Cabo Pulmo, Mexico


Cabo Pulmo is located at the south-eastern end of the Baja California Peninsula and was declared a federally protected National Marine Park in 1995. It protects the northernmost coral reef in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which is estimated to be 20,000 years old. In the years since the National Park was established, the total amount of fish has increased by an amazing 460%.

Supported by the whole community, Cabo Pulmo is a role model for other coastal states, showing that a transition from fishing to marine conservation is possible. For this reason, it was appointed a candidate for the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.

The marine area adjacent to the Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to the greatest number of cetacean species in Mexico and is also an important breeding area for female humpback whales and calves. The Candidate WHS is characterised by a narrow continental shelf, meaning that both coastal and oceanic environments can be found close to shore. Together with the area’s distinct seasons, it offers a range of habitats for cetaceans, which is why an incredible variety of more than 30 different cetacean species call these waters their home.

Travelling to this Candidate WHS will help to support Cabo Pulmo’s incredible journey towards sustainability and marine conservation.

At a glance

Where is it:

Region –  Latino America

Country – Mexico

Area/State – Baja California Sur

Cetacean species:

  • Common minke whale
  • Sei whale
  • Bryde’s whale
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Humpback whale
  • Gray whale
  • Sperm whale
  • Orca
  • Spinner dolphin
  • And 20 more cetacean species

When to see them:

  • All year round

The Destination


The Candidate site covers from the northern tip of Ensenada de Muertos and drawing a line up to 5 km east of the extreme northeast of the Cabo Pulmo national park polygon, and then south parallel to the coastline of the peninsula and continues following the shape of the peninsula to coordinates N 23.0688 O -109.6413 in the area known as “El Ranchito”, located northwest of San José del Cabo. The candidate site has an area of 1535Km².

What makes Cabo Pulmo a Candidate Whale Heritage Site?


Each Whale Heritage Site has a unique route to meeting the criteria set out by the WCA. Check out some of the highlights from the Candidate site Cabo Pulmo:

Cabo Pulmo has become the marine area with the highest concentration of fish in the Gulf of California and is a worldwide example of sustainability and marine conservation with community participation. The entire transformation of Cabo Pulmo was made possible by the support of the local community. Scientists, the federal government, private and civil society have come together and worked together successfully for the conservation of this place and its resources.

Cabo Pulmo has shifted its economic focus to tourism services. Scuba diving and free diving at the reef are the foundation, and some operators also offer whale and dolphin watching. Tour operators need a special permit for their activities, and only accredited guides and boat captains can provide tourist services in the park. There is a potential to further develop the whale watching sector, and training will be provided not only for tour operators but also the entire community on good whale watching practices. This is part of a mandatory protocol to ensure a respectful way of manoeuvring around the cetaceans.

The Natural Protected Area is celebrated annually with environmental education activities, sports and a cultural programme.

There are campaigns for recycling, community awareness, and beach clean-ups.

The Community Outreach Programme involves locals in decision making about the use of the territory.

Cetacean research has been carried out in the area for more than 30 years. Other coral reef, fish and shark monitoring programmes generate data for science and action for local and regional marine conservation.

Educational activities in the community and schools have been carried out.

Cabo Pulmo has an interpretative centre, Centro de Visitantes e Interpretación de la Naturaleza del Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, which opened in 2017. This project promotes a greater appreciation of the area’s natural attributes among visitors and locals, as well as highlighting the importance of conserving and making sustainable use of its resources. Free of charge for visitors, it offers a biodiversity museum, (online) talks and workshops.


Who is leading the process locally?


Cabo Pulmo National Park – CONANP

University of Baja California – UABCS

Progress Towards Certification

  1. Application submitted and Candidate status awarded.
  1. Engaging with key stakeholders and local community.


  1. Steering committee being formed.


  1. Working on final application.
  1. Final application submitted and under review.