Dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals found worldwide, mostly in shallow seas of the continental shelves. They are well known for their playful, showy dispositions. Many species will leap out of the water, spy-hop (rise vertically out of the water to view their surroundings), often synchronizing their movements with one another. And they have a whopping top speed of 25 miles per hour. But more than this, dolphins have a certain etherealness to them: they are compassionate (they help humans in a variety of circumstances including rescues) and intuitive, almost human in many respects, and for the longest time their sightings were few and far between; and these things mystify and magnetize dolphins. Dolphins are easily the most affable aquatic creatures out there and so it’s no wonder that swimming with them is at the top of most people’s bucket lists. Best of all, you can swim with dolphins in some of the world’s top vacation hotspots. That’s why we’ve decided to put together a list of the top 10 places in the world to swim with dolphins. Be sure to add your favorite to your BUCKiTDREAM list. Enjoy!
While you can find dolphin encounters at a variety of aquariums worldwide, and swimming or interacting with dolphins in captivity is becoming increasingly popular, the negative impact this has on the dolphins held in captivity is significant – causing much stress and dramatically shortening life expectancy. Often the visitors to these aquariums and parks are entirely unaware of the dark side of dolphin captivity. So that you have peace of mind, all the locations we’ve listed provide ocean swimming experiences with an environmental consciousness that doesn’t over-exploit these creatures or their habitat. Plus, the most memorable, touching opportunities to swim with dolphins are found in their natural habitats.
Swimming in their natural waters, you’ll find dolphins readily approach you, swim around and underneath you. It’s a completely mutual and natural affair and that makes it notably delightful experience.
The Azores has a fairly steady climate all year round. Temperatures range from 60°F in winter to 79°F in summer. The sea is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Sea temperatures in summer are a toasty 68-72°C.
The Azores is a group of nine volcanic islands situated along the mid-Atlantic ocean ridge, halfway between North America and Europe that have managed to escape commercialism – in large part thanks to their remoteness as well as many local initiatives following high standards of responsible tourism practices – and thereby maintaining their cultural integrity and unspoiled beauty.
Pico Island is where the best dolphin swimming sessions are found. Also commonly spotted are sperm whales, turtles, sunfish and Blue Marlin
Locations like The Azores are few and far between. Not only are they home to an abundance of dolphins, the volcanic mountains of the islands are covered in a huge and striking variety of vegetation and have large, still lakes in their craters. There are also hot water springs you can bathe in and many thermal hot waterfalls formed from the active geothermal processes (the island harnesses this geothermal energy for a notable sustainable energy program).
As well as moss-enveloped forests, meadows filled with the scent of wild herbs and a vibrant, rainbow display of flowers line the roads, and shores lined with rippled lava. This landscape is surrounded by the bluest of oceans. The islands have been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
Week-long trips offer the chance to build your confidence in the open water and use a snorkel around the curious cetaceans?
Egypt – Red Sea
Egypt has a desert climate. Temperatures range from 70°F in winter to 90°F in summer. The best month to swim is in August when the average sea temperature is 88°F, though much of the year is hot.
Visiting the Red Sea is on many people’s bucket list, so hit two birds with one stone and swim with dolphins in the Red Sea. The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. It has a maximum depth of 2211 ft in the central median trench, but, there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. This sea is home to over 1,000 invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals.
A horseshoe coral reef marks the spot where a pod of spinner dolphins spends their days recovering after long nights of heavy drinking – wait, that’s not right… long nights of gorging – yeah, that’s it.
The reef is “zoned” to ensure boats don’t disturb them. You can swim over and snorkel with dolphins, sea turtles and a huge variety of reef-dwelling creatures here, in safe, shallow bays. Night boat expeditions are also available.
Kaikoura, New Zealand
When: Dec- Feb
It can get quite cold here in the South Pacific Ocean, so unless you fancy an ice-cold dip, stick to the months suggested. Temperatures range from 41.2°F in winter to 69.1°F in summer.
Dolphin boat tours every day of the year leave from Kaikoura, located on New Zealand’s South Island, around 110 miles from Christchurch. Although dusky dolphins are most prolific in these waters, the dolphin tours frequently encounter other fascinating marine mammals such as killer whales, pilot whales, fur seals, and Hector’s dolphins. Three-hour tours include guided commentary.
Tropical, humid and hot. When planning your trip to Sri Lanka, it’s essential to understand the two monsoon seasons. The south-western monsoon brings rain to Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. While the north-eastern monsoon, brings wind and rain between October and January, and drier weather between May and September. So whenever you go, you’ll be able to find suitable holiday conditions. Temperatures range from 81°F in winter to 89.6 °F (though they can get as high as 100 in certain areas) in summer.
A tourist hotspot, and diverse and multicultural country, Sri Lanka is home to many religions, ethnic groups, and languages. The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising in the south-central part and over 100 rivers, 45 estuaries, and 40 lagoons. Dolphins are present all along the Sri Lankan coast, though the northwest offers some of the best sightings. Spinner dolphins are some of the most exciting, as they speed through the water alongside boats, and jump for the camera.
Has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures range from 41.2°F in winter to 86°F in summer.
Marine biologists and environmental scientists lead tours to swim with bottlenose dolphins in sandy Koombana Bay. An interpretative center offers more information so you can learn all about the enigmatic creatures.
Fiji has a warm tropical climate, perfect for beachside holidays. A cooling trade wind blows from the east-southeast for most of the year, so even when it is very hot it is far from unbearable. Fiji does have a wet season. The wet season is normally from November to April. The wet season is characterized by heavy, brief local showers and contributes most of Fiji’s annual rainfall. Temperatures range from 65°F in winter to 87.8°F in summer.
Pods of spinner dolphins leap through the air around the surrounding waters of Fiji and you can join a dedicated research team to photograph their acrobatics and record their frenzied clicks and squeaks around the archipelago.
Alright, and that brings us to the end of our trip! Angel falls is one of those to-be-remembered forever places. Now, stuff that backpack and head out to fill your brain with unforgettable experiences. Be sure to record your favorites in your BUCKiTDREAM planner! And if you’re looking for some other incredible destinations to explore, be sure to check some of our other articles. Happy travels!