One of Marco Island’s top experiences is going dolphin watching and shelling with Marco Island Boat Tours. And during our most recent trip to the barrier island, I just knew we had to check it out.
Marco Island is a place that I can’t recommend enough, with plenty of family things to do. Beautiful beaches, an abundance of wildlife and a lovely laid back vibe.
A a highlight was definitely spotting dolphins in their natural habitat and collecting beautiful shells from soft powdery beaches.
If you’re thinking about visiting Marco Island, then here is what you can expect by booking a Marco Island Boat Tour. We were invited on as part of a press trip, but as always, opinions are my own.
What the Marco Island Dolphin and Shelling Boat Tour Includes
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The Marco Island Dolphin and Shelling Boat Tour lasts for around two hours. And you’ll be guided by a knowledgeable naturalist who can answer any and all questions you have about Marco Island’s local wildlife.
Our tour guide was named Ed, and he really made the experience even more enjoyable—my kids absolutely loved him!
There are five tours that run throughout the day. So you have the choice of setting off at 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.
If visiting in the summer, I recommend booking the 8:00 a.m. slot or the 5:00 p.m. slot, as the boats have no cover.
If you do choose a slot during the midpoint of the day (like we did – in August!) then know that once the boat gets going, the breeze cools you down significantly—just be sure to lather on the suncream, taking a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of water with you.
During the first part of the tour, you’ll be out on the water looking for dolphins. But you will also spot wading birds like bald eagles, ospreys, herons, egrets, pelicans, and rosette spoonbills.
If you’re lucky, you may even get to see Florida’s famous manatees, which is a truly unique experience.
Once you’ve watched the resident dolphins splashing about in their natural habitat, the tour will take you to an uninhabited barrier island where you’ll learn about the island’s beach dynamics and collect some of beautiful sea shells —a shelling bag is included with the tour!
You’ll spend roughly 30 to 40 minutes shelling. During our tour, we even spotted dolphins playing around on the shores.
To finish off the tour, the boat will take you back to the check-in area, where washrooms and soft drink vending machines are available for your convenience.
Marco Island Boat Tours Pricing and Location
Prices of the Dolphin Tour vary depending on the time of year you go. But expect to pay around $89.95 per adult and $69.95 per child aged 11 and under.
Address: Goodland Boating Park, 740 Palm Point Drive, Goodland, FL 34140
What to Take With You
As the boats are open, you’ll need a hat, sun cream, and sunglasses. But you may also want to take a jacket, especially if you’re heading off on a morning or early evening tour in cooler weather.
As well as sun protection, take plenty of water and snacks. And wear protective footwear that you don’t mind getting wet, as broken sea shells can be quite sharp.
Other Marco Island Boat Tours
Although we only did the Marco Island dolphin tour, Marco Island Boat Tours also has a few different tour options, which we’ll definitely look into for our next trip. Below are the other tours you can choose from:
- Boat-Assisted Kayak Tour – This 3.5-hour kayak tour takes you into the 10,000 Islands Wildlife Refuge to spot dolphins, manatees, and other Marco Island animal species.
- 10,000 Islands Boat Excursion – Similar to the dolphin and shelling tour, however, this tour is longer at 3.5 hours.
- 10,000 Islands Shelling Boat Tour – You’ll spend this two hour tour shelling. And you’ll learn all about how tides and currents affect sea life. You will also get to see dolphins on the way to the islands. But the main focus of the tour is on the sea shells.
- Private Photography and Birding Safari – Photography enthusiasts can head off on this private photography tour to take pictures of Marco Island’s animal inhabitants.
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