Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat should be on everyone’s bucket list. Watching them elegantly dip in and out of the water with barely a splash is captivating. As they swim alongside the boat and interact with humans, they demonstrate their docile and charming nature.
The most important considerations for dolphin-spotting are choosing an ethical guide and having patience. But you can also give yourself a greater chance of having a magical experience by choosing a destination that is world-renowned for exactly this.
Based on recommendations from travellers from all over the globe, Booking.com’s data experts compiled a data-driven list of the top destinations for dolphin-spotting. So take your pick from the following places to see these phenomenal creatures in their natural habitat.
With hypnotizing sunsets over glistening blue sea and rickety wooden piers, Monkey Mia is a magical destination before you even factor in the chance to interact with the local dolphins. It was established as a marine reserve in 1990 and the animals are still painstakingly cared for. The friendly pod of wild bottlenose dolphins visit the beach daily to interact with humans and it’s known as one of the most reliable and rewarding experiences of its kind in the world.
Not exactly exotic but still home to the UK’s biggest pod of dolphins, regular boat trips run from Newquay out to Cardigan Bay for dolphin-watching. Cruising past the craggy Cornish coastline, you’ll be spoilt for sightings of bottlenose dolphins and other marine wildlife. Newquay Grey Seals are a common sight and if you’re lucky, you’ll come across porpoises and perhaps even orcas, basking sharks and whales.
The variety of dolphins that visit the shores of Oman make Khasab a strong contender for the world’s best dolphin-spotting. Striped dolphins, Rough-toothed dokphins, Spinner dolphins and many more can be frequently seen from the shore, swimming in packs. Take a trip out on a dhow (a traditional wooden-hulled Arabian boat) and you’ll be left speechless at the mighty, ochre rock formations and lime green water, let alone the dolphins swimming by the side of the boat.
Sri Lanka’s rugged, tropical beauty punctuated with palm trees and coral reefs makes it a particularly special place to see dolphins in the wild. Often you’ll see thousands at once, leaping and twirling out of the water. The slender-snouted Spinner dolphin is the most common but you’re likely to spot several others, as well as a whale if you’re patient and quiet enough. You’d be best advised to go when monsoon season is over and the seas are relatively calm.
The Acantilado de los Gigantes (Cliffs of the Giants) along the western coast of Tenerife have become an important tourist attraction on this dazzlingly beautiful island. Its landscape is known for its stark, volcanic nature but these colossal, steep cliffs are particularly breathtaking. And a surreal place to spot dolphins. In the harbour, visitors can set out on a small inflatable boat and get super close to the rich marine life that dwells in the sheltered water.
In Laguna, the local dolphins are not only a spectacle but a valuable asset to local fishermen. Trained to round up fish and drive them into their waiting nets, it is believed that the dolphins have been doing this for over 100 years. In return for their hard work, they’re allowed to feed off the fish that escape the nets.