1 May 2022
We’ve mentioned many times that Sanibel has boomed in new bookings since last summer. This has led to many first-time visitors who have heard about our little paradise and have decided to finally visit or went when they were kids and want to relive those days and introduce it to the next generation.
One question we have been getting lately is, “Are there any cruises and tours that find dolphins?” The truth is that almost any boat ride you go on has a good chance of having an encounter with wild dolphins. They like to ride the wake boats make and often jump into the air to the cheers of the passengers (which encourage the dolphins to continue). Dolphins can also be seen swimming at various distances close to the shore of the beach, sometimes circling to hunt fish. The younger ones (calves) have been seen frequently jumping into the air as a means of playing (like “look at me”). There’s a better chance of seeing them in the summertime as the Gulf water gets warmer.
Of course, if you’re impatient to wait to see one or more by chance, there are several cruise companies that feature “wildlife cruises” to where dolphins and manatees are known to congregate. One company that specializes in this is the Sanibel Thriller, located at the Sanibel Marina near Gramma Dot’s restaurant. This is a 55-foot motor yacht that speeds through the water like a cigarette boat, and private tours are available as well.
Captiva Cruises also features “dolphin and wildlife cruises,” including a “wildlife sunset” trip, where you could see dolphins, birds and other wildlife. They also feature fishing and shelling cruises and trips to Cabbage Key and Useppa Island, Cayo Costa, Boca Grande, and the Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island.
Adventures in Paradise has several wildlife cruises to see dolphins (morning, afternoon, and sunset) as well as fishing and shelling trips and even paddleboard tours. Their base is on the mainland on Port Comfort Road (you pass it just before the Sanibel Causeway), but they also have an outfitters store on Sanibel (at the Tahitian Gardens Plaza) where you can book your trip. They also feature a trolley with several stops on the island to take you to your cruise and avoid paying the toll again
We hope you get to enjoy the dolphins and other wildlife while you’re on the islands, but please be sure to respect them. Try not to touch any dolphin or manatee, which is considered harassing and illegal. It’s also for your safety, as dolphins have been known to play hard (pulling birds into the water even though they have no intention of eating them). That’s assuming that dolphins would get that close to you; they tend to stay a few feet away from humans in the water. There are two theories as to why the main one is that humans smell bad to them. An old fishing captain shared the other theory: they think the way we swim compared to them is ridiculous.
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