Press trip: Marco Island is known for its dolphin sightings, and one of the best dolphin tours on Marco Island is The Dolphin Explorer.
The opportunity to see dolphins in their natural habitat is a rare and special one. My family and I were fortunate enough to experience this firsthand on a recent dolphin-watching tour around beautiful Gulf Coast beaches in Marco Island.
A Dolphin-Watching Experience That Gives Back
Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat is a truly unique experience. Not only are these creatures incredibly intelligent and playful, but they also play an important role in the marine ecosystem.
That’s why I was so excited to take a dolphin-watching tour with a group that is committed to conservation. The money from the tours goes directly to their dolphin study projects, which help them identify each dolphin, their social patterns, travel range, and genealogy.
Seeing the dolphins swimming, jumping, and playing in the water was an unforgettable experience that the whole family will cherish for years to come.
If you’re thinking about visiting Marco Island and, more importantly, taking a dolphin and shelling tour, then here is all the information you need to know about The Dolphin Explorer.
What You Get with the Experience
The Dolphin Explorer dolphin eco-tour lasts for three hours, with tours running at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. You do need to arrive at the check-in booth around 30 minutes prior to your tour time.
During your tour, a knowledgeable guide (we had Bob, the owner and Captain Eddie), who are vibrant characters with a clear love for Marco Island’s marine life, and will join you on this adventure. For us, having a knowledgeable guide was one of the best parts of the tour, as you can ask questions, learn more about the animals, and learn about the landscapes that surround Marco Island.
Throughout the three hours, you’ll cruise the waters of Marco Island along with the estuaries of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in search of dolphins, manatees, and other marine life.
When you do come across the dolphins, the guides will teach you how to identify the animals on a first-name basis—plus, if you happen to spot a dolphin that the guides haven’t yet catalogued, then your boat will get to name it!
After you’ve spotted the dolphins, birds of prey, and Florida’s giant sea cows, the tour will take you to beaches surrounding the barrier islands, where you can go shelling in search of exotic shells.
The Dolphin Explorer tour is an excellent choice for families with little ones, as not only is the boat mostly shaded with a toilet on board for your convenience, but you’ll also receive chilled water, a shelling bag, a photo, and an activity pack to keep kids occupied whilst out looking for the dolphins. Kids also receive a badge after the voyage.
The Dolphin Explorer Pricing and Location
Tickets for The Dolphin Explorer cost $74 per adult, $69 per senior (60+), $59 per child (aged 3 to 12), and $29 for kids under 3.
Address: Rose Marina, 951 Bald Eagle Dr., Marco Island, FL 34145
Other The Dolphin Explorer Marco Island Tour Options
Aside from the Dolphin Study Eco-Tour, The Dolphin Explorer also have two other tour packages for you to choose from:
- Dolphin Sunset Cruise – On certain dates throughout March and April, you can set off on a three-hour dolphin sunset cruise that—instead of stopping on the beach—gives you incredible views of Marco Island’s sunsets. And it’s dolphins, of course.
- Marco Island Fireworks Cruise – On the 4th of July only, The Dolphin Explorer offers a firework cruise where you can see the Fourth of July fireworks from the water with a free American flag given out to all guests to get you in a patriotic mood.
If you are looking for a unique and educational experience, I highly recommend taking a dolphin-watching tour. It is an experience that you will never forget!
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