grey dolphin on water in selective focus photography

The best places to swim with dolphins in the world

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(Last updated on: 04/05/2021)

You may be asking yourself where are the best places to swim with dolphins. Whether swimming with dolphins is a life-long ambition, a bucket-list item or you are doing it for the health benefits it is important that you thoroughly research where do undertake this activity. Swimming with dolphins has been the subject of controversy in recent years and some institutions that offer this service do not treat the animals well. In this article I have outlined the best places to swim with dolphins around the world, but I urge you please do make sure that you do your research on the specific company offering this service beforehand and do not swim with the dolphins if there are likely to be negative effects on the animals.

Should you swim with dolphins?

There are many ethical questions called into play when talking about swimming with dolphins. It is worth doing your own research into whether this activity aligns with your morals. This is important with any tourist activity, in fact. Look at reviews, and keep an eye out for the places that treat their dolphins well rather than horribly exploiting them.

best places to swim with dolphins

Which countries offer the chance to swim with dolphins?

The best places to swim with dolphins are scattered across the globe. They tend to be in hot countries, or hot areas of larger countries. Some countries that offering dolphin swimming experiences are:

  • The Bahamas
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • Egypt
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Jamaica
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Dominican Republic

There are a few other countries in which you can swim with dolphins, but these are the main ones that famously offer the experience to tourists. So, specifically where are the best places to swim with dolphins?

Dolphin Cove, Ocho Rios

Located in Jamaica, Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios is said to be one of the best places to swim with dolphins. The park is set in 5 acres of tropical rainforest, and inside is a natural cove that is home to beautiful Jamaican dolphins. They live in their natural environment, and thrive on this.

Dolphin Cove has a wide variety of activities on offer as well as their dolphin swim experiences: you can snorkel with stingrays, chill out on the beach or say hello to the iguanas that frequent the Jungle Trail walk. You can even hold a shark!

With games and education experiences throughout the park, it is a fantastic day out and a great place to swim with dolphins if this is something on your travel bucket list. Prices for dolphins encounters here start at $109 – you can kiss and shake hands with the dolphins in knee-high water.

Zoomarine Algarve, Albufeira 

There aren’t many places in Europe that offer this experience, but Zoomarine Algarve in Albufeira, Portugal is one of the best places to swim with dolphins. Actively engaging in the conservation of ocean life, Zoomarine works alongside the Portuguese Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity. This team are ‘dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release into the wild of marine and aquatic animals’. They work with other organisations too, and donate merchandise profits to conservation efforts across the country.

From just €83, you can spend up to 90 minutes with dolphins here. Choose from shallow or deeper waters, and get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Experiences are suitable from age 6 and up, and it is worth booking in advance. You’ll learn all about how dolphins behave, and why they do what they do. This activity is sure to open your eyes to the world of this beautiful species.

Wildlife tourism

Dolphinarus Cozumel, Mexico

The breathtaking Mexican island of Cozumel is a popular cruise destination when it comes to Caribbean cruises. Dolphinaris is a great way to connect with ocean life, and they are keen on making waves when it comes to conservation.

They have an Ocean Care Station here, with an interactive museum tour. This gives you the chance to learn as much as possible about the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the species that are lucky enough to call it home. This is one of the best places to swim with dolphins, especially if you’re looking for a quick experience that give you plenty of time to do something else with your day. 

Most cruise stops are only half a day, by the time you have disembarked the ship and then got back on with time to go before the sail-away. This means you don’t want to be wasting time with activities that take too long. So, trip to Dolphinaris is ideal.

With free WiFi throughout the park, locker rental and changing rooms, the Sundeck Lounge (complete with infinity pool) and a brilliant restaurant and bar, there are so many reasons to visit Dolphinaris when you’re on the island. With experiences from $59.50, you can get to know the dolphins here and swim in the crystal clear water with them too!

As well as Cozumel, Dolphinaris have parks Cancun, Riviera Maya, Tulum and Barceló. All five locations are some of the best places to swim with dolphins! The company’s conservation efforts and fun experiences are top tier, and you are bound to have a fun day out at these fantastic parks.

Dolphin Quest, Waikoloa Village

The village is located in Hawaii, around 165 miles away from Honolulu. Dolphin Quest itself is part of the Hilton resort, and experiences start from $210. Choose from family encounters, seeing baby dolphins, SCUBA diving and much more. They even offer a marine mammal trainer experience. This is 5 hours long and gives you an insight into the possible careers associated with dolphins. Help prepare the dolphins’ food, get plenty of photographs and learn how to train dolphins and other marine mammals. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and one that could set you up for life in terms of pushing you towards your dream career in the field of marine biology.

Dolphin Quest was founded by veterinarians specialising in marine mammal care. This means they know exactly how to care for the dolphins here. They provide state of the art medical care and training for these magnificent creatures, and give the dolphins spacious habitats which are naturally enriching. With educational programmes and fantastic visitor experiences, it is no wonder that Dolphin Quest is one of the best places to swim with dolphins anywhere in the world! They are an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. That just goes to show how good of an organisation they are.

Dolphin Quest have two other sites. One is located within the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Oahu, Hawaii whilst the third the National Museum of Bermuda. This is based at a historic fort, and you can encounter dolphins at any of the three locations! It really is the experience of a lifetime.

Dolphin Bay, Dubai 

Dubai is an iconic location, part of the UAE and home to the tallest building in the world as well as many other record-breakers. From luxury hotels to miles of open desert and around 1000 km of beaches, there so many reasons to visit Dubai. The warm weather and sense of glamour only make it even better! And they have dolphins, too, at Dolphin Bay in Atlantis. This is a 5-star hotel and resort with its own waterpark, offering views of the Arabian Gulf as well as the phenomenal Dubai skyline. From family rooms to luxury suites, multiple world-class dining options and plenty of things to do, a stay at the Atlantis is something you’ll never forget.

From simple meet and greets where you don’t even need to get in the water to full-on deep water swimming experiences, there are many chances to meet the beautiful dolphins who call Atlantis home. You’ll enjoy a full day’s access to the water park itself, too. It has wave riders, 1 km of private beaches and over 30 slides and attractions. Open from 9.30 am until sunset, Dolphin Bay experiences start from AED 625.

best places to swim with dolphins

Akaroa, New Zealand

If it’s an all-natural experience you want, Akaroa is one of the best places to swim with dolphins. Head out on a boat tour and swim with the world’s smallest and most rare breed of dolphin: the Hector Dolphin. With boat trip prices starting from $155 with Black Cat Cruises, anyone over the age of 8 can swim with the dolphins in the wild. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get out in nature and see the area in a small, intimate group setting. You’ll have a tour guide with you who will fully narrate the experience, and there are toilets on board as well as covered seating options. There is so much to see during this experience! Dive into the cool water and say hello to these lovely little dolphins, on this once in a lifetime experience…

The Azores

For another chance to swim with dolphins in the wild, head to the Azores. The sea is calm between May and September, and is full of dolphins. With seven different species, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to swim with them here. You can head out week-long trips, get used to the environment and learn all about these fascinating creatures from knowledgeable tour guides. You’ll fall in love with the area, the scenery and the beautiful marine life – it really is one of the best places to swim with dolphins in the wild!

The best places to swim with dolphins

As you can see, there are many places around the world that will enable you to swim with dolphins. However, remember that some places are better than others and that you should never take part in any wildlife tourism activity that puts the animals in harm or that cause distress. You may not always see this first-hand, but a little bit of research should help you to determine whether the facility practices ethical tourism or not.

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