Magdalena Bay, or Bahía de Magdalena, lies along Baja California Sur’s western coast. The warm, mild waters of Bahía de Magdalena are protected by the barrier islands of Isla Santa Margarita and Isla Magdalena. These islands create a counter coastline so that Magdalena Bay isn’t hit with the powerful Pacific Ocean waves. At over 31 miles long, Magdalena Bay is the largest wetland ecosystem on Baja California’s western coast.
Magdalena Bay’s protected waters draw pods of gray whales every winter as they migrate from the north to mate. Although the gentle gray giants may be the bay’s most famous attraction, other wildlife seek shelter in the bay as well. Many sea birds find sanctuary in the large swathes of mangroves neighbor the bay as well. With its pristine waters and unparalleled whale sightings, Magdalena Bay has become a mecca for adventurists and wildlife enthusiasts. Despite its prominence as a biologically significant region, the bay has been coveted for more than its marine life.
As the entrance to the Pacific, Magdalena Bay also has strategic importance that has garnered international attention since the 19th century. Most prominently, the U.S. Navy has expressed interest in the bay. 16 American battleships made a stopover in the bay to practice their gunnery in 1908 after having an established history with the bay from leasing a coaling station there since 1868. Similarly, Germany and Japan attempted to establish bases in the bay. Some historical reports go so far as to state that submarines of the Japanese navy occasionally occupied the bay during WWII—hiding from sight by submerging their submarines during daytime.