Do's and Don'ts When Swimming with Dolphins
April 28th 2021
If you’re looking to shake things up on your next trip to the beach, we have a great idea that is sure to get the whole family excited! We will give you a hint... it involves swimming with dolphins! You heard it here first, folks! Flipper and friends are coming to a beach near you! Seriously! And it’s one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach, FL.
Before you rush out to the wake to meet your new dolphin friends, however, there are a few things you ought to know. At the end of the day, dolphins are wild animals and you are guests on their turf. So, do yourself a favor and take a gander at our Do’s and Don’ts When Swimming with Dolphins to ensure a safe, and enjoyable occasion for yourself and those around you.
Table of Contents
- What to Do when Swimming with Dolphins
- Go Where the Dolphins are
- Bring a Camera
- Go Out in the Morning or Early Evening
- Be Patient and Have Fun
- What Not to Do when Swimming with Dolphins
- Go Out Too Deep
- Feed the Dolphins
- Grab the Dolphins
- Be Afraid
- Best Dolphin Tours in Panama City Beach
- Swimming With Dolphins at Shell Island
- Small Group Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
- Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise Aboard the Original Sea Screamer
- Shell Island Eco Sea-fari Tour & Dolphin Encounter
- Dolphin and Snorkel Excursion Aboard the Sea Screamer 2
- Shell Island Dolphin Tour on Waverunners
What to Do when Swimming with Dolphins
When it comes to seeing and swimming with dolphins in destinations like Panama City Beach, it’s hard to resist the urge to just dive in when you see these majestic creatures swimming by your boat. While dolphins love the company, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make this experience fun and safe for both you and the dolphins. With that being said, below are a few tips and tricks you will definitely want to take advantage of when swimming with dolphins!
Go Where the Dolphins are
Image of Shell Island by Jerry Bedwell via Flickr
Dolphins typically congregate in near-shore locations along the coastline. In Panama City Beach, Shell Island is a great spot to encounter wild dolphin pods.
Shell Island is 7 miles of incredible beach bliss located across the water from Saint Andrew’s Park. This natural wonder is one of your best bets for finding and swimming with dolphins in Panama City Beach. In addition to being a dolphin congregation hotspot, you can also:
- Find sea shells (it’s right there in the name)
- Take a hike
- Have a family picnic in the sand (minus the buzz of the congested beaches on land)
Better yet, book a Shell Island tour or shuttle and easily get your family from point A to point B in no time!
Bring a Camera
Bring a waterproof camera and take the selfie of a lifetime with Flipper when swimming with dolphins
Swimming with the dolphins is a can’t-miss event, and no matter how many times you do it, it will still give you goosebumps (Do dolphins get goosebumps? Would they be called dolphin bumps?). As such, be sure that you, your friends, or family members bring a waterproof camera to capture the magic, and maybe even share some snaps with us on Facebook! We look forward to seeing your best shots!
Go Out in the Morning or Early Evening
Image of dolphins jumping at sunset by Angell Williams via Flickr
The best time to see and swim with dolphins is in the early part of the morning when they are feeding. You might also go out later in the day before the sun sets. You can spot dolphins at any time of day, really, but less traffic makes them easier to spot. Fewer folks in the surf also makes them more likely to explore the waters close to shore.
Be Patient and Have Fun
Pictured above is a girl swimming with dolphins with Water Planet in Panama City Beach
Savor your time out in the surf while you are waiting for the dolphins to show. Dolphins or not, a gathering of family and friends ought to be a good time. Enjoy some sand dollar exploration or throw the frisbee while you wait, because it probably won’t be too long! In fact, the success rate for professionally-led dolphin tours in Panama City is above 90 percent. So hang tight, relax, and definitely don’t forget the sunblock!
What Not to Do when Swimming with Dolphins
Before you jump in with camera or GoPro in hand, there are still just a few more pieces of information to consider before swimming off into the sunset with Flipper. Equally as significant, keep reading for important things to NOT do when swimming with dolphins.
Go Out Too Deep
Rip currents are just one of the dangers of swimming out too deep. Know what to do if you encounter a rip current and be prepared
Swimming in the surf and battling the tides can be a ton of fun, but it does not come without risk. If you plan on traveling out into the wake to swim with dolphins, be sure to bring a friend and a life vest, no matter what.
Also, be mindful of weather and tide conditions. Look to life guards and beach warning flags for guidance. For example, a red flag on the beach means that the surf is abnormally high, there are strong undercurrents, or both. For sure, a dangerous tide can turn your dream of swimming with dolphins into a nightmare.
Feed the Dolphins
Feeding wild dolphins can be dangerous for dolphins and humans alike
There are plenty of fish in the sea, and that means dolphins don’t need any human food to make ends meet. In fact, your average adult dolphin can eat anywhere between 15 and 30 pounds of crustaceans, fish, and squid per day.
Using food to bait and interact with the dolphins can also lead to aggressive behavior, accidental biting, and other unwelcome guests like sharks, so do everyone a favor and keep your chum to yourself!
Grab the Dolphins
Unless following instructions by a trainer with a trained dolphin, it’s always best to let the dolphins approach you
If you are lucky enough to be within an arm’s reach of a dolphin, it is best not to make any sudden aggressive movements such as grabbing, prodding, or pulling. If you’ve ever been to a marine park or aquarium that is home to dolphins, the biologists there will tell you that dolphins will greet and meet with you on their own terms.
Give them plenty of space to swim and jump around you. Like when you meet a new dog or cat, hold out your hand and allow them to brush into it if they so choose. Aggressive behavior will cause the dolphins to flee and you will ruin the fun for everyone! Don’t be that guy or girl!
One of the friendliest marine species, dolphins are sociable and should not be feared
Despite those warnings from our previous talking points, you really have nothing to fear! Swimming with dolphins is something that thousands of folks enjoy every year.
One of the smartest and most sociable species on the planet, dolphins are actually quite used to human interaction, and plenty of them really enjoy it! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start swimming with the dolphins!
Best Dolphin Tours in Panama City Beach
Now that you’re ready to go swimming with dolphins, all that’s left to do is decide how you’d like to do so. Dozens of exciting tours and excursions have been created out of our love and fascination with these intelligent sea mammals. The most popular being activities even put participants face-to-face with the lovable aquatic creature! Read below to discover the best dolphin tours in Panama City Beach!
Swimming With Dolphins at Shell Island
Shell Island, pictured above, is one of the best places to swim with dolphins in Florida
Panama City dolphin encounters are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Let Water Planet watersports company connect you with Shell Island’s famous Bottlenose Dolphins! An experienced crew will instruct passengers on the best procedures during the Swimming with Dolphins Shell Island tour, and accompany them during several live swim-ins with wild dolphin pods! Shell Island Dolphin Swims with Water Planet are available all spring and summer long, and depart daily.
Small Group Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
According to a recent Traveler Story, a small group dolphin and snorkel tour is an intimate and amazing experience
Looking to snorkel and search for dolphins, but don’t have the budget for a high-end dolphin encounter? Try a Small Group Dolphin and Snorkel Tour in Panama City Beach! Take up to 6 people aboard this 2-hour guided cruise around Shell Island, taking breaks to cool off and search for marine life in the shallow coastal waters.
Although this tour doesn’t offer specific swims with wild dolphins, the captain and crew make sure to cruise among dolphin pods around Shell Island. This tour departs 4 times a day, and offers free snorkel gear.
Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise Aboard the Original Sea Screamer
Pictured above is a group enjoying the Sea Screamer daytime dolphin cruise in Panama City Beach, FL
The Original Sea Screamer in Panama City Beach is home to your ultimate Panama City Beach Dolphin Cruise experience! Great for families with young children, the Sea Screamer cruises by Shell Island and the State Park Jetties, while children try their hand at steering the boat and blasting imaginary pirates with on-board water cannons! The friendly crew is experienced with young children, and will provide a memorable Panama City Beach Dolphin Cruise experience!
Shell Island Eco Sea-fari Tour & Dolphin Encounter
Pictured above is a group heading to Shell Island for an Eco Sea-fari tour and dolphin encounter aboard the Captain Anderson III
A perfect kid-friendly wildlife experience, see the beautiful sights of Shell Island and search for wild dolphins in the emerald green Panama City Beach waters aboard the Captain Anderson III. After cruising the coast, depart at a secluded beach and wade in the water for sea shells and marine critters, or post-up in the sand for a private beach experience.
The friendly captain provides expert narration, and the comfortable Captain Anderson III vessel is perfect for lounging and relaxing! The tour lasts an impressive 3.5 hours, and with prices starting from around $10, this Panama City Beach dolphin cruise is do-able on any vacation budget.
Dolphin and Snorkel Excursion Aboard the Sea Screamer 2
Snorkeling the beautiful waters of Panama City Beach will not only reveal dolphins, but also sand dollars, hermit crabs, shells, and more
All aboard the Sea Screamer 2, home to one of the best dolphin and snorkel excursion tours you will find anywhere in the Gulf Coast! Big, beautiful boat? Check. Snorkel gear and instructions? Check. A must do item while you’re visiting Panama City Beach, pop on by to meet the crew, and get ready to rock and roll with dolphins, sea birds, and other amazing marine wildlife!
Shell Island Dolphin Tour on Waverunners
Dolphin tours on waverunners are a great way to get the adrenaline pumping
Zip and whip through the waves on a waverunner on your way over to Shell Island to swim with the dolphins! Get off and enjoy the sands and water of St. Andrews Bay while you wait for Flipper and his mates. This 2-hour tour is a great idea for couples or adventure seekers looking to spice up your relaxing trip to Panama City Beach, FL!
It’s important to know when to take a dolphin cruise for the best chances of spotting dolphins. Check out our latest article detailing when you should go on a Dolphin Cruise.
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