These intelligent, social beings have long held a special place in our hearts – a result of their seemingly-smiling faces, playful frolicking and friendly disposition. Here’s our round-up of some of the best places in the world to swim with them.
Travel bucket list idea:
Swim with dolphins in the Azores
Pico, Azores, Portugal|
This isolated Atlantic Ocean archipelago of 9 individual volcanic Islands is dolphin central and arguably the place to swim with dolphins, for three reasons.
First, it’s sparkling waters are home to five different species: Bottlenose, Atlantic Spotted, Common, Risso’s and Striped. Second, you can swim with them all year round – climate and water temperatures are fairly stable. Third, visibility is excellent, up to 60m.
Trips are led by experienced crews, who are not only experts at finding the dolphins, but who offer up lots of information about these intelligent creatures and how to interact with them.
Getting there & doing it
Tours mainly run from Madalena Harbour on the island of Pico, but also from the islands of Terceira and Sao Miguel. Success rates are up at around 97%.
The dolphins are wild and no lures or bait is used to bring them close to people – they’re naturally curious.
When the dolphins are located, swimmers enter the water two at a time to avoid scaring them. All the equipment you need is provided – just bring a towel. You need to be comfortable using a mask and snorkel.
There’s no minimum age for the tour, but children should be able to swim. Boats are exposed to the elements, so take protective clothing and sunscreen, and sea-sickness tablets if you are prone to it.
When to do it
Tours run all year round, seven days a week, weather permitting
Although temperatures are pleasant all year round, the best time to go is the dry season from June to September, with better light. It’s sporadically rainy from October to April. From November to February, tours will only run when weather conditions permit.
Round-ups that include this experience