Wild dolphins are sociable, speedy sea-dwellers, so the experience you get on your dolphin watching tour is really dependent on them – and on the weather. While dolphins tend to be visible in the same areas year-round, many tours only operate during certain months in order to avoid cyclones, hurricanes and choppy seas – but with ever-less predictable climates, you’ll have to rely on your driver or guide to determine departure times and trip durations.
Each dolphin species has its own unique behaviour – with bottlenose dolphins being some of the most friendly, dusky dolphins of the southern hemisphere being more outgoing and acrobatic, and spinner dolphins being some of the most exciting, as they twist their bodies through the air. Your approach, speed and distance will depend on the species – qualified, responsible skippers should know their dolphins and drive accordingly. Getting as close as possible or approaching from the front will scare the pod away, and ultimately deter dolphins from visiting certain areas – which disrupts their behaviour patterns as well as spoiling the experience for future tourists.
Dolphin swimming trips should have a strictly enforced duration and number of swimmers – and no-one should be allowed to enter the water until the guide can tell the dolphins are at ease. This may be frustrating – but stressed dolphins will disappear immediately, rather ruining your experience. Never approach a dolphin, and do not touch them. If you are lucky they will come up to you – but this is their territory, nothing is guaranteed, and ultimately you are privileged to be here – so just relax, enjoy and learn.