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The Best Place To Swim With Dolphins In Florida Keys + Bonus Options

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

Hey there, fellow ocean enthusiasts! Looking for the best place to swim with dolphins in Florida Keys? If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably dreamed about sharing the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Keys with some of its most friendly and intelligent residents – dolphins!

Are you planning your trip to the Florida Keys last minute?


If you are booking your trip to the Florida Keys last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

⭐Top Experiences and Tours in the Florida Keys:

  1. Snorkel Adventure and Sandbar (the top seller!)
  2. 1.5 Hour Waverunner Tour (Highly rated!)
  3. Sunset Cruise from Cheeca Resort (Gorgeous Photos!)
  4. Glassbottom Boat Tour (So popular!)
  5. Key West Sunset Sail & Full Bar (Live music too!)
  6. Key West Shark Adventure (For adrenaline junkies)

🛌  Top Hotels in the Florida Keys:

  1. The Capitana Key West (Key West)
  2. Tranquility Bay (Middle Keys)
  3. Bakers Cay Resort (Upper Keys)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around the Florida Keys? Click here to check rental car rates for Florida!

Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the best places to swim with dolphins in the Florida Keys. Get ready to dive into some seriously unforgettable aquatic adventures!

As long-time Florida residents, frequent travelers to the Keys, and self-confessed dolphin aficionados, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting many of these incredible facilities over the years. Trust us, we know a thing or two about what makes for a truly magical dolphin encounter.

We’ve gathered our expertise, insights, and some insider tips to help you find the perfect spot to make your dream of swimming with these amazing creatures come true. So, let’s jump in and explore the best dolphin experiences the Florida Keys have to offer!

Best Place to Swim with Dolphins in Florida Keys

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

If you’re planning a trip to the Florida Keys and want to swim with dolphins, you’re in luck! There are several to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If we had to pick one, our top pick for swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys would be the Dolphin Research Center, known for its focus on research, education, and conservation.

However, there are plenty of amazing options in the area, each offering unique experiences to explore the captivating world of dolphins.

Let’s dive in below to discover a variety of exceptional dolphin encounters available in the Florida Keys, and find the perfect adventure to create unforgettable memories while connecting with these magnificent creatures.

1. Dolphin Research Center

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

The Dolphin Research Center, nestled on the picturesque Grassy Key in the Florida Keys, is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote the understanding, conservation, and protection of dolphins and other marine animals through research, education, and public outreach. This unique facility provides visitors with an unforgettable opportunity to get up close and personal with these intelligent and captivating creatures.

At the Dolphin Research Center, guests have the chance to swim with dolphins in their natural saltwater lagoons, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that fosters an emotional connection with these amazing animals. The center’s well-trained and knowledgeable staff ensure a safe and educational encounter, offering insights into the dolphins’ behavior, communication, and biology.

Beyond swimming with dolphins, the Dolphin Research Center also offers a variety of interactive programs and activities, such as:

  1. Sea Turtle Encounters: Visitors can learn about the importance of sea turtles in the marine ecosystem and participate in hands-on activities like feeding these gentle reptiles.
  2. Dolphin Painting: Watch in awe as dolphins create one-of-a-kind paintings using specially designed brushes and non-toxic paints. This activity not only showcases the dolphins’ intelligence and creativity but also raises funds for the center’s research and conservation efforts.
  3. Educational Presentations: The center offers various educational presentations, covering topics such as marine mammal physiology, conservation, and research. These talks aim to increase public awareness of the challenges faced by marine animals and inspire action to protect them.
  4. Trainer-for-a-Day Program: For those who want to dive deeper into the world of marine mammal care, the center offers a comprehensive Trainer-for-a-Day program. Participants will shadow professional trainers, learning about animal husbandry, training techniques, and the daily care of dolphins and sea lions.
  5. Research and Conservation Efforts: The Dolphin Research Center is committed to advancing our knowledge of marine animals through ongoing research projects, focusing on areas like dolphin cognition, communication, and social behavior. The findings from these studies contribute to the global understanding of these species and inform conservation strategies.
  6. Wildlife Rehabilitation: The center also serves as a rehabilitation facility for injured or sick marine animals, providing essential medical care and helping these animals return to the wild when possible.

Visiting the Dolphin Research Center not only offers a unique and unforgettable experience with marine animals but also supports the center’s efforts to protect and preserve these incredible creatures for future generations. By engaging in these educational and interactive programs, visitors leave with a deeper appreciation for dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life, as well as a sense of responsibility to protect our oceans and their inhabitants.

2. Theater of the Sea

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

The Theater of the Sea, situated in the picturesque Islamorada in the Florida Keys, has been delighting visitors since 1946, making it one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world. This world-renowned attraction offers a unique opportunity to interact with various marine animals in a breathtaking environment, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these remarkable creatures.

At the Theater of the Sea, guests have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim with dolphins, sea lions, and even sharks in a safe and supervised environment. These intimate encounters are designed to promote education and conservation while providing a thrilling and unforgettable experience.

In addition to these close-up interactions, the facility is home to a diverse array of other marine animals, including sea turtles, stingrays, and crocodiles. Guests can observe these animals in their naturalistic habitats and learn about their biology, behavior, and the vital role they play in the marine ecosystem.

For those interested in an immersive educational experience, the Theater of the Sea offers guided tours of the facility led by knowledgeable staff. These tours provide valuable insight into the care and conservation efforts undertaken by the facility to ensure the well-being of their animals and the preservation of their natural environments.

A key highlight of any visit to the Theater of the Sea is the variety of entertaining and educational animal shows that captivate audiences of all ages. These shows not only showcase the unique skills and intelligence of marine mammals but also emphasize the importance of conservation and the need to protect these incredible animals and their habitats.

Beyond the animal encounters and shows, the Theater of the Sea features beautiful gardens, a private lagoon beach, and gift shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and educational materials. The facility also hosts special events and programs throughout the year, such as summer camps and holiday-themed events, to engage the local community and visitors alike.

The Theater of the Sea is dedicated to the preservation and well-being of marine animals while offering unforgettable experiences that foster a lifelong love and respect for these awe-inspiring creatures. Visitors to Islamorada should not miss the chance to experience this unique facility and create lasting memories with the enchanting marine life that calls it home.

3. Island Dolphin Care, Hawks Cay – Dolphin Adventure

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

Island Dolphin Care, situated in the picturesque Key Largo, Florida, offers an unforgettable experience for those who have always dreamed of swimming with dolphins. The facility not only caters to the general public but is also dedicated to providing life-changing dolphin-assisted therapy for children with special needs. This unique program is designed to improve the lives of these children by building their physical, emotional, and cognitive skills through interaction with these intelligent and gentle marine creatures.

Visitors to Island Dolphin Care can expect a variety of activities and learning experiences. In addition to swimming with the dolphins, guests can embark on a guided tour of the facility. This tour offers an in-depth look at the therapy programs, the trainers’ techniques, and the incredible bond that forms between the children and the dolphins. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about the fascinating lives of dolphins, their behavior, and the vital role they play in the marine ecosystem.

Hawks Cay – Dolphin Adventure, located at the luxurious Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, offers a similar experience to Island Dolphin Care. This facility also provides guests with the chance to swim with dolphins in a safe and supervised environment, making it a must-visit destination for families and marine life enthusiasts. While Hawks Cay – Dolphin Adventure may not primarily focus on dolphin-assisted therapy, it is an equally memorable and educational experience.

At Hawks Cay – Dolphin Adventure, participants can choose from various programs that cater to different age groups and swimming abilities. These programs may include dolphin swims, feeding sessions, and educational encounters where visitors can learn about dolphin anatomy, communication, and conservation efforts.

Both Island Dolphin Care and Hawks Cay – Dolphin Adventure offer unique experiences that blend the excitement of close encounters with dolphins and a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures. While Island Dolphin Care stands out for its commitment to dolphin-assisted therapy for children with special needs, both facilities provide unforgettable opportunities for visitors to connect with dolphins and create lasting memories.

Other Great Places to Swim with Dolphins in Florida Keys

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

Dolphins Plus Bayside

If you’re seeking a closer connection with one of nature’s most intelligent and beloved creatures, Dolphins Plus Bayside offers a fantastic opportunity for an unforgettable experience. Located in a picturesque setting, this world-class facility specializes in providing unique and interactive programs that allow you to engage with dolphins on a personal level.

With a variety of programs on offer, there’s something for everyone, regardless of age or swimming ability. Some of the popular options include:

  1. Swimming with the dolphins: In this exhilarating experience, you’ll have the chance to swim alongside these majestic creatures, feeling their smooth skin as they glide through the water. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in various dolphin behaviors, such as dorsal tows and belly rubs, while learning more about these fascinating animals.
  2. Painting with dolphins: Unleash your creativity alongside your newfound aquatic friends in this one-of-a-kind artistic endeavor. Using non-toxic, environmentally friendly paint, you’ll work together with a dolphin to create a beautiful and unique piece of art that you can take home as a memento of your special experience.
  3. Dolphin training: Ever dreamt of working with dolphins as a trainer? This program allows you to get up close and personal with the dolphins and learn about their care, training, and behavior from experienced professionals. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of these intelligent creatures and even have the chance to participate in training sessions, teaching the dolphins new behaviors and skills.
  4. Educational programs: Dolphins Plus Bayside is dedicated to promoting education and conservation. As part of their commitment to these causes, they offer educational programs for children and adults alike, aiming to inspire a passion for marine life and a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving our oceans.
  5. Photography sessions: Capture the magic of your dolphin encounter with professional photography services available on-site. This way, you can relive your unforgettable experience and share it with friends and family for years to come.

The knowledgeable and friendly staff at Dolphins Plus Bayside are committed to ensuring that your visit is a memorable one. They are passionate about the animals they care for and are eager to share their expertise with visitors. They prioritize the well-being of the dolphins, adhering to strict guidelines and maintaining the highest standards of animal care.

Dolphins Plus Key Largo

In addition to the amazing experiences offered at Dolphins Plus Bayside, their sister facility, Dolphins Plus Key Largo, provides even more opportunities to interact with and learn about these remarkable marine mammals. Located in the heart of the beautiful Florida Keys, Dolphins Plus Key Largo is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and lush tropical scenery, making it an ideal setting for unforgettable dolphin encounters.

Some of the popular programs and offerings at Dolphins Plus Key Largo include:

  1. Structured and Natural Dolphin Swims: Similar to the swimming programs at Dolphins Plus Bayside, Key Largo offers both structured and natural swims, catering to various preferences and comfort levels. In a structured swim, you’ll participate in interactive behaviors with the dolphins, while a natural swim allows you to observe and swim with the dolphins in a more freeform environment.
  2. Dolphin-Assisted Therapy: At Dolphins Plus Key Largo, they believe in the healing power of dolphins. Their Dolphin-Assisted Therapy program is designed to provide a unique therapeutic experience for individuals with special needs. By interacting with dolphins in a safe and nurturing environment, participants can experience physical, emotional, and psychological benefits.
  3. Marine Science Education Programs: Dolphins Plus Key Largo is dedicated to fostering a love and appreciation for marine life through engaging educational programs. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities, attend lectures, and learn about various aspects of marine biology, conservation, and research from passionate experts in the field.
  4. Snorkeling Tours: To further immerse yourself in the stunning marine environment of the Florida Keys, Dolphins Plus Key Largo offers guided snorkeling tours. Explore the vibrant coral reefs and discover an array of colorful fish and other marine creatures while snorkeling in the warm, clear waters.
  5. Research and Conservation Initiatives: Both Dolphins Plus locations are actively involved in scientific research and conservation efforts. By participating in their programs, you’ll not only have an incredible experience but also contribute to the understanding and preservation of marine ecosystems.

With its diverse range of programs and idyllic location, Dolphins Plus Key Largo offers visitors another fantastic option for connecting with dolphins and immersing themselves in the captivating world of marine life

Dolphins Plus Oceanside

Building upon the fantastic offerings at Dolphins Plus Bayside and Key Largo, their sister facility, Dolphins Plus Oceanside, presents even more opportunities for unforgettable dolphin interactions. Nestled along the pristine oceanfront in Key Largo, Dolphins Plus Oceanside boasts a tranquil atmosphere, where the soothing sounds of the ocean and the sight of gently swaying palm trees create a truly immersive and relaxing experience.

Some of the unique programs and features available at Dolphins Plus Oceanside include:

  1. Dolphin Splash and Wade: This program is specially designed for those who prefer to remain in shallow water while interacting with dolphins. Participants will have the opportunity to touch, feed, and play with these intelligent creatures from a waist-deep platform, making it an ideal choice for families with young children or individuals who are not comfortable swimming in deeper waters.
  2. Dolphin Research Programs: Dolphins Plus Oceanside actively participates in cutting-edge research projects focused on dolphin behavior, cognition, and communication. By visiting the facility, you’ll have the chance to learn more about these fascinating animals and even observe ongoing research in action.
  3. Sea Lion Encounters: In addition to the amazing dolphin experiences, Dolphins Plus Oceanside also offers the opportunity to interact with playful and charismatic sea lions. During this encounter, you’ll learn about these captivating marine mammals, witness their impressive behaviors, and even have a chance to share a hug or a high-five with your new sea lion friend.
  4. Group Programs and Team Building: Dolphins Plus Oceanside offers a variety of group programs designed to bring people together through shared experiences with dolphins and sea lions. These programs can be tailored to accommodate school field trips, corporate team-building events, or any group looking to create lasting memories while learning about marine life and conservation.
  5. Eco-tours and Kayak Rentals: Embrace the natural beauty of the Florida Keys with guided eco-tours and kayak rentals available at Dolphins Plus Oceanside. Paddle through the serene mangrove forests, explore the diverse coastal ecosystems, and witness a wide array of native wildlife up close.

Dolphins Plus Oceanside, along with its sister facilities Dolphins Plus Bayside and Key Largo, is committed to providing memorable and educational experiences for visitors of all ages. With its peaceful oceanfront location, Oceanside offers a serene setting to connect with dolphins, sea lions, and the enchanting marine world. No matter which Dolphins Plus facility you choose to visit, you can be assured of a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the chance to create unforgettable memories.

Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

For those seeking even more aquatic adventures, Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures offers a diverse range of marine experiences designed to captivate and inspire visitors of all ages. Located in close proximity to the Dolphins Plus facilities, Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures invites you to explore the awe-inspiring underwater world of the Florida Keys, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Some of the exciting programs and features available at Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures include:

  1. Guided Dolphin Snorkel Tours: Experience the vibrant underwater world of the Florida Keys with expertly guided snorkel tours. Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures’ knowledgeable guides will lead you through crystal-clear waters to explore the breathtaking coral reefs, teeming with colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine life. Suitable for all skill levels, these tours are a fantastic way to discover the beauty of the Keys’ underwater ecosystems.
  2. Scuba Diving Trips: For those who want to delve deeper into the ocean’s depths, Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures offers scuba diving trips for both novice and experienced divers. Led by certified instructors, these diving excursions will take you to some of the most pristine dive sites in the Florida Keys, where you can explore fascinating shipwrecks, swim alongside exotic marine creatures, and marvel at the stunning coral formations.
  3. Marine Wildlife Safaris: Hop aboard a comfortable and well-equipped vessel for a thrilling marine wildlife safari. Led by experienced captains and naturalists, these safaris will take you on a journey to observe a variety of marine animals in their natural habitat, such as dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and numerous bird species. Learn about their behaviors, habitats, and conservation efforts while enjoying the picturesque scenery of the Florida Keys.
  4. Sunset Cruises: Enjoy the beauty of the Florida Keys as the sun sets over the horizon with a relaxing sunset cruise. Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures’ sunset cruises are the perfect way to unwind after a day of ocean exploration, offering a serene and tranquil atmosphere as you witness the sky transforming into a canvas of colors. Keep an eye out for dolphins playfully swimming alongside the boat, adding an extra touch of magic to your evening.
  5. Private Charters: For those seeking a more personalized experience, Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures offers private charters for snorkeling, scuba diving, or sightseeing trips. Customize your adventure to fit your preferences and enjoy a unique and exclusive ocean experience with your friends or family.

Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures complements the offerings of the Dolphins Plus facilities, providing a variety of unforgettable marine experiences in the enchanting Florida Keys. With a commitment to education, conservation, and adventure, you can be sure that your visit to Sea Monkey Ocean Adventures will be a memorable and inspiring journey into the captivating world of the ocean

Tips for Swimming with Dolphins in The Florida Keys

best place to swim with dolphins florida keys

Swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys is an unforgettable experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your adventure:

  • What to bring: We recommend bringing a towel, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. You may also want to bring a waterproof camera to capture your memories.
  • What to expect: Swimming with dolphins is an interactive experience, and you will be in the water with the dolphins. You will be given a life vest to wear, and the dolphins will swim around you. The dolphins may even give you a kiss or a hug!
  • How to behave around dolphins: It is important to remember that dolphins are wild animals, and we need to respect their space. Always listen to the instructions of the trainers and follow their lead. Do not touch the dolphins unless instructed to do so, and do not chase them or try to ride them.

Remember, swimming with dolphins is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time with these amazing creatures.

Recap: Swim with Dolphins in Florida Keys

So, there you have it! If you’re in the mood for some seriously unforgettable aquatic experiences, the Florida Keys is the place to be. With opportunities to swim alongside dolphins, you’ll be able to witness firsthand just how intelligent and playful these amazing creatures are. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to splash around with one of the ocean’s friendliest inhabitants?

As you dive into these unique experiences, you’ll not only make memories that will last a lifetime, but you’ll also walk away with a newfound appreciation for our ocean buddies and the marine world. The Florida Keys is truly a haven for anyone looking to get up close and personal with dolphins, so why not jump in and have some fin-tastic fun? After all, life’s too short not to make a splash!

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