Top 10 Places to See Dolphins

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Seeing dolphins is a popular choice on bucket lists across the globe. It’s not hard to understand why when these much-loved creatures have a reputation for playfulness and acrobatic displays. Here we round up some of the best places to see them in all of their glory. We’ve focused solely on places you can see wild dolphins with a wow factor, because no-one wants to hang out with a depressed dolphin, do they?

1. Goa

Goa’s got a reputation as a place to dance away your worries, but what you might not know is that there are also a wealth of wildlife spotting opportunities here. A number of companies offer boat trips solely for the purpose of finding dolphins. John’s Boat Tours work on a ‘no dolphin, no pay’ policy and take tourists out to see the Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin as they frolic in the deep blue.

2. Kaikoura

Kaikoura in New Zealand offers one of the world’s finest dolphin encounters. There are buses from Christchurch twice a day which take just under three hours, but boy, is the experience worth it! The area is home to four different breeds of dolphins, including the rare Hector’s dolphin which only lives in New Zealand. There are also dusky dolphins here; they are an incredibly playful species and can often be seen leaping out of the water together.

3. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to the Chinese white dolphin – these dolphins have a pinkish tinge and can often be found scavenging for the fish dragged behind the fishing boats. They’re sociable creatures and tend to swim in groups of around four. Discover Hong Kong offer tours which take visitors to the Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park where these unique dolphins are often spotted.

4. Iceland

Iceland is a great place to see all manner of marine life, from rare blue whales to the more frequently seen minke whales and the white-beaked dolphin. These dolphins have been spotted at all times of year but are most frequently seen in February and March when they gather in large pods with calves alongside them. There are tours out of Reykjavik which means that you can combine a trip with a city break in the capital, or alternatively Húsavík is one of the best places to spot whales and dolphins in Iceland.

5. Tenerife

Thousands of Brits flock to Tenerife each year in search of long sunshine-filled days, golden beaches and a rugged landscape. What you might not know is that it is also a great place to spot dolphins. These sunny isles are home to bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales and sperm whales and these are often spotted off shore. However, there are a number of other species which migrate through Spain‘s Canary Islands meaning that if you time your holiday well you can see a whole host of marine animals!

6. Jamaica

Jamaica is something of a dream holiday destination for many – it marries lush green landscapes with idyllic beaches and a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. To make it even more dreamy, pair a holiday here with a dolphin encounter. In order to see wild dolphins in Jamaica, head to the south coast. There are often sightings between Pelican Bar and Treasure Beach, whilst others report seeing short-beaked common dolphins off the coast at Negril.

7. Monkey Mia

Monkey Mia in Australia offers a unique experience, where you can almost guarantee the chance to get up close and personal with a wild dolphin. For decades here, bottlenose dolphins have swum to shore to be fed by people on the beach. In the last five years the dolphins have only been absent from the beach for four days making it highly likely that you will get to be within a hair’s breadth of one. The nearest international airport is Perth, where you can catch a connecting flight to Monkey Mia, or alternatively take a coach.

[Photo by John Moriarty – Flickr]

8. Florida

Dolphins are synonymous with Florida – however, that needn’t mean captive dolphins and choreographed shows. There are great opportunities to spot wild dolphins here too. Fury Key West offer a tour which combines a dolphin spotting tour atop a catamaran with a chance to snorkel in the backwaters. Bottlenose dolphins call the Gulf of Mexico their home, and can be seen playing in the waters off the shore at Key West.

9. Wales

You don’t need to travel (that) far to see dolphins. They swim in British waters too, with the UK’s biggest pod of bottlenose dolphins residing at Cardigan Bay in Wales. And if you’re super into your marine mammals keep your eyes peeled for porpoises and grey seals as well. The best time to visit is between June and October when dolphins are spotted almost daily. The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre offers lots of information on these lovable creatures and the best places to go to spot them.

10. Hawaii

Hawaii plays host to the acrobatic spinner dolphin. These sociable creatures live in large pods. In Hawaii it’s estimated there are several hundred dolphins per pod, making a sighting of them even more incredible. There are a number of ways to see dolphins in Hawaii including relaxing tours aboard a catamaran, or day trips where you also have the opportunity to snorkel nearby. One thing you can be sure of is that there will be azure waters and soft white sands in a tropical island idyll.