As dawn and dusk grace the warm waters of Virginia Beach, a hallmark scene unfolds of glistening fins and playful splashes.
The culprit? Bottlenose dolphins.
So, where to go for spotting and swimming with dolphins in Virginia?
From boat tours to sunset kayaking, there are a number of unique ways to experience these beautiful animals.
Let’s dive in!
Related Reading: Top Tours In Virginia Beach
About Dolphins in Virginia
The Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins make Virginia’s coastal waters their home.
This happens particularly during the summer months (from May to September). And, with their distinct gray bodies and renowned playful nature, it’s a scene worth witnessing.
Swimming in large pods or paired with mothers and their young, these dolphins offer a captivating spectacle for those fortunate enough to be present.
Beyond their playful demeanor, they embody the essence of the Atlantic coast.
These dolphins usually grace the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with their presence, with the coast of Virginia Beach being a prime spot to experience dolphins.
Such an occurrence makes the state a prime destination for marine enthusiasts seeking close encounters with these magnificent marine mammals.
How To See and Swim With Dolphins in Virginia
So, are you curious about the best spots to splash around with dolphins in Virginia?
Generally, swimming directly with dolphins in the open ocean isn’t usually recommended.
Yet, we’ve got some fantastic alternatives for you to get close to these playful beings.
Below are a few of the coolest ways to get close and see dolphins in Virginia, whether that’s riding on boats, paddling in kayaks, or just hanging out by the docks.
Dolphin Boat Tours
Imagine going on a dolphin cruise to see an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin up close. It’s tons of fun, isn’t it?
For that, you’ll need to try one of the dolphin tours in Virginia Beach.
There’s a wide range of boat tours for dolphin spotting, so here are a few of the most popular:
- The Virginia Aquarium, near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, offers Dolphin Watching Boat Tours. You can choose between the low-riding Atlantic Scout for a closer dolphin-viewing experience or the 90-minute tour on the Atlantic Explorer.
- Rudee Tours also has some great choices for those who like smaller boats. It’s one of the oldest and most experienced tour companies in Virginia Beach, offering options such as the Rudee Flipper and the Rudee Whaler.
- The Rudee Rocket Dolphin Trip offers a one-hour ride on a fun speed boat. It’s perfect for families and kids. While you search for dolphins near Virginia Beach, the tour also takes you to landmarks like the Cape Henry Lighthouses.
Kayak Dolphin Tours
Do you want to get closer to dolphins? Try a guided kayak dolphin tour or stand-up paddle board (SUP).
Here are some of your options:
- Companies like Chesapean Outdoors and GoKayak! can take you on a fun tour on paddle boards or in individual kayaks. Through these tours, you get to paddle near Rudee Inlet with local guides and see dolphins, among other coastal animals.
- Tula Sports also takes you on kayak tours in the Chesapeake Bay area. It’s a bit calmer there, and you might see dolphins, eagles, and sea turtles. You can also go to the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or stay close to the beach.
- Small group dolphin kayak eco-tours can take you on journeys from North End Beach. During this time, you can paddle beside dolphins and catch glimpses of an immense variety of seabirds, bald eagles, and other wildlife along the coast. Some tours use easy “sit-on-top” kayaks, perfect for everyone regardless of skill level.
- There are also Sunset Dolphin Kayak Tours available. They take you on two-hour kayak rides in the Chesapeake Bay at sunset. Not only will you paddle alongside dolphins, but you’ll also enjoy the view of famous landmarks like the Cape Henry Lighthouses.
Parasailing Dolphin Spotting
If you love excitement, try parasailing!
Luckily, a few companies can take you up high above the water. You might not always see dolphins, but it’s a fantastic way to look for them from way up high! Here are our top suggestions:
- For an adrenaline-pumping experience, consider Adventure Parasail. This tour option often departs from Rudee Inlet. Not only does it provide an exhilarating ride, but it also offers a unique vantage point to spot dolphins below.
- If you’re in the mood for a great experience, Pirate Parasail is another exciting option. It also departs from Rudee Inlet. What better way to spot dolphins than from the skies alongside the majestic seabirds? It definitely makes for a magical moment.
Dolphin Spotting from the Docks
For a more relaxing time, you might want to head to the Chesapeake Bay Beach area. Over there, you can enjoy dinner and watch dolphins.
For example, you can try the Back Deck restaurant. It’s an excellent place looking over Wolfsnare Creek. Such a spot offers excellent drinks to sip on while enjoying potential dolphin sightings. It’s like having dinner with a dolphin show!
While dolphin tours are just some of the ways for spotting and swimming with dolphins in Virginia, other tours offer alternative novelty experiences in the Old Dominion–like learning about ghosts, witches, and pirates in Williamsburg or zip lining through the wetlands in Virginia Beach.
The opportunities to enjoy miles of coastline, dolphin sightings, popular boat tours, and even learn about some of the conservation initiatives, are nearly endless.
From boat tours to kayaking adventures, Virginia offers many ways to connect with such enchanting marine beings.
Usually, swimming directly with dolphins may be reserved for the open ocean. However, the alternatives mentioned offer unique ways to experience these intelligent creatures.
So, whether you choose the serenity of kayaking or the exhilaration of parasailing, Virginia guarantees a good time out in the marine environment.
For more unique Virginia travel experiences, you can also check out:
- Best Virginia Beach Boat Tours
- Top Tours In Williamsburg VA
- Unique Tours In Virginia Beach
- 25 Best Attractions In Virginia
- Top 15 Virginia National Parks
Thanks for reading!
Swimming With Dolphins In Virginia FAQs
Are there dolphins in Virginia?
Yes, Virginia is home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, particularly in the summer months of May to September.
Does Virginia Beach have dolphins?
Yes, Virginia Beach is known for its dolphin population, especially around dawn and dusk.
First Landing State Park, False Cape State Park, and the Oceanfront are a great place to see large groups of dolphins in their natural habitat.
What’s the best time to see dolphins in Virginia Beach?
The best time to see dolphins in Virginia Beach is between Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September.
What time of year are dolphins at Virginia Beach?
Dolphins are commonly spotted around Virginia Beach, particularly in the summer months of May to September.
How long is the dolphin tour in Virginia Beach?
The duration of dolphin tours in Virginia Beach may vary, so it’s best to check with the specific tour operator for the exact duration.
Most dolphin tours tend to be a 90-minute excursion.
Where can you swim with dolphins near Virginia?
Swimming with dolphins near Virginia is not a common activity, but there are dolphin-watching tours available that offer the opportunity to see these graceful creatures in their natural habitat.
If you’re swimming in the ocean waters, you might see a pod of dolphins nearby. But, keep in mind that sharks tend to trail behind dolphins for scraps of their food.