The Best Place to See Dolphins In Florida

Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals on Earth, with a brain-body ratio that is second only to humans. It is a life-altering experience to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment.

It’s no surprise that many people consider dolphin sightings in the wild a top priority on their bucket lists. It is a very humble experience.

Although there are 44 species of dolphins left in the wild today, some have been endangered. The dolphins can be endangered by human activity like fishing or environmental destruction.

Florida is a great place to view these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Dolphins live in Florida’s warm, clear waters all year. You are almost certain to see wild dolphins on a boat trip in Florida.

Types of Dolphins Found in Florida

There are nine types of dolphins that can be found in Florida waters. These are the most common Florida dolphins that you will encounter.

Bottlenose Dolphin

The bottlenose dolphin is the most popular type of Florida dolphin. The bottlenose dolphin can grow to 6-12 feet in length and is usually grey.

The world’s most popular species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, is still found in approximately 600,000. These magnificent creatures, often mistakenly called porpoises due to their long beaks, are easily recognizable.

Porpoises are an entirely different animal species, did you know?

The bottlenose dolphin can be found both onshore and offshore. It is the most easy type of dolphin to spot. They must come up for air every two minutes, but they can hold their breath underwater for up to twelve minutes.

Common Dolphin

Common dolphins (Delphinus Delphis), can be found off the coast Florida. Both short-beaked and longer-beaked common dolphins can be found off the coast of Florida. The difference is in the length of the beak. A shorter fin and flippers are also found on the short-beaked common dolphin.

Common dolphins are smaller than bottlenose dolphins and have beautiful markings on both their sides. They measure between 7.5 to 8.5 feet in length.

Common dolphins are more likely to be seen offshore than near shore. A boat tour is the best way to spot common dolphins.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

You can see the Atlantic spotted dolphin at certain times of year. This dolphin is slightly darker than the bottlenose, and is easily identifiable by its spotted markings.

As a dolphin gets older, the spotted markings become more prominent. Dolphins can live up to 25 years without being seen again!

The beaks of the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin are longer than those of the bottlenose dolphins and usually have a white tip. An Atlantic Spotted Dolphin can live with up to 50 other members. They can often be seen living with other dolphin species.

Spinner Dolphin

This dolphin’s ability to spin on its tail and perform amazing maneuvers is what makes it unique. They are smaller than other types of dolphins. They measure between 4.6 to 6.8 feet in length.

Spinner dolphins may have a curved dorsal or triangular fin. They are dark grey on the back and grey on their sides, with a white belly.

Did you know that individual dolphins can be identified using their dorsal fins? Find out more interesting facts about dolphins.

What is the best time to see dolphins in Florida?

Dolphins can be seen in Florida year-round due to the warm climates, warm waters and Gulf of Mexico.

Dolphins are most active between sunrise and mid-morning. Dolphins are most active during this time because they are looking for food.

You can see dolphins in Florida’s wild at any hour of the day, but it is best to visit them in the morning.

The Best Place to See Dolphins In Florida

These majestic mammals can be found all along Florida’s coast. Are you unsure where to look? These are the top spots:

Marco Island and Naples

A feeding ground is located in Marco Island. This makes Marco Island one of the best places to see dolphins in Florida. This area is home to many mullets. Dolphins love mullet!

Dolphins are often found in the Marco Island area due to its diversity of food. You can almost guarantee to see dolphins no matter what time of the day you visit.

This area is home to a wide range of wildlife, including manatees.

Marco Island is a paradise island with some of the most rare shells in Florida. You will have the rare opportunity to hunt these shells if you book a Marco Island dolphin cruise.

You’ll have the opportunity to discover some of the most beautiful areas on Marco Island, as well as learn about its fascinating history.

Did you know that Marco Island, Florida’s largest island is number ten thousand? Fun fact: Clam digging used to be the top economic activity in the region.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is another popular spot for dolphins in Florida. For those who wish to see the dolphins in their natural habitat, Islamorada or Key Largo are two popular places.

You can see dolphins year-round in the Florida Keys. This is because they are a popular breeding ground. Did you know that dolphins can become pregnant after only one year?

There are many opportunities to swim with dolphins in the Florida Keys. Also, there is a Dolphin Research Center.

Swimming with dolphins is not recommended as they are cruelly kept in captivity. It can be dangerous for both dolphins and the environment, even though it sounds fun. It is much more enjoyable to watch dolphins in their natural environment than it is to observe them in captivity.

Amelia Island

This barrier island, located just north of Jacksonville is a great spot to see wildlife of all kinds; you will find plenty to discover in this region of Florida.

This area is known for its beautiful nature and miles of stunning beaches. Amelia Island is a luxury vacation destination that offers many beach-front restaurants, hotels, and golf courses.

It is perhaps most famous for its sand dunes but it is also a great spot to see dolphins.

Amelia Island offers a wide range of recreational activities. It’s a paradise for adrenaline junkies, with everything from boating to kayaking and diving.

Panama City Beach

This popular tourist destination in Florida is where you can see wild dolphins in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters.

Renting a jet ski with a guide is one of the best ways to see wild dolphins.

This side of the state has much calmer waters than the Atlantic side. The region is also known for its stunning white-sand beaches.

Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a top spot for dolphin-spotting in Florida.

Sanibel is another well-known destination that can be found just off the coast of Fort Myers. It’s a small piece of paradise in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here you can go on a boat trip and see dolphins playing around offshore. You may be able to spot them from Sanibel. Make sure to bring your binoculars!

Do you want to get closer to the dolphins? Rent a kayak to paddle around and search for these magnificent mammals.

You can also go dolphin-watching from Fort Myers if you are unable to make it to Sanibel.


Sarasota, a beautiful coastal city just south of Tampa, is also nearby. This city is well-known for its cultural institutions and is an excellent destination for anyone looking for adventure as well as education. One of the most well-known institutions in the city is the Ringling Museum of Art.

Another well-known fact about Sarasota are the dolphin pods that live off the coast throughout the year. Around 150 of these dolphins live and breed in the azure waters.

You might spot a bottlenose dolphin if you are lucky enough to swim around Sarasota. For a better chance of seeing a dolphin, take a dolphin-watching trip!


Clearwater is another popular spot for dolphin-watching in the Tampa Bay region. Clearwater is a beautiful beach that is located on a barrier island. It is home to a variety of wildlife.

Clearwater’s beaches are beautiful all year and the perfect spot for a dolphin-watching cruise.

New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is located on the Atlantic side Florida. It is known as a surf destination.

Are you a surfer?

Dolphins are playful and surf waves like humans, but they do it for fun. Dolphins surf to have fun and not for their livelihood. These animals are so emotionally intelligent, they require downtime and recreation.

Wild dolphins can be seen surfing the waves made by boats. Dolphins will often find you on dolphin-watching tours because they are eager to play.

River cruises are a popular option for dolphin watching in this region. The cruise follows the river and takes you to some of the most famous spots, such as the Pince de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. You then go out to sea.

You may be able to see some of the many bottlenose dolphins that call this area home once you are on the water.

Do Dolphins Swim with You?

You may be able to swim with dolphins or snorkel with them on some tours. This could be dangerous for dolphins, and it is not recommended.

Dolphins are wild animals and can be unpredictable. You could also be at risk of being injured by dolphins if you go into the water with them.

Dolphins communicate underwater using a complex system that uses high-frequency sounds. You can cause them to lose their ability to communicate. Even if you are a mother trying find her calf, it is possible to interfere with their communication.

Another big no is swimming with dolphins in captivity. These intelligent animals shouldn’t be restricted to a single area to interact with humans.

Dolphins can get sick from the conditions they are kept in. The dolphin’s time in captivity can be significantly shorter than that of the wild.

Best Dolphin Experience in Florida

It’s an ideal vacation activity for any season, with year-round dolphin sightings in Florida.

Florida has something for everyone.

Every Florida dolphin cruise is unique, from the common bottlenose dolphin to the rare spinner dolphin. Every sitting is possible.

We recommend Marco Island for the best dolphin-watching experience. We offer tours unlike any other and use our years of expertise to make sure you have an unforgettable experience.

Marco Island Dolphin Tours invites you to book a tour today. We look forward showing you these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.