12 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins. An Amazing Bucket List Experience
Swimming with dolphins should be on everybody’s bucket list. These wonderful creatures are brilliant and playful. Their presence has a soothing effect on anxious and stressed individuals. Both children and adults will feel at one with nature and its gifts after spending a few hours in the company of these wonderful aquatic mammals.
To develop my daughter’s love for the environment, but also to give her a surprise for her 12th birthday, I decided to organize a trip to Marmaris, Turkey. The resort is home to the Turkish Institute of Dolphin Therapy which offers the visitors the chance to swim with dolphins in the sea.
The areas I have list below are located around the world and provide numerous opportunities to interact with these most special beings that populate the seas and the oceans.
For an adventurous and extraordinary break from your daily routine, you should consider add these to your bucket list:
1. Madeira or the Spring Island, Portugal
The area has constant temperatures and lush vegetation all year round; hence its nickname. A visit to this Portuguese Paradise is not complete without an up close and personal encounter with the dolphins and whales which make Madeira famous.
For the less adventurous, there are aquariums where knowledgeable guides give information on marine life. Boats may take you away from the shore to the places where dolphins swim carefree. There you dive in the salty sapphire waters and become part of a parallel universe.
Tip: if you are not too intrusive the dolphins will get close to you, they will “communicate” with you and even perform spontaneous, high, synchronized jumps.
2. Dolphins’ Reef, Eilat Israel
At a stone’s throw from the chaotic streets of Eilat, you will find the Underwater Observatory belonging to the Marine Park. It’s quiet and multi-colored attracts tourist and researches likewise. Divers swim idly among the abundant fish population and even sharks.
Good to know: the beach which surrounds the Dolphins’ Bay is a bit rocky; this is a minor inconvenience when considering the enchanted world hidden beneath the waves.
The sooner you submerge underwater, you are surrounded by shoals of fish and swaying algae. Friendly dolphins come out of nowhere and join you along your trip through glistening coral.
You are allowed to practice snorkeling or dive with the dolphins only if you go through a training session with the local instructors.
This area gets crowded during holidays and at the weekends. Thus, you should book your adventure two weeks in advance.
3. Tangalooma, Australia
Placed in the heavenly surroundings of Moreton Island, Tangalooma is a tranquil and sandy resort worth escaping to.
Land and water based activities satisfy a wide range of tastes. Boredom is out of the question in an area where you can:
You should not leave the resort without having fed the dolphins. They are used to humans but do not expect domesticated creatures which will perform tricks for you.
Each of these finned “free spirits” has a one-of-a-kind personality and specific behavior. Calypso, Betts, Cruze, Nari, Luna, Shadow, Sprite, and the other members of the “gang” are friendly, independent and bold.
The devoted Eco rangers supervise the entire feeding program. They make sure that all visitors comply with the feeding guidelines and dolphins are not disturbed.
Things good to know about dolphin feeding activity:
There are specific rules to follow when giving food to these amiable animals:
Visitors are not permitted to touch the dolphins. This measure has been taken to ensure the mammals a safe environment.
4. Anthony’s Key, Honduras
The resort is located on the paradisiac island of Roatán. The Institute for Marine Sciences gives lectures on underwater creatures and organizes live meetings with them.
Tip: curious guests can join the researchers while they tour the lagoon and study dolphins and their habits.
Dolphins here are not trained, and they all behave instinctively as you dive with them. For a more liberating experience, you can leave the lagoon for the open sea and join the pod.
Lots of children enlist for the scuba camp to spend six days with the smart underwater mammals. Adults prefer to learn more about how to become a dolphin trainer.
Why are the human-dolphin contacts so valuable? Employees at Anthony’s Key and not only are convinced that the “smiling” underwater mammals may be a cure for depression.
Researchers claim that the close connection between an animal and a person suffering from mental disorder may have positive effects on the latter.
Swimming with dolphins triggers a state of inner peace and well-being. Plus, it boosts the strength of the immune system, it stimulates attention, self-control, and confidence.
People become more interested in the environment and are willing to do more to preserve it.
5. Dolphin Plus Bayside, Florida Keys
Visitors to the bay may get interact with bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat. The well-trained staff know the answer to all the questions related to the aquatic population of the area.
Activities for the kids include:
Most adults opt for extended swimming sessions in the company of dolphins. Thus, they come to understand their place and importance for the marine ecosystems.
6. Tortola, The British Virgin Islands
Although this might be the first time you read about Tortola, it should not stop you from visiting the region. Bright sandy beaches and lush tropical forests cover the picturesque island. This paradisiac destination has lots of entertainment possibilities. They are all topped by the dolphin programs.
Here, you may:
It is a fantastic experience with the animals being protected and treated humanely.
7. Dolphin Cay, Bahamas
Dolphin Cay was set up to provide shelter to 17 dolphins whose home had been destroyed by the infamous Hurricane Katrina. It is an amazing location to connect with dolphins and enter a surreal aquatic universe.
The facilities here have as a primary purpose the tourists’ ecological education. Aquatic shows are not part of the menu, and the marine creatures enjoy the liberty provided by the eleven acre lagoon.
Most visitors go for the Swim in Wonder program which allows them to spend a full hour in the dolphins’ company.
Good to know: each group is accompanied by a professional photographer; thus, you needn’t worry about the perfect snap
What else to expect?
The center has got lots of surprises:
The dedicated staff will also show you how to feed the aquatic mammals and how to observe their rituals without being intrusive.
Tip: booking in advance brings you a special discount
8. Oahu, Hawaii
There are lots of places and companies which put forward unforgettable diving with dolphins’ experiences.
Dolphin Excursions stands out because the tours are planned by marine researchers and biologists. You will join small groups of tourists and follow wild dolphins, whales, and turtles. The organizers claim, “not without a reason,” that their excursions have a very low impact on the environment.
The most popular is the itinerary which starts from the Waianae Harbor. You will have the chance to admire the spinner dolphins while they perform their renowned jumps. Plus, you will submerge in the blue waters to discover turtles and a myriad of exotic fish.
Warning Tip: for safety reason, only children over four years old are allowed to embark on this adventure.
Whales are easier to spot from December to March. They put up quite a show with their enormous tails slapping the waves and the males singing their mating tune.
Other family-run businesses specialized in swimming with wild dolphins have on their offer:
Guides are well-informed and have an answer for almost any question about this remarkable region.
9. Dolphin Research Center, Florida
This research and education establishment is focused on discovering and studying the mysteries of the salty waters nearby. The moment you enter the center’s premises, you will meet welcoming hosts and dolphin loving volunteers.
Opened since 1984, the center has had enough time to perfect its programs and recreational activities.
The cheeky dolphins are involved in:
Scientists at the center will take into their world and let you see how they go about their work. They observe not only the dolphins’ behavior, but also their mental state and wellbeing. Being a dolphin explorer is not dull at all as you will discover if you opt for this program.
Dolphin Labs are tailored for adults and teens. They last for seven days during which you attend seminars, lectures, and workshops. The best are the practical sessions which bring you in close contact with the finned inhabitants of the center. If you study hard enough, you might get college credits.
The camps are designed for children aged 10-12 and 13-14. The kids are introduced into the fantastic world of dolphins, sea lions, turtles, and reefs. The splash and the encounter sessions will teach them that nature’s creatures must not be feared but befriended.
Good to know: DRC Florida has come up with engaging programs for children with special educational needs.
Internships are available for those interested in pursuing a career in marine biology or other related fields.
10. Laguna Beach, California
Located in the south part of Orange County, this Californian settlement is a magnet for nature enthusiasts. The Laguna has perfect spots to watch the dolphins and the whales. You can get closer to them while surfing and snorkeling.
In case you decide to conquer the waves you must know:
Of course, scuba diving is only possible if you have a PADI certificate that proves your skills.
To enrich your understanding of the aquatic ecosystems, enter the Marine Mammal Center. Scientists and researchers have put up a rehabilitation facility where they bring wounded sea animals. The admission is free of charge.
Diver’s Cove is a five-star location for scuba and snorkeling; you needn’t worry about the equipment because there are lots of small shops where you may rent it.
Seal Rock is a gathering place much preferred by sea lions
Whales also come close to the Californian coast. Blue whales make their presence felt during the summer and the autumn months. Visitors may take awesome snaps of humpbacks or finback whales during cruises and safaris.
Did you know?
Laguna Beach is a genuine paradise for dolphins. Food is abundant while coves and reefs provide shelter. Research data have pointed out that you will find more “finned guys” here than in the Caribbean or in the waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula.
Locals are so passionate about marine life that they have got a Whaling Wall. This is a huge mural dedicated to the underwater universe signed by Wyland.
11. Monkey Mia, Australia
Monkey Mia reservation is not on the usual tourist track. You must drive 528 miles north from Perth to reach it. Set in a splendid World Heritage Area with red dunes and glittering beaches, the reserve should be on your travel bucket list.
The bottlenose dolphins and the program dedicated to their feeding are the top attractions. Although the local aquatic mammals have approached people for over 40 years, they are not coached for hugs or playing sessions.
How to feed the dolphins the proper way?
Lots of tourists wait on the shores of Monkey Mia for a chance to have direct contact with these aussie dolphins.
The Rangers take the visitors to the beach to explain them how to behave in the presences of dolphins. People are allowed to enter the water up to their knees. It is against the law to touch them even when they get very close to you.
Do not get upset if the Rangers do not pick you for the feeding process. Enjoy the scenery and the gracious moves of the wild dolphins.
For a great experience you have to:
In case you want to spend more time with these remarkable creatures you can enlist for the volunteer program. You can help the staff at the reserve for a maximum of two weeks. The requirements include:
After your bucket list session with these intelligent dophins, you should consider:
The Shark Bay and the protected land around it stretch for 5.4 million acres. You need to plan your trip with care to enjoy this gorgeous landscape.
12. The Island of Socorro, Mexico
Socorro is part of the Revillagigedo Archipelago which is under the jurisdiction of the Mexican state of Colima. Over 550 kilometers of salty water separate the island from Baja California.
Revillagigedo is an impressive reserve which has four islands. Surnamed “The Galápagos of Mexico,” the reserve is not inhabited by humans. The only exceptions are the naval bases. Commercial fishing was banned from the area in 2002.
The dolphins are welcoming and far from being shy. However, they are untamed creatures and will not make their appearance at your own wish.
Good to know: boat trips are organized from November to June; weather conditions do not favor excursion the rest of the year.
Tips for swimming with Socorro wild dolphins:
If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the distinctive “Dolphin Dance.”
An encounter with a dolphin may be a life-changing experience. When you opt for your destination, make sure that the aquatic creatures are treated in a responsible manner. The beauties of nature have to be cherished and respected.
Fancy a dive cage encounter with a Great White Shark?
You might want to check out our article on The 13 Best Places to Swim with Sharks. There are some other more gentle species of shark that you also might want to add to your bucket list
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