Embarking on a dolphin-sighting cruise while in Florida is a must. Whether you live there or are just visiting, everyone – young and old – should experience this at least once in their lifetime.
Located right on Causeway Boulevard, just south of the central roundabout in Clearwater Beach, you will find a lineup of Tiki Huts – most of which are dolphin sighting tours and fishing excursions. One of those Tiki Huts belongs to Encounters with Dolphins – one of the best cruises you will find!
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by friendly staff who assist everyone to get checked in and organized. Depending on what time your cruise is booked for, you might have a short wait on shore while the boat returns from its previous outing. Such was the case with our experience. When it arrived, there was no mistaking the watercraft considering the whimsical dolphin on top. Photos were taken during the embarking process and were available for purchase after the tour, for a cost of $10 that includes a keychain and the photo printout.
On board, there was comfortable seating and, to shade guests from the intense Florida sun, an awning that covers the entire boat. Our tour lasted approximately one hour and 45 minutes, but we noted that it passes fairly quickly considering passengers are so preoccupied with spotting dolphins and trying to capture that perfect photo. Our first glimpses were of dolphins following other dolphin cruise boats (specifically the Sea Screamer as noted in our video below) and closer to the Clearwater Causeway we began to see dolphins peeking their heads out of the water from time to time. We attempted to follow along to get a better view. Our captain informed us that dolphins respond and come out of the water upon hearing a strange or unfamiliar noise, so casually the passengers on the tour started hooting and hollering to get their attention – and it worked!
Throughout the tour, both our captain and first mate informed us of the natural wildlife and historical background of the Clearwater area so the tour had an educational component in addition to being a lot of fun. They also highlighted several homes that belong to celebrities (including John Travolta), which was cool to see. All the homes back onto Clearwater Harbor and feature stunning views.
At one point in the tour, we stopped at Compass Island for approximately 30 minutes. At the island, there are a variety of activities that are suitable for all ages, including shelling, swimming, and snorkelling, which is provided without charge. If you participate in the tour between April and September, the temperature is perfect for such things. After the conch horn blew, we returned to the boat and continued our narrated tour back to the Clearwater Beach Marina.
This experience comes with reasonable pricing. Adult tickets are $19.75, children (ages 4-11) tickets are $14.25 and infants (ages 3 and under) are free. An assortment of snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board the boat. A light jacket, hoodie or sweater is recommended to take along with you if you’re visiting between September and April as it does get chilly on the water. And you might want to consider sunglasses and sunscreen…. as well as your camera!
For more information, visit the website: www.encounterswithdolphins.com
Check out a clip of our experience, right here in our video.
Review Article and Photos by Marisa Filippo