One of the most popular activities in Florida is swimming with dolphins. That can’t be denied. Jumping into the water and interacting with these incredible sea creatures is fun for all ages. There are endless chances to swim with dolphins in the Sunshine State, and today we’re listing a few of our favorites. Some are in an aquarium, others are in the sea – but no matter where the meeting happens, you’ll never forget your first (or second, or third) time swimming with dolphins!
At Theater of the Sea, all the world’s a stage. But more specifically this show takes place on the ocean. An all day adventure will leave your family up close and personal with not only dolphins, but sea lions, tropical fish, parrots, sea turtles and many other exotic animals. Swim with the dolphins and observe their behavior as they play together and around you. Enjoy a bottomless boat ride where you can watch as the sea creatures frolic just below the surface.
Education rules the roost here at the Dolphin Research Center. Catering to all ages and abilities (including special needs programs), the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon is constantly innovating and improving their offerings. The most popular program is a painting collaboration with one of 22 local dolphins, including some descendants of Flipper! Participants create a colorfully abstract T-shirt that the dolphin decorates with water-based paints and a paintbrush it holds in its mouth. What a fun memory!
Bring the kids to Dolphins Plus where ages as young as 3 can enjoy an incredible mammal meet and greet. The Shallow Water Dolphin Encounter is a waist-deep dolphin interaction program where you can meet the dolphins up close and personal, while standing comfortably in waist deep water. You can experience interactive behaviors like body rubs, handshakes or kisses. Incredible!
Discover South Florida’s best aquarium and favorite visitor attraction. Enjoy amazing marine mammal shows with dolphins and sea lions that delight children of all ages. See world-class sea life exhibits with manatees, sea turtles, penguins, rays and more. Learn about wildlife rescue and marine animal care at the Conservation Outpost. Plus, there is no greater thrill than getting in the water with the friendly, intelligent and graceful dolphins at Dolphin Harbor. Don’t miss the Flipper Dolphin Show at this 50-plus-year-old classic Miami attraction.
Go where few can go and explore the lush waters of Southwest Florida on the gentle quietness of a kayak. Their guides have years of experience exploring hundreds of miles of back bays, aquatic preserves, wildlife refuges, creeks, bayous, rivers, and mangrove forests all in Southwest Florida. This will allow you to gain a rare and new perspective of the land and learn of its rich natural history.
Estero Bay, the section of Intracoastal Waterway that separates Fort Myers Beach from the mainland, is known for its wild dolphin population. There’s a strong chance for a dolphin encounter when taken into the area by the experience GAEA river guides. It’s a thrilling yet serene experience!
Are you ready for your one on one dolphin encounter? Head to Discovery Cove for a day you’ll never forget. The signature dolphin swim experience begins with your group meeting a dolphin in one of their crystal clear swimming areas. Next, one of the animal care specialists will teach you all about dolphin habits, behaviors, their incredible communication abilities, and the relationships they build on a daily basis with these incredible animals. After that, each group member will get a chance to individually interact with a dolphin and learn about that dolphin’s personality through behaviors. The finale of this intimate experience is an unforgettable swim with a dolphin including a dorsal fin tow back to the group. This experience can take place in shallow water or deeper water, and is entirely up to the guest. This resort also gives guests the opportunity to swim with dolphins in Florida, along with rays, tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds as well as participate in trainer-for-a-day programs.
Gorgeous Flagler Beach plays host to Marineland Dolphin Adventure, known as the world’s first oceanarium. Opened in 1938 under a different name, this site served as a filming location for movies with underwater scenes. The new park is now focused on animal experiences, with dozens of programs to connect humans with sea life, especially dolphins. With 1.3 million gallons of water to play in, there are programs to suit every age group or taste. There are even weddings held here!
Destin’s Original Dolphin Cruise is a relaxing 2 hour tour, as seen on National Geographic Explorer and CNN Earthwatch. Join in and cruise the pristine waters, along the sugar-white sand beaches of the Emerald Coast. Witness the Coastal Bottlenose Dolphin in their natural habitat. There’s nothing quite as striking as a glass bottom boat ride aboard the Southern Star. Dolphins love following behind the boat, jumping around and playing together. You’ll have a ton of fun wondering where they’ll be jumping to next! It’s a spontaneous, unpredictable event – so be sure to bring your camera and your patience!
Remember the movie Dolphin Tale? It starts a dolphin named Winter who lives here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and was successfully rehabilitated. This hospital specializes in rescue, rehab, and release protocols but offers so much wonderful interaction with these majestic creatures. Visitors choose from different experiences, including a poolside therapy session or feeding opportunity with live dolphins. Your family will also love meeting the otters, sharks, pelicans and more. Activities include boat and kayak tours as well as animal care experiences.