Swimming with dolphins often ranks highly on top 10 ‘do before you die lists’. Swimming with these graceful, intelligent creatures is supposed to be good for the soul and their friendly nature can’t help but bring a smile to even the most insensitive people. For children, it is a dream come true. Children respond to dolphins as if they were swimming with the family pet and instantly feel relaxed and at ease.
Bottlenose dolphins are the most friendly and confident and enjoy engaging with humans. However, they only live in certain parts of the world, favouring warmer calmer waters. So where in the world are the best places to not only catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures, but to also get up close and personal with them in the water?
Close to home
You don’t need to book a long-haul flight to the tropics; you can swim with dolphins as close to the UK as Portugal. The cool waters of the Atlantic warm up as they mix with the warmer waters flowing from the Mediterranean. The sheltered southern Portuguese coastline is calm and full of fish and dolphins favour these waters over the crowded and largely fishless Mediterranean.
A little further a field
The Red Sea is teeming with marine life from rainbow coloured fish to stealthy reef sharks. It also happens to be full of dolphins that play around the reefs and wrecks and has a well-stocked ocean to feed from. The warm waters mean you can spend hours swimming with the dolphins without getting cold and even if you don’t get to see any dolphins, the rest of the sea is so colourful and full of life that you won’t feel too disappointed.
Florida is the original home of Flipper, the first internationally recognised friendly face of the dolphins. The Florida Keys have one of the healthiest dolphin populations in the world and are often the key members of international studies and research projects. Again, the waters are warm and fish are plentiful, but with the frequency at which the dolphins appear means you have almost no chance of not seeing a dolphin. Florida dolphins love human attention and show off with jumps and tricks accordingly.
If you want to book a trip to any one of these dolphin destinations, check out the range of holidays on offer from Thomas Cook.