Top Places for a Sarasota Dolphin Tour
Dolphins are one of the most beloved creatures in the sea and many people who travel to Sarasota, FL look forward to seeing them! And chances are that you’ll see quite a few as the bay is home to hundreds of dolphins. Plus, there was a record-breaking number of baby dolphins born in 2021!
Can You Go Swimming with Dolphins in Sarasota?
If you’re looking to go swimming with dolphins in Sarasota, you, unfortunately, won’t find any reputable businesses offering this experience. Swimming with dolphins in the wild is illegal in the state and you can be fined up to $10,000 for doing so.
While dolphins are known for being intelligent, these beautiful sea creatures are still wild animals – meaning they can be aggressive if they feel threatened. Additionally, preserving this natural habitat means the dolphins cannot become dependent on humans feeding them.
The good news is you can still get up close and personal with dolphins at the Mote Marine Aquarium! They offer a highly entertaining dolphin show and you can see all kinds of other sea creatures in their exhibits.
If you simply want to observe dolphins in their natural habitat, we highly recommend you book a specialized tour. You might have a hard time finding a pod of dolphins on your own by going out in a boat.
But don’t give up hope – there are so many places in Sarasota where you can go with a tour guide to see these lovely sea creatures!
Where to Go to See Dolphins
Dolphins love to stay in the warm, tepid waters of the Florida Gulf Coast. While you’re quite likely to see dolphins any time of the year, they are the most active during the warmer months of May through August.
If you want to see some truly incredible sites and increase your chances of seeing dolphins jumping to the surface, we suggest booking a sunrise tour! While you can certainly get a great view from a boat out on the bay, there’s nothing like viewing the water from above in a helicopter. You can observe pods of dolphins swimming and jumping in the sun’s reflection – and it’s quite a sight to see!
Another reason that it’s wise to see dolphins from a helicopter tour rather than a boat is that you’ll get to observe more areas. Dolphins roam all over the bay, which extends for about 52 square miles in the county. From a helicopter, you can fly to several of the hot spots and beaches where dolphins may be, such as:
- Brandenton Beach
- Casey Key
- Lido Key Beach
- Long Boat Key
- Siesta Key Beach
Now, there are no guarantees that you’ll see dolphins when you come to Sarasota. Some days, dolphins are just a bit shy and might not peak to the surface! But if you keep your eyes peeled and come to visit on a clear, sunny day, your chances are pretty high.
What You Should Bring Along
As with any excursion in Florida, it’s super important to bring ample sunscreen and protective clothing. You’ll want to lather on sunscreen before, during, and after your tour and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
If you choose to book a helicopter tour to see dolphins, there are certain items of clothing you should and shouldn’t bring. First, wear comfy clothing and dress in light layers so that you’re comfortable during the flight. Our pilots ask that you avoid wearing large hats or reflective clothing like large pieces of jewelry, as this can hinder their vision.
Of course, you’ll want to bring your phone and/or camera to capture the memories! These are highly encouraged -just make sure that your devices are secured onto your wrist so you don’t drop them accidentally. Adding a wristband to your camera or phone is highly encouraged.
What to Expect During a Sarasota Tour
Most tours won’t be just about seeing dolphins – you’ll get to see many other sites that Sarasota has to offer, too. For instance, you’ll likely fly over some of the islands in Sarasota and observe their beautiful white sands and light blue waters.
You’ll also pass over some of the most famous landmarks in the city, such as the modern downtown buildings and the unmistakable John and Mable Ringling Art Museum that mimics Venetian architecture. You also can’t miss the Marie Shelby Botanical gardens!
If you come during the winter or spring, you might be lucky enough to see manatees in the water, too. These sea creatures flock to the warmer Florida waters during the cold months, and you can spot them pretty easily when they swim towards the surface!
What Else to Do in Sarasota, FL
Once you’ve marked seeing dolphins off your list, what else can you do? Well, there are plenty more things to do and see in Sarasota beyond just our beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters.
You can meet even more of the creatures that call Florida home by visiting the habitats and sanctuaries in town. For instance, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is a popular destination where you can see gorgeous big cats, tropical birds, and primates. You can also see some creatures out in the wild by going for a brisk hike through one of our state parks!
Ready to Book Your Tour?
If you’ve got an upcoming vacation to the beautiful city of Sarasota, consider adding a helicopter tour of the city to your itinerary! Whether you’re on the hunt to spot dolphins in the waters below or you just want a tour of all the sprawling beaches, a helicopter tour is a unique and exhilarating way to see the sights.