Not many experiences can match the sheer joy and fun of swimming with dolphins. These intelligent and playful creatures have captivated humans for generations with their acrobatics and friendly natures. There are numerous places where you can snorkel with dolphins and see what all the fuss is about. Whether you are looking for somewhere close to home for the whole family or an exotic getaway with idyllic snorkeling spots, we’ve got you covered in our round-up of the top places to snorkel with dolphins.
Egypt is known for its aquarium-like house reefs just a few steps from the shore, world-famous wrecks and exciting offshore reef dives. For the best opportunity to snorkel with dolphins, head to the Southern Red Sea.
Samadai (Dolphin House) reef at Marsa Alam is a sheltered horseshoe-shaped reef famous for its population of spinner dolphins. It is also close to the best snorkeling and diving in Marsa Alam.
Species: Spinner dolphins, bottlenose and Risso’s.
- The Bahamas
With numerous corals cays to choose from, you are spoilt for choice when visiting the Bahamas. There are plenty of places where you can encounter dolphins but the best places to spot them are Bimini and Grand Bahama. There are several resident pods present year-round there.
Species: Atlantic spotted, spinner, bottlenose and striped.
- The Azores
The Azores is one of the world’s leading whale and dolphin watching destinations. In the bright blue waters of these volcanic islands, you can swim with up to 5 different dolphin species, plus blue sharks, mantas and mobula rays.
Species: Atlantic spotted, bottlenose, striped, Risso’s and common.
Along with the Azores, diving in Madeira is one of Portugal’s top attractions. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, this subtropical archipelago has thriving reefs, deep wrecks, and is visited by 26 species of whales and dolphins.
You can swim with playful schools of wild dolphins year-round at Madeira. With some of the cleanest and clearest waters in the world, it is an unforgettable experience.
Species: Common, spotted.
- New Zealand
New Zealand has no less than 4 destinations where you can swim with dolphins and hosts 9 different dolphin species.
The popular Bay of Plenty offers dolphin swim safaris, and the rich waters there also host seals, whales, sunfish and sea turtles. Go swimming with up to five different dolphin species in the forest-draped Marlborough Sounds or swim with dusky dolphins in the shadow of Kaikoura’s rugged mountains.
For the ultimate dolphin experience, go swimming with Hector’s dolphins at the pretty coastal town Akaroa. These adorable dolphins are the smallest in the world.
Species: Common, dusky, bottlenose, Hector’s.
Australia offers accessible swimming with dolphins on the doorsteps of its best-known cities.
Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, just 2.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, offers dolphin swimming tours with common and bottlenose dolphins. Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne hosts resident bottlenose dolphins that often approach people in the water.
You can hang out with playful bottlenose and common dolphins at Glenelg near Adelaide, or head to Perth in Western Australia to swim with the local dolphins of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.
Species: Common, bottlenose.
Hawaii hosts an impressive array of marine life, with 25 per cent of its species found nowhere else on Earth. Its underwater treasures and lava landscapes draw people to Hawaii scuba diving every year.
Head to Oahu or Big Island to find dolphins along the coastline or join a dolphin swimming tour. Make sure you book with a Dolphin SMART operator and leave plenty of time to explore Oahu’s many top places to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles as well.
Species: Spinner, bottlenose, spotted.
Fiji’s rainbow-hued reefs and 300 or so idyllic islands are perfect for snorkeling adventures in search of dolphins.
Both spinner and bottlenose dolphins are found in Fiji’s warm waters and some resorts have resident dolphin pods just offshore. There are various tours you can join to swim with the dolphins, so just ask at your local Fiji dive center to find out more.
Species: Bottlenose, spinner.
- The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands sit at the top of many divers wish lists and understandably so. These wild islands offer unparalleled wildlife watching opportunities above and below water.
Diving with sharks, rays, penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and countless fish is the norm at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Dolphins are also often seen in the water, with both bottlenose and common dolphins resident all year. Fernandina Island is one of the top places to spot them.
Species: Bottlenose, common.
- French Polynesia
French Polynesia’s rich marine ecosystems, which include a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the second-largest atoll in the world, are teeming with marine life, including dolphins.
From November to mid-July, large pods of spinner dolphins are found along Moorea Island’s coastline. Join a boat tour to swim with the dolphins then head to Moorea Lagoon to meet the resident stingrays and reef sharks this picture-perfect location is known for.
- South Africa
To witness one of the world’s true spectacles, visit South Africa during the sardine run. Billions of sardines migrate along the coast of South Africa every year, attracting countless diving sea birds, dolphins, whales and sharks.
Drop into the water amongst the sardines and you can watch the pelagic action unfold, with hunting dolphins working together to make the most of this awe-inspiring feast.
Species: Bottlenose, common.
Fernando de Noronha in Brazil is a diving mecca that hosts some of Brazil’s best beaches and snorkeling opportunities.
Sea turtles, reef sharks, rays and dolphins gather in the clear, warm waters around this archipelago of 21 volcanic islands. At the aptly-named Dolphin Bay, hundreds of spinner dolphins gather daily to feed on the fish and socialize. Watch these acrobatic dolphins from the shoreline or join a tour to swim with them.
Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.
The Suit Ocean Team leads the Ultimate Curacao Snorkeling Adventure
As passionate residents of our Dutch Caribbean Island, we must congratulate The Suit Ocean Team for creating more awareness about the importance of protecting our beautiful fringing reef systems in Curacao.
The film, Curacao Underwater Kunuku (Kunuku is Papiamento for Garden), not only documents this ultimate snorkeling adventure showing you how easy it is for everyone to access and enjoy a snorkel or diving experience, but it also showcases the interaction between man and nature, highlighting the beauty of underwater life while promoting conservation, preservation and the need to protect these vital habitats.
These are the key ingredients to this beautiful short film documentary. Watch NOW and please enjoy our “CURACAO UNDERWATER KUNUKU”.
This film, produced by the Lawrence Mensa Foundation (LMF), is also available in multiple languages including: Spanish, Papiamentu, Dutch, Portuguese and German.
8 Unique Places to Go Snorkeling in Europe
Snorkeling in Europe brings to mind golden sands dotted with beach umbrellas, clear waters, and rocky landscapes busy with Mediterranean fish life. Europe offers all of that, but it also offers so much more for snorkelers. Among Europe’s diverse countries, you can find impossibly bright blue lagoons, idyllic islands, and pristine marine reserves that host thousands of sea turtles and playful seals. You can snorkel over a sunken Roman city and explore one of the world’s premier marine megafauna hotspots. Ready for a summer vacation? Get inspired with our round-up of 8 unique places to go snorkeling in Europe.
Sitting between the islands of Malta and Gozo, Comino Island is a paradise for snorkelers and divers alike. This tiny island hosts the brightest blue waters in the Maltese Islands and offers fantastic snorkeling among sheltered inlets and caves busy with diverse marine life.
Comino is best-known for hosting the Blue Lagoon; a bucket-list destination with crystal-clear waters and striking rocky landscapes. It is the perfect place to go snorkeling, take a hike, or simply marvel at the gorgeous scenery.
Medes Islands, Spain.
With over 500 dive sites and seaside destinations all along its coastline, Spain draws tourists from around the world. This vibrant country is one of Europe’s top vacation spots.
The Costa Brava in northeastern Spain is home to some of the most famous snorkeling spots in the country, one of which is the Medes Islands. This small archipelago of seven islets off L’Estartit is one of the best marine reserves in all of the Mediterranean.
Fishing was banned at the Medes Islands over 30 years ago, which has allowed marine life to flourish there. Seagrass meadows and rocky areas busy with fish await. A visit to this exceptional marine ecosystem is a must if you are visiting Spain.
If you love sea turtles, Greece should be top of your list of places to go snorkeling in Europe.
Zakynthos is home to Marathonisi Island, also known as ‘Turtle Island’. This small island sits within the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and is a vital breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos was created in 1999 to protect these turtles, plus rare Mediterranean monk seals, which give birth to their young in Zakynthos’s secluded caves.
Marathonisi, nearby Cameo Island, and Zakynthos, are the top places in Europe to swim with turtles. In the summer months, thousands of loggerhead turtles visit the area to lay their eggs and you can go snorkeling with them.
Lundy Island, United Kingdom.
Snorkeling with seals is bound to leave a smile on your face. These cheeky animals are known for getting up close to snorkelers, checking them out, and occasionally nibbling fins.
Lundy Island is one of the best places to go snorkeling with seals in Europe. This island sits just 12 miles off the coast of Devon and hosts a breeding colony of Atlantic grey seals. The seals can be found playing in the surf and lounging in the sunshine at various points around the island.
Grab your snorkeling kit and dive in. Below the water, you will find shallow sunlit kelp forests, a variety of reefs, sea caves, and pinnacles. Lundy is a popular place for diving, but you will see plenty of marine life from the surface, including bright cup corals, anemones, fish, and hopefully seals.
Sunken City of Baiae, Italy
Not every great snorkeling experience is about marine life. In Italy, you can snorkel over ancient Roman ruins.
Two thousand years ago, Baiae was the destination for rich Romans to escape the city and relax by the seaside. Countless emperors and merchants flocked to Baiae’s shores every year, until tectonic activity forced this thriving city underwater.
Today, Baiae is an intact underwater city and one of the top highlights of snorkeling and diving in Italy. Observing these ruins is a breath-taking experience that brings history to life. There are Roman statues, a thermal spa, paved roads, and pillars dating back to the 1st century BC.
Corsica is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and shallow bays perfect for snorkeling with your kids.
This gorgeous island in the Mediterranean Sea boasts dramatic cliffs and white-sand beaches that hosts a wealth of accessible snorkeling spots. There are rich seagrass beds and rocky landscapes, plus small hidden coves dotted around the island. All of which host a diverse array of marine life, including huge schools of fish, octopi, moray eels, and starfish.
Corsica’s calm waters make it ideal not just for kids, but also for beginner snorkelers and those who want an easy time in the water. With water temperatures reaching up to 26 °C, plus water visibility of up to 30 meters, Corsica ticks the boxes for a laidback beach and snorkeling vacation.
Traun River, Austria
You might not think of Austria for snorkeling, but this land of iconic mountains and lush green landscapes has pristine lakes that attract divers and snorkelers every year. Away from the lakes, you can go snorkeling in spring-fed rivers that gleam in the sunshine.
Forget about floating on the surface when you go river snorkeling. At the Traun River in Upper Austria, river snorkeling involves rock jumping, canyoning, and some relaxed floating downstream. Along the way, you can explore interesting rock formations, underwater caves, and a waterfall, and meet freshwater fish life. This is also an excellent spot to go drift diving.
The Azores, Portugal
Sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by endless blue waters, the Azores is a mecca for marine megafauna.
These famous islands host a remarkable amount of marine life, including more than 27 whale and dolphin species, mobula rays, and sharks. Snorkeling at the Azores is a great way to experience this wealth of life. You can swim with dolphins and snorkel among dozens of mobula rays and big pelagic fish.
And if you have a scuba certification, you can also go diving with mako and blue sharks. With water visibility reaching up to 60 meters, the Azores is incredible whichever way you choose to explore.
Kathryn Curzon, a conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.
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