Places to Enjoy Dolphins in Florida
By Lauren Tjaden
Who doesn’t adore dolphins? In Florida, you can touch them, watch them play and, in some places, share the water with them. Here of some of the ways to enjoy them in the Sunshine State...
Meet a Movie Star
The true story of Winter, star of the movie "Dolphin Tale," inspires people worldwide. She’s a symbol of courage, perseverance and hope – and Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the only place on the planet you can see her. The aquarium also offers animal interaction programs, dolphin photo opportunities and stingray feedings.
Imagine the thrill of touching a dolphin: feeling its rubbery skin, gazing into its intelligent eyes or even sharing a kiss with it. Imagine speeding through the water being pulled by one. You don’t have to imagine. You can enjoy this mind-boggling adventure at Discovery Cove in Orlando, a private, all-inclusive, full-day resort.A limited number of people are admitted per day to play on the beach, snorkel in the fish-filled waterways and experience a 30-minute swim with dolphins. The resort also offers underwater walking tours, up-close encounters with lionfish and sharks, and one-on-one interaction with diverse animals including schools of fish and gentle rays.
Wild and Free
Dolphins leap in the boat’s wake, spontaneous, graceful and powerful. They toss fish to each other. Sometimes, they seem to be laughing. They even respond to the encouraging claps and cheers of their admiring audiences. You can experience these clever animals in all of their wild, natural glory aboard the Southern Star, an 80-foot, double-decker, glass-bottom boat. The expedition explores Destin Harbor and the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Your 90-minute dolphin adventure tour via WaveRunner with Holiday Water Sports of Fort Myers Beach takes off with a rip-roaring, water-spraying ride through the Gulf of Mexico, led by a knowledgeable guide. The pace will slow and you’ll putter into Estero Bay to explore its pristine islands. Before heading home, you’ll turn off your engines and bob quietly aboard your WaveRunner, taking in the antics of dozens of dolphins in their natural environment – often, only a few feet away.
Create a Work of Art
Team up with a dolphin at the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon to create your own dolphin masterpiece. You choose the colors; the dolphins paint! You’ll kneel on the dock and stretch a T-shirt over the water while the dolphin dabs, smears and brushes. The shirt is yours forever, to wear or display. The DRC also offers a full range of interactive dolphin experiences, from being a trainer for a day to swimming with the dolphins. Some of their dolphins are descendants of the 1963 "Flipper" movie cast.