Dolphins

Dolphine in Florida

Shiny, streamlined bodies, joyful chatter and faces that always seem to smile – it is no wonder that dolphins are among the most beloved animals.

Visitors in Florida are lucky: The marina mammals are a common sight here. Whether in zoos or aquariums, at the beach or on boat tours – in this article, we will share the best spots to go dolphin watching in Florida. In addition, you will learn how to swim with dolphins in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s Dolphins – important Facts

More than 40 dolphin species populate the earth’s oceans, from the Arctic Circle to the tropics. Florida’s waters are home to bottlenose dolphins: true all-rounders that roam the sea in schools of up to 1.000 individuals.

On a boat tour, you only have to watch out for curved dorsal fins protruding from the water. If you are lucky, you might even see the animals jump up to 20 ft high. Why they do so has not been fully understood yet; many experts think dolphins jump out of the water to better survey their surroundings.

Bottlenose dolphins use clicking and whistling sounds to communicate with other members of their school. The species shows remarkable social behavior – likely a reason why they have been able to conquer so many habitats. Not only do dolphins care for their injured brethren. They also work together as a team when hunting for fish, squid or seals – a sign of extraordinary intelligence.

Dolphin Watching in Florida – the best Locations

Whether in the north or the south, on the east or west coast of the state – in Florida, dolphins are never far away. If you want to see the animals, you have the following options:

In the Wild

Dolphins populate the entire coast of the state. In some places, you can even see them from the beach: for example, on Sanibel and Captiva Island with their coastal waters harboring schools of up to 1.000 animals. Waterways like Blind Pass and Matanzas Pass off Cape Coral’s coast are teeming with fish, so dolphins love to swim there, too.

More popular dolphin spots include:

  • Estero Bay betweenEstero Island and Fort Myers Beach
  • Biscayne Bay, south of Miami
  • Marco Island, south of Naples
  • Indian River, central east coast
  • Destin Island between Pensacola and Panama City Beach
  • Florida Keys.

By the way: If you do not want to rent a boat, you can book one of the many dolphin tours. These will take you to the best dolphin spots the state has to offer, and can also be combined with a snorkeling trip. Alternatively, take a Sunset Tour and watch dolphins against the backdrop of Florida’s glowing sky.

Depending on the company and the duration of the trip, you should plan to spend 47–71 USD per person. Chartering a tour boat for your entire group costs about 230 USD.

Zoos and Aquariums

You can also see Florida’s dolphins in zoos and aquariums where they entertain spectators with skillful tricks.

The world’s largest dolphinarium is located at SeaWorld, Orlando. There, a whopping 140 animals populate the aquarium’s Dolphin Cove. The enclosures have been designed to perfectly represent their natural habitats and also feature glass walls: This way, you can watch dolphins underwater and listen to their friendly chatter.

On the other side of the peninsula, the Clearwater Marina Aquarium houses the stars of the movie “Dolphin Tale”. All seven dolphins living there were found injured or stranded, and have since been raised back to health. Dolphin girl “Hope” was even given a prosthetic dorsal fin.

Located further north in Panama City Beach is the Gulf World Marine Park. Here, you can watch the animals perform stunts and learn more about their diet during the dolphin-feeding shows.

Dolphin Swimming in Florida

Have you always wanted to step into the pool with Flipper’s friends? Then, why not fulfill this dream in Florida? There is hardly a place on earth with so many possibilities to go dolphin swimming.

The choice is yours: Do you want enjoy the classic dolphin swimming in deep water? Then, expect to pay 210–240 USD per person. The experience usually lasts for 30 minutes and also includes an interesting introduction given by a dolphin trainer. For small children and non-swimmers, Florida’s aquariums offer encounters in shallow water or on land. These are available for as little as 35 USD.

Most places offer the same, or at least similar activities. However, there are some special dolphin encounters in Florida that are worth pointing out:

  • While dolphin swimming usually takes place in man-made pools, “Dolphin Plus” on Key Largo offers encounters in a natural saltwater lagoon.
  • At the Dolphin Research Center, Dolphin Plus and the Theater of the Sea, you can have your T-shirt painted by a dolphin – the perfect souvenir.
  • If you are looking for comparably cheap prices, you should go dolphin swimming at the Marineland St. Augustine – a less well-known aquarium in the north of Florida.
  • More bargains can be struck at the Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach. There, the trained animals will push you out of the water with their snouts – exciting fun, especially for children.

GCV

Hello, I am Sascha the owner and manager of GCV - Gulf Coast Vacation. I welcome you to our website and hope that you like at least one of our beautiful houses. Together with my team we make sure every day that our guests feel comfortable in our vacation homes. If you have any questions please write us a message! If you would like to make a booking request you can use the booking form quickly and easily. We try to answer your request as soon as possible.We would be very happy to welcome you as our guest soon, until then we wish you all the best, your Sascha.

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