Dolphin watching tips

Chantel Kyriakopoulou-Beuvink from our expert dolphin-watching operator Natural Greece

Alonissos Marine Park

“I’ve just returned from the Aegean and seen the work being done out there first hand. In the Alonissos Marine Park we have several dolphin species including bottlenose, common and striped (and much less frequently, the Cuvier’s beaked dolphin), along with lots of other wildlife. Birdwatchers will be thrilled here – 85% if the world’s population of Eleonora’s falcon breeds in Greece, for example. Then there are the rare monk seals, we have around 60 of them, and turtles. The marine life here faces many threats, from overfishing to getting entangled in nets, to pollution and collisions with boats. We work closely with MOm (the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal) and the North Aegean Dolphin Project to counter this and we’re very excited that recent research shows an increase in dolphin populations here.”

Day to day volunteering

“Our volunteers begin their holidays with a presentation from a marine biologist, outlining what they will be seeing and doing and why. On the boats, everyone has their own section of water to monitor, and when a sighting is made we photograph the dolphins, observing their behaviours, the length of the sightings, and try to identify the species by their physical characteristics. If weather prevents sailing then we may be working on the database, or out and about in the marine park – there are trails to hike, you can snorkel with the fish, you really notice that you’re in a marine park.”

Traveller types

“We get a lot of different types of travellers. We’re seeing many solo travellers at the moment and we’re well geared towards them, but also families – our minimum age is 11, and for teenagers there is nightlife around too which they tend to love! We had a lady aged 65 recently too, so it appeals to all. And the food is fabulously fresh. I had the best briami (ratatouille) I ever tasted.”
Amanda Stafford of The Dolphin and Whale Connection is the guru of dolphin watching in the Azores:

Dolphin swimming and watching

“We see bottlenose, common, stripped and Risso’s dolphins off the Azores all year round, and spotted dolphins in the spring too. With a good pair of binoculars you can often see them from land, which is a good option if the sea is choppy, but really you want to be out on the boats. I always try to emphasise to people that swimming with dolphins is not to be underestimated, it can be challenging in the waves. On the boats, the dolphins get so close that it feels like you’re swimming with them anyway.”

Responsible dolphin watching

“The number of boat licenses is limited and there are various organisations that push back whenever there are attempts to increase it, which is something we support. The Azores also has regular checks on how many boats are in the water, how long they’re out for, their angle of approach and the distance they keep from the dolphins. We are really hot on following up any negative feedback from our guests too. And the reason for that is very simple: if you treat these animals with respect you get much better encounters.”

Our top Dolphin watching Holiday

Mull wildlife holiday in Scotland

Mull wildlife holiday in Scotland

Ultimate week of wildlife spotting on the Isle of Mull

From £950 to £975 7 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made from late April to the end of September
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Dolphin watching or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Advice from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful dolphin swimming advice and dolphin watching tips that our travellers have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Be aware that this holiday is on the dolphins' terms not yours! Accept what they give you without any preconceived ideas.
- Lynn Macdonald
Get out every single time you can, you can't see wild dolphins + whales + fish + turtles in Oxford Street. Take an underwater camera - even as a first time amateur, I got some amazing shots. - James Bromley

Cancel and send me instead! No seriously go prepared for all weathers. Wet suits and layers, sun cream, hats. You might need them. - Amanda Kirby

Be flexible, we were unlucky with weather so it was difficult to plan as the boat times kept changing, also sometimes you go out for a few hours and see very little. However the skippers are brilliant and do their best - when you do see the animals it is all worthwhile. - Emily Norton
Do pull-ups and press-ups so you can get back into the boat - most people struggled!
- Sunita Mason
Take a selection of gear, closed shoes, flip flops, light towels that dry easily etc... - Victoria Johnson

Take good snorkelling gear and the fitter you are the more you will enjoy swimming. Don't be afraid - it seems scary but in reality it's not! - Michele Pink

It's not a cultural or beach holiday, but purely for seeing dolphins and taking it easy. This was what we wanted, but some other people on the trip expected more. So, make sure you know what the trip is about. - Sigrid Mikkelsen

This isn't Disneyland, if you want to get touchy feely with dolphins, this is the wrong holiday. They don't do tricks. If you want to appreciate the beauty of these creatures, then this is the right holiday and you'll enjoy a humbling, enriching experience. - Anthony Wedlake
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Jeremy Ricketts] [Alonissos Marine Park: Kostas Limitsios] [Dolphin swimming and watching: Mike Baird] [Review 1: Wynand Uys] [Review 2: Ewen Roberts]
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