Where to Swim With Dolphins in Europe
Swimming with dolphins is a popular activity in resort
towns throughout North America and the Caribbean
. Travelers to Europe
, however, will be surprised to find that many countries in the region have banned this practice. With only one exception, dolphin swims in Europe are limited to excursions to swim in open water with wild dolphins. Many of these tour groups guarantee that you will get the chance to swim and interact with these animals on your excursion, but because the animals are not trained, it is an entirely different experience than many are used to. For some, however, swimming with wild dolphins will be the adventure of a lifetime.
The country of Malta is comprised of a group of islands off the coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the only spots in Europe where visitors can legally swim with dolphins in captivity. At the Mediterraneo Marine Park, guests can watch shows featuring trained sea lions, birds and reptiles, but the real draw here is the dolphin swim (Holiday-malta.com/mediterraneo). It requires a separate ticket from regular park admission, and allows guests to swim and play with the dolphins for 1 hour. The swim is followed by a workshop on dolphin life and protection, and guests are given a picture of their swimming experience. You must make an advance booking by phone or email to enjoy the dolphin swim.
Mediterraneo Marine Park
Bahar ic-Caghaq Sliema
Island of Malta
Phone: 011 (+356) 372218
The CW Azores travel company hosts dolphin swimming excursions based from the Azores Islands. Located off the coast of Portugal, these nine islands are a great spot for whale watchers and dolphin fans. True dolphin swims are illegal in Portugal and the Azores, but this group takes guests out on a boat ride to known dolphin locations in the sea. They supervise tour goers as they swim within feet of wild, untrained dolphins. The company claims that on 97 percent of tours, visitors enjoy a substantial dolphin swimming experience. These creatures are untrained and not fed or cared for by tour operators, making this an authentic, unforgettable experience (CWAzores.com).
Phone: 011 (+351) 292 622 622
Visitors to the French Riviera can swim with dolphins in Mandelieu - La Napoule. Here, tour guides take guests out on boats into the Mediterranean Sea. They visit sites where dolphins are known to swim and congregate, and tour guides will escort guests into the sea to swim with the dolphins. Guests are given fins, snorkels and masks to watch these creatures underwater. The animals on this tour are wild and untrained, but the group boasts a high success rate. Those who want to take part in this tour should book ahead by phone or on the company's website (Mandelieu.com/accommodation/vacation-package/dolphins/dolphins.htm).
Phone: 011 (+33) 4 93 93 64 64
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.