10 Best Places to See Dolphins in the Wild

Studies have shown that humans and dolphins actually have a lot in common, psychologically, behaviorally, and societally. Except they are likely actually smarter, but you know. It’s probably why we have a mutual curiosity of each other which always ends in awe inspiring friendships. There are countless stories of pods of dolphins coming to the rescue of a swimmer in distress to keep them above water or even protect them from predators, and it’s also not uncommon to hear of boaters strapping on a life vest and hopping into the sea at the sight of a dolphin caught in a dangerous net. There is no question that we care about each other. This is most likely why the trend of visiting dolphins in their wild and natural habitats instead of the prison tubs some people call theme parks is always moving up in travel and vacation destination popularity. Why anyone would choose to pay and support kidnappers who keep them in abusive conditions instead of putting that money towards a rad vacation out to New Zealand where you can simply go to the local beach and mingle with tons of happy and free dolphins is beyond me. For all of the travel freaks out there who are looking to head into the deep blue and make some new friends in the way they were meant to be, check out 10 of the best places around the world to watch, study or even swim with wild dolphins.

1. Azores

The Portuguese Azores Archipelago has the largest variety of dolphin species present at any time of the year, and pods frequenting this area are known to consist of populations up to 1,000. Since they come close to shore because of the feeding opportunities this is a great location to see wild dolphins. While up to 11 species are present at any given time, the dolphins that visitors are allowed to hop in the water with are the popular bottlenose dolphin, atlantic spotted dolphin (pictured), common dolphin, risso’s dolphin, and the striped dolphin.

dolphins azores

Photo via Flickr/Anthony Pierce

2. New Zealand

Watchers and swimmers alike are almost guaranteed to come across friendly dusky dolphins (pictured) and hectors dolphins, whether they were looking for them or not. It is also possible to see the common dolphin and bottlenose dolphin all year round.

dolphins new zealand

Photo via Flickr/Vemsteroo

3. Bahamas

Depending on the time of year you’ll either see the bottlenose dolphin, atlantic spotted dolphin, spinner dolphin, bridled dolphin, or striped dolphin (pictured), but because of differences in migrations schedules, there will always be at least a couple of species there at any given time.

dolphins bahamas

Photo via Flickr/Project Thalassa 

4. Hawaii

Spinner (pictured) and spotted dolphins around Hawaii are known to ride waves with surfers and put on an air show for those hanging back on the shore.

dolphins hawaii

Photo via Flickr/Sean Davey

5. Egypt

In the Red Sea the most common dolphins to see are the spinner dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, and risso’s dolphin (often mistaken for beluga whales) (pictured), but recently the humpback dolphins have begun to move up from the east coast of Africa too.

dolphins egypt

Photo via Flickr/Jeremy Smith

6. Australia

Off the coast of Australia you’re most likely to find the common dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin (pictured), which is usually the one that comes to mind when people think of dolphins.

dolphins australia

Photo via Flickr/Eric Cheng

7. Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is a great place to see bottlenose dolphins all throughout, and then other species in smaller specific habitats such as the Atlantic spotted dolphin, clymene dolphin, fraser’s dolphin (pictured), and the rough-toothed dolphin.

dolphins mexico

Photo via Flickr/Arctic Al

8. Alaska

Plot twist- killer whales are actually dolphins, not whales. It’s an alias, their real name is orca and of all the dolphin species they are the biggest and the ballerest. Pilot whales are also definitely dolphins.

dolphins alaska

Photo via Flickr/Gerry

9. Tasmania

Tasmania is a great place to go for a boat ride, great for you and the bottlenose and common dolphins (pictured) since they love to ride and play in the wakes you make.

dolphins tasmania

Photo via Flickr/Justin Hart

10. Peru

Peru is one of the few and best destinations to visit Amazon River dolphins, especially the pink ones.

dolphins peru

Photo via Flickr/Keith Sherwood

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