magdalena, Puerto López Mateos is one of Baja's best whale-watching sites. The bay is narrow here, so you don't have to travel as far by boat to see the whales. Boca de Soledad, only a short distance north of the port, boasts the highest density of whales anywhere along the peninsula. It's also a great place for sea kayaking: compared with Puerto San Carlos to the south, there are plenty of spots to launch along the shore, the bay is more sheltered and there are fewer commercial boats.

Because of the bay's narrowness, you can see the whales from the shore, but the best way to view them is by hiring a panga and hitting the water. Two boat cooperatives, the Unión de Lancheros Turísticos (% 131-5178) and the Sociedad Cooperativa Aquendi (% 1315115) run whale-watching trips from the pier. Trips cost about US$70 per hour for up to six persons.

Free camping, with pit toilets only (bring water), is possible at Playa Soledad. People often arrive and camp here so they can head out early for whale-watching the following morning. It's therefore usually easy to form groups to share expenses.

The town has a few basic but tidy lodgings. Closest to the pier, Posada Ballena López (Rodriguez 219; s/d US$18/22) offers four basic rooms with shared bathroom. Posada Tornavuelta (% 613131-5106; Rodriguez; r US$23-28) is a step up, with simple rooms with private bathroom.

Besides a few adequate taco stands, Puerto López Mateos has several good seafood restaurants around town, including the popular Cabaña Brisa (seafood mains US$6-12).

GETTING THERE & AWAY

Puerto López Mateos lies 32km (20 miles) west of Ciudad Insurgentes by a paved road. Autotransportes Aguila provides daily buses to/from Ciudad Constitución (US$4.50, one hour).

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