Swimming with dolphins is an opportunity of a lifetime! It’s an incredible experience to meet, touch, and interact with these beautiful, sociable, and intelligent marine mammals. Dolphins are very playful and love interacting with people.
Florida, the sunshine state, is known for its beaches, theme parks, water parks, palm trees, warm weather, alligators – and bottlenose dolphins. In fact, Florida is one of the regions with most dolphin swimming sites! But where can you swim with dolphins in Florida?
Read on to find out or check out our guide on where to see dolphins in Florida if you’re not wanting to swim with these amazing mammals!
If the memorable adventure of swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list of things to do, now is the time to check it off!
- Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Orlando, Florida?
- Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Miami, Florida?
- Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in the Florida Keys?
- Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Clearwater, Florida?
- Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Tampa, Florida?
- Where Else in Florida Can You Swim with the Dolphins?
Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Orlando, Florida?
While Orlando may be famous for Disney World, it can also make another dream come true. Swim with the dolphins in Orlando at one of these high-rated venues:
Get up close with a dolphin at Discovery Cove, at 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821. The dolphin encounters take place in their unique dolphin lagoons. Learn about the dolphins’ behaviors and habits and spend a half-hour swimming, playing, and interacting with the incredible mammals.
Discovery Cove operates as a resort and you’ll need to make advanced reservations. Wetsuits, lockers, towels, and parking are included in the admission.
When you’re finished with your dolphin adventure, enjoy Discovery Cove’s other attractions including snorkeling with tropical fish, feeding exotic birds, and meeting the sea otters.
Epcot Disney World
The Epcot theme park at Disney World offers a three-hour dolphin experience at The Seas with Nemo and Friends. While you won’t be allowed to swim with the dolphins, you will be able to play with them in waist-deep water. Learn all about the dolphins’ world and see how they live before your 30-minute personal session in the water to interact with the playful mammals.
Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Miami, Florida?
Miami is a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors throughout the country to its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and tourist attractions. It’s also home to one of the top dolphin encounter venues where you can interact directly with the animals for an unforgettable experience.
Dolphin Odyssey at the Miami Seaquarium
The Miami Seaquarium’s Dolphin Odyssey gives you 30 minutes of hands-on play with one of their friendly Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. Get your first kiss from a dolphin and shake their flippers. The program includes shallow water play, participating in feeding, training, and deep water swimming. You may even get a dorsal fin ride across the pool!
There is a minimum height requirement, so check the rules if you plan to go with kids. Lockers, showers, and towels are included in your park admission and you can use one of their changing rooms to get dressed after your dolphin swim.
The dolphin experience will take about 1.5 hours as it includes an introductory session and briefing. There are other activities to do in the park including shows and exhibits. Plan to spend 4-5 hours in the park to get the full experience.
If you want to meet and greet a dolphin but not get into the pool, consider the park’s Dolphin Encounter program.
The Seaquarium is located on Biscayne Bay, just a short drive from Downtown Miami. It’s only about 20 minutes from South Beach and under an hour from North Miami Beach.
Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in the Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys, an archipelago on Florida’s southern coast, draws tourists with their fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling – and dolphin experience! Make swimming with the dolphins the highlight of your trip to the Keys!
The Dolphin Research Center
The Dolphin Research Center is a marine mammal sanctuary that provides education on marine life. Their dolphin encounter experiences offer visitors unique opportunities to interact with the fascinating animals. Unlike some other dolphin venues, children can participate in many of the Dolphin Research Center’s experiences.
The Center offers various packages and you can rent a private dock for an individual experience. Book the dolphin encounter package to play with the dolphins in the shallow and deep waters of the research center. Learn signals from the trainers to communicate with the dolphins and hold on to their dorsal fin and let the dolphin take you for a ride!
Groups of up to ten people can reserve a family dolphin splash package. Stand on a platform in waist-deep water and play with the dolphins. A trainer will help coordinate the games and give you a memorable experience.
For those who don’t want to go into the water, the Center offers a session to play with the dolphins from the docks, suitable for children as young as four years old. Get ready for smiles, laughs – and to get splashed.
Dolphins Plus, in Key Largo, offers visitors an unforgettable experience. Meet, play, and paint with an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin.
Sit on a floating dock in the water and meet a dolphin face to face. Touch, rub and give the dolphin a handshake in the Dolphin Dockside program. For the painting experience, you can help the dolphin paint a unique work of art. Interact with the dolphins while standing in shallow water – a wonderful option for children and non-swimmers.
For the ultimate experience, book the Signature Swim session to swim with the dolphins in the water. Watch them up close as they swim, jump, and maybe even take you for a ride.
Hawks Cay Resort
Swim with bottlenose dolphins in their lagoon in Duck Key, Florida. Get in the water with the dolphins to give them a rub, handshake, and get a belly ride while holding on to their pectoral fins!
The program does have minimum height requirements and you will need reservations, so check with the program before you make plans for the awesome adventure.
Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Clearwater, Florida?
Clearwater boasts stunning beaches and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, diving, and of course – dolphins. The waters off of Clearwater are home to many Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. If you take one of the many tour boats, you will likely see the beautiful mammals frolicking in their natural habitat.
Although there aren’t any programs or venues in Clearwater that offer the experience of swimming with dolphins, there are many opportunities to get close and observe the marine mammals.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The VIP Rough-Toothed Dolphin Experience and the VIP Bottlenose Dolphin Experience, both available at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (one of the best aquariums in Florida), will give you a behind-the-scenes tour of caring for their dolphins. Learn about these intelligent mammals and get the opportunity to touch and interact with them in your session.
Although you will not be able to get into the water and swim with them, meeting them up close is still an encounter to remember.
Encounters with Dolphins
The Encounters with Dolphins boat tour does not offer swimming with the dolphins but gives you the opportunity to watch the porpoises swimming in their natural habitat. The boat tour does stop on Compass Island where you can swim in the waters – and you might be fortunate to encounter a dolphin or two.
Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Tampa, Florida?
Tampa, the third most populated city in Florida, is situated on Tampa Bay. Although it is an urban area, Tampa has many parks, beaches, and tourist attractions.
However, if you’re looking to swim with dolphins in Tampa, you will need to travel to Discovery Cove in Orlando, about an hour away, or St. Augustine, a three-hour drive, for the experience.
Where Else in Florida Can You Swim with the Dolphins?
While these locations may not be as well-known as other tourist destinations in Florida, they are worth the drive to experience their dolphin swimming activities.
Marineland in St. Augustine, Florida
Enjoy an unparalleled belly ride with a dolphin at the Dolphin Swim Adventure at Marineland. During the thirty-minute adventure, you will be able to play and swim with the dolphins in their pool.
Book the Royal Swim package to get a foot push ride through the water by one of the dolphins. The dolphins will push the soles of your feet, shake your hand, hug you, and follow the trainers’ commands for a fun and memorable adventure.
Reservations are required and spots are limited, so reserve your spot before you head over there.
Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico, in northwest Florida. Book a Royal Swim or Swim Adventure program at the Gulf World Marine Park for an experience of a lifetime. Get a dolphin kiss, hug, handshake, and a ride while holding on to their pectoral fins!
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Get into the water with the dolphins to touch, rub, and play with them in their pool. The water is only three feet deep so you won’t be able to actually swim with them, but you will be able to interact with the dolphins. You may also have the opportunity to feed them and learn some commands from the trainers to communicate with them.
Tips for your Dolphin Experience
To get the best out of your dolphin adventure, check out the venue before you go to make sure that they are open and have availability for the day and time you want to come. Some places may require advanced reservations and hours of operation and the venue’s schedule may change.
- Check if there is a minimum age or height requirement or other restrictions before going to avoid any disappointments. Many venues do not allow children to swim with the dolphins or require a paying adult to go with them.
- Prices vary depending on the programs, and they can be expensive. Check the rates of your adventure package before you book. If you’re going as a group or family, ask if there are group rates.
- Pregnant women are usually not allowed to swim with dolphins due to safety precautions.
- You may be asked to remove any jewelry before entering the dolphin pool.
- Bring a swimsuit and towel. The venues usually provide wetsuits and life jackets if you’re going into the water. If you’re going in your swimsuit, bring along a change of clothing.
- Ask if you may wear sunscreen. Some places do not allow sunscreen for the protection of the dolphins. Other programs may provide dolphin-safe sunscreen for you to use.
- Bring along a camera and a friend, if the venue allows you to take photographs. Most places will not let you bring a camera into the water. Many places will take pictures of your dolphin encounter and offer them to you to purchase.
- If you have special needs, ask the program if they can accommodate you. Many dolphin encounter programs can!
- Budget your time to account for instructions and training. Many places give introduction briefings before the dolphin encounter, so although the hands-on experience may only include ½ hour, the session may be a lot longer. Some places will ask for you to arrive an hour before your appointment.
- If you encounter dolphins while swimming in the open waters, do not approach them or touch them. The dolphins you meet in the aquariums and dolphin programs are specially trained.
- Do not feed the dolphins unless the trainer instructed you or has given their approval.
- Cherish the moment!
Hopefully this guide has helped answer the question: where can you swim with dolphins in Florida? Swimming with dolphins is an incredible, memorable, and awe-inspiring experience.
There aren’t many places in the world that offer encounters with these intelligent and beautiful aquatic mammals. Florida is one of the locations with the most opportunities to make your dream of swimming with dolphins an unforgettable reality.
Before embarking on your adventure, check the rules and regulations with the venue to ensure that you will have the best experience. Many places require you to make reservations and there may be restrictions on age, height, or the number of people that can join.
Most venues will provide instructions and an informative briefing about dolphins, their lifestyle, and caring for their environment. It’s important to treat them with the sensitivities they deserve.
Most importantly, enjoy your encounter with the Florida dolphins!