How to Swim With Dolphins in Tampa, Florida

How to Swim With Dolphins in Tampa, Florida
How to Swim With Dolphins in Tampa, Florida
Though swimming with dolphins in Tampa Bay is not an option, there are still opportunities to observe dolphins in their natural habitat during your visit. If you have your heart set on swimming with dolphins, consider taking a short road trip north to Orlando or farther south to Miami or the Florida Keys.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Things You'll Need:
  • Computer with Internet connection
  • Computer with Internet connection
Step 1

To watch dolphins in their natural habitat, book a spot on Florida Aquarium's Wild Dolphin Ecotour. This tour takes visitors on a 90-minute boat ride through Tampa Bay on a 49-foot powered catamaran. You can only purchase tour tickets at the aquarium on the day of the tour.

Step 2

If you must swim with the dolphins, research options near Tampa. Orlando is about an 1 1/2-hour drive northeast of Tampa. Miami is about a 4-hour drive to the southeast, and the Florida Keys are about a 7-hour drive to the south. In Orlando, you can swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove. In Miami, consider taking advantage of a dolphin encounter at the Miami Seaquarium. There are several places to swim with dolphins in the Keys, including with the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key and with Dolphins Plus in Key Largo.

Step 3

Compare tour companies. Determine what is included with the outing. Consider whether you want to just wade in the water with the dolphins or if you want to be fully immersed, whether meals are included, and whether there are other activities such as animal shows or boat tours. Swimming with dolphin programs typically include an educational portion before the encounter. The actual in-water portion only lasts about 30 minutes. Some companies offer longer "trainer for a day" or "researcher for a day" options as well.

Step 4

Book your encounter. Encounters that involve swimming with the dolphins often book up several months in advance, particularly during the summer.

Step 5

Prepare for your dolphin encounter. Check with the tour company to see what items you need to bring with you. Plan to pack a swimsuit, towel and underwater camera to capture your experience.

A writer and editor based in southeastern Wyoming, Susan Berg has over ten years of experience in the field. Berg earned a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Dayton. Her work has been published in the "Dayton Daily News" and online at websites including,,, and
Anna Cervova