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Dolphin Watching Cruises in Orlando

Orlando may not be a coastal city, but just 2 hours away you’ll find an idyllic barrier island called Clearwater Beach — where bottlenose dolphins frolic in the warm turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dolphin-watching cruises from Orlando are perfect if you want to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and see marine life up close, as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of one of Florida’s most stunning destinations.

Here's all you need to know about dolphin watching, one of the most exhilarating outdoor activities in Orlando.

What are the best dolphin-watching tours in Orlando?

Clearwater Beach dolphin tour from Orlando

Watch as dolphins leap and dive in the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean when you embark on an unforgettable dolphin-watching experience at Clearwater Beach. You’ll board a comfortable dolphin-watching vessel that takes you all the way to Clearwater Pass.

During your boat cruise, the captain will provide you with interesting information about the Gulf Coast, bottlenose dolphins and other forms of marine life. Marvel at the celebrity mansions along the coast and enjoy an entertaining experience that is well-suited for kids and adults alike.

Music plays through the top-quality sound system and there is an onboard bar for the over 21s to enjoy. Roundtrip transport from your hotel in Orlando is provided, so all you need to do is pack your beach bag and enjoy the ride.

Clearwater Beach dolphin speedboat adventure from Orlando

Step away from the busy city of Orlando and spend a fun-filled day at the coast when you choose to join this dolphin-watching speedboat adventure in Clearwater Beach. Everything is taken care of for you by your expert tour guide, allowing you to truly relax!

Your day begins with a convenient hotel pickup by your guide before you make your way to the coast of Clearwater Beach. You’ll enjoy a tasty lunch at one of the promenade’s beachside restaurants before you embark on your narrated speedboat tour.

This speedboat tour gives you the opportunity to see wild bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat. Have your camera ready, as you’re sure to get up close and personal. Before you make your way back to Orlando, you’ll get to spend some time relaxing at the beach.

Clearwater Beach day trip from Orlando with dolphin encounter cruise

Spend a day at the coast and enjoy the transparent waters of one of Florida’s best beaches when you join a Clearwater Beach day trip from Orlando. Your expert guide takes care of everything for you, including round-trip transport from a few select locations.

The highlight of the day is undoubtedly the dolphin-watching cruise, where you’ll get to view bottle-nosed dolphins in their natural habitat. The Gulf of Mexico, where the trip takes place, is known for being home to multiple pods of dolphins, ensuring a sighting.

In addition to your dolphin-watching boat cruise, you’ll also get to spend some time swimming and sunbathing at the beautiful white-sand beach. You’ll enjoy a delicious lunch at a beachside restaurant before you make your way back to the hustle and bustle of Orlando.

How much do dolphin-watching tours in Orlando cost?

Basic dolphin-watching cruises in Orlando typically cost around US$100 per person for a full-day excursion that includes roundtrip transfers, a 2-hour dolphin-watching cruise and lunch.

Slightly more comprehensive experiences, such as the speedboat dolphin adventure, usually cost closer to US$145 per person for this unforgettable experience onboard a speedboat in Clearwater Beach.

What will you see and do?

The main purpose for dolphin-watching cruises in Orlando is to see dolphins in their natural habitat. In the waters around Clearwater, you will typically find gray bottle-nosed dolphins, which are known for being large and very playful.

The Gulf of Mexico is known for being home to many different pods, so dolphin sightings are almost guaranteed. The dolphin-watching vessels allow you to get quite close to the dolphins, so make sure you have your camera ready!

In addition to dolphin watching, most tours also provide time for relaxing at the beach and exploring the promenade, which is home to a variety of charming shops, restaurants and hotels.

What is included?

When you book a dolphin-watching cruise in Orlando, the cost of the tour is typically inclusive of roundtrip hotel transfers to Clearwater Beach, a 2-hour dolphin-watching cruise, lunch at a beachside restaurant and free time spent at the beach.

Keep in mind that gratuities, beverages and any other personal expenses are not usually included in the cost of your trip. You may want to bring along a bit of extra spending money.

Where does it start?

All dolphin-watching excursions in Orlando take place in Clearwater Beach, which is a developed barrier island around 2 hours away from downtown Orlando. Clearwater Beach offers idyllic white sand beaches and its waters are home to plenty of bottle-nosed dolphins.

All tour operators offer roundtrip transfers from your hotel, so your transport to Clearwater Beach is taken care of. Just ensure you are ready and waiting for your tour guide at the stipulated departure time so that you do not keep them waiting.

How long does it last?

While the dolphin-watching portion of the tour typically only lasts 2 hours, the entire excursion usually lasts around 12 hours—which includes travel time, lunch and free time for relaxing on the beach.

If you plan to join a dolphin-watching cruise in Orlando, you should prepare yourself for a full day spent at the coast. While there are a few shorter excursions available, full-day tours allow you to make the most of your time at Clearwater Beach.

Is it wheelchair friendly?

One of the great things about dolphin cruises in Orlando is that most of these tours are wheelchair-friendly. The dolphin-watching vessels in Clearwater Beach are well-equipped for wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility.

When is the best time for a dolphin-watching tour in Orlando?

The best time to go on a dolphin watching tour from Orlando, in areas like Clearwater and Tampa Bay, is from March to October. During these months, the weather is warm, and dolphins are more active and visible. Spring and early summer are especially good, as the waters are clearer and less turbulent.

Which other water activities can be done in Orlando?

Travel tips

  • Popular dolphin tours can fill up quickly, especially in peak season. Book in advance to secure your spot.
  • Wear light, quick-drying clothing. Non-slip shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential.
  • Bring water and maybe some light snacks, especially if it's a longer boat tour.
  • Dolphins are often more active during cooler parts of the day. Opt for morning tours when the waters are calmer, and visibility is better.
  • While many tours have high success rates, wild dolphins are unpredictable. Enjoy the boat ride and the beauty of the ocean, even if you don't spot dolphins.

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