Wondering where is the best place for diving with dolphins? Look no further!
In this post, I will share all the most amazing spots where you can scuba dive with these incredibly funny cetaceans and the best liveaboards for an incredible full-time adventure in the ocean.
It’s hard not to love dolphins. If you have ever been on a beach or boat when dolphins pass, you know that everyone from young children to adults to the captain of the boat will be excited.
We are all mesmerized by how dolphins seem to be smiling, playing, and having fun.
Plus, we know that dolphins are incredibly smart and have complex social relationships.
While you could have a random dolphin encounter in many parts of the world, there are certain areas where you will have a much better chance of seeing them.
If you are ready to make your dream of swimming with a dolphin come true, keep reading to learn about the best places to dive with dolphins.
And of course, we want to highlight that we don’t promote places where dolphins are kept in captivity so please avoid those ones. And if you don’t dive we will also share places where you can swim with dolphins in the wild.
The Best Places for Diving with Dolphins
You can find dolphins all over the world. There are 36 species of dolphins, and they live in a diverse range of aquatic environments. You can find dolphins in coastal areas, open oceans, and even in freshwater.
But, just because they live all over, does not mean you have the same chance of diving with them everywhere.
All divers know that it is never a guarantee to see animals on a certain dive, but you will have the best chance of spotting them in certain areas.
If you want to swim with dolphins, you will have the best chance of seeing them in these spots.
👉🏽 The Bahamas
The Bahamas is an archipelago made up of nearly 700 islands that are located about 100 kilometers southeast of Florida. Out of the 700 coral islands, 30 are inhabited.
Visitors flock to enjoy the pristine white sandy beaches and clear water in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas have a rich history, including being a prime spot for pirates between the 1600-1700s.
The Bahamas have long been a favorite destination for scuba divers due to its warm and clear waters.
There is no shortage of things to enjoy while snorkeling in the Bahamas, including colorful coral reefs, dramatic walls, caverns, and shipwrecks.
All of these areas are filled with wildlife.
For many divers, a major draw to visiting the Bahamas is the chance to see sharks.
If you are looking for dolphins, the Bahamas is a great place to visit.
One of the best areas to find dolphins in the Bahamas is near Bimini. There it is common to find Atlantic Spotted dolphins playing in the warm, shallow waters.
You can also find other species of dolphins in the Bahamas, including spinner, spotted, striped, and bottlenose dolphins.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in the Bahamas
One of the best parts of the Bahamas is that it has great diving year-round.
The weather stays consistently great all year round, with warm water to swim in.
Many divers choose to visit the Bahamas in the winter months because that is the best time of the year to see different sharks.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in the Bahamas
The Bahamas are famous for the variety of sharks you can see there.
Shark lovers visit the Bahamas in hopes of seeing some of the 40 different varieties of sharks that visit the area.
From October to January you have the chance to see Tiger sharks, and from December to March is hammerhead shark season.
You can also see silky sharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks, and bull sharks there.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in the Bahamas
You can do land-based diving in the Bahamas, but if you want to get out, and explore some of the remote and best islands for diving, a liveaboard is a great option.
Here are the best Bahamas liveaboards for seeing dolphins:
Enjoy up to five dives a day on this luxury liveaboard that can accommodate up to 14 guests.
You can choose between 8-day / 7-night or 11-day / 10-night itineraries that take you to Exuma Cays and Southwest Eleuthera.
During certain times of the year, the boat will go to Tiger Beach and Bimini to look for sharks and dolphins.
Guests on the Aggressor love the great service that the crew provides.
Blackbeards’ Morning Star liveaboard is a budget-friendly way to experience the best diving in the Bahamas.
The boat runs 7-day / 6-night itineraries where you will stay in shared dormitory rooms and with communal bathrooms and showers.
This liveaboard does not follow a set itinerary- your captain and crew will take you to the spot they believe will have the best diving.
You will have the chance to make up to 19 dives on this trip- including wall dives, drift dives, blue holes, and shark dives!
The Dolphin Dream liveaboard departs from Florida on 7, 8, or 9-day excursions.
The liveaboard has room for 12 guests and has a comfortable dive platform that makes it easy to get in and out of the water.
Guests will have the chance to dive with sharks and snorkel with dolphins in addition to diving on beautiful coral reefs.
👉🏽 Galapagos Islands
It is not a secret to scuba divers- the Galapagos Islands are one of the top spots to see incredible marine life.
The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador.
To get there you must first fly into Quito or Guayaquil and then take a flight to the islands.
The Galapagos is made up of 127 different islands, of which 4 are inhabited.
These islands are known for their rich animal diversity and are home to the marine iguana, Galapagos Tortoise, and Galapagos penguins among others.
Three ocean currents meet at the Galapagos islands, bringing mineral-rich water and cold, deep currents that attract a huge variety of marine life.
Among others, it is possible to see bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and spinner dolphins
There is a group of dolphins that are known to hang out in shallow waters around Fernandina Island.
✔️ Best time of year to dive with dolphins in the Galapagos
There is great diving all year round in the Galapagos.
Many divers prefer to visit in the Southern hemisphere summer months of December to June when the water is warmer, and a bit calmer.
The summer months generally have better visibility.
Other divers prefer to dive in the slightly rougher, colder water in the months of June to October because there is the best chance of seeing whale sharks.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in the Galapagos
The Galapagos are world famous for their impressive marine diversity.
If you want to see large pelagics, this is a great spot to visit. In addition to a variety of dolphins, you can see a variety of sharks, including white-tip, black-tip, Galapagos, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks.
In addition to sharks, you also have a good chance to see manta rays, eagle rays, and schools of tuna and wahoo.
While diving the Galapagos you also can see marine iguanas and small creatures such as sea horses.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in the Galapagos
The best liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands offer day-trip diving excursions for people visiting; however, if you want to see the best marine life there, you will need to go on a liveaboard.
Liveaboards take you away from the inhabited islands to even more remote spots where you will have the best chance of seeing big marine life. Here are the top Galapagos liveaboards:
This comfortable liveaboard was designed by divers to create a comfortable diving experience.
It has 9 cabins and can accommodate 16 guests.
The 8-day / 7-night itineraries will take you to see the best diving the Galapagos has to offer with visits to Darwin and Wolf Islands.
The Tiburon Explorer is part of the Green Fins conservation and sustainability program and your Galapagos travel itinerary includes two land excursions to see giant tortoises and endemic birds.
The Majestic Explorer is a comfortable way to explore the Galapagos Islands.
It offers 8-day / 7-night itineraries that will take you to Darwin and Wolf Islands as well as Cabo Douglas and Cousin’s Rock.
You will dive from two large tenders, and when not diving can relax in the common areas, sun deck, and hot tub.
This boat can accommodate up to 16 guests.
The Calipso liveaboard was completely renovated in 2019 and gives divers a luxury diving experience.
The 8-day / 7-night itineraries will take you to the famous Darwin and Wolf islands, as well as several exploratory sites.
This boat visits Marchena Island, a place that was previously only visited by scientists and filmmakers and is home to a large pod of dolphins!
The spacious boat has 6 cabins and plenty of common areas for socializing and relaxing between dives.
👉🏽 Socorro, Mexico
Located 400 kilometers to the southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the Islas Revillagigedo are made up of four islands and are commonly referred to by the name of one of the islands – Socorro.
The Socorro Islands are famous for the large animals that frequent the area.
Most dive sites are composed of rocky structures, pinnacles, and walls, and it is common for divers to find a protected spot out of the current and simply watch the parade of wildlife that passes by.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in Socorro
Liveaboards visit the Socorro Islands from November to May.
During this time, there is always a good chance of spotting dolphins.
However, the best months for dolphin encounters are from January to March. During these months it is common for there to be a plankton bloom.
This lowers the visibility but attracts different animals who come to feast on the plankton.
It is common to see bottlenose dolphins during these months.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in the Socorro Islands
The Socorro Islands are nicknamed the “little Galapagos” because of the amazing variety of wildlife you can find here.
You have the best chance of seeing whale sharks if you dive into the Socorro Islands in November or December.
December to April is the season for seeing humpback whales.
The Socorro Islands are famous for their friendly manta rays. These giant rays often get close to scuba divers- even playing in their bubbles!
You can see them all year round, but they are most common in the spring months.
Regardless of when you visit, you can expect to see sharks.
The Socorro Islands are visited by Galapagos, silky, white-tip, and hammerhead sharks.
You will often see schools of jacks and barracuda and it is common to spot tuna, wahoo, and marlin. As you can see, there is no shortage of amazing marine life there.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins at the Socorro Islands
The only way to visit the Socorro Islands is on a liveaboard.
It takes about 24 hours to cross from mainland Mexico to the islands, so most liveaboards have itineraries of at least 8 days.
Here are the liveaboards to visit the Socorro Islands:
The Nautilus Bella Amie offers guests amazing service on their trip to the Socorro Islands.
The boat can accommodate 32 guests and has 17 en-suite staterooms and suites and lots of common areas for relaxing between dives.
This boat was designed for open ocean crossings to help guests stay comfortable.
This is a high-end way to dive Socorro with a large dive deck and 3 large dive tenders.
Quino el Guardian liveaboard offers great value for cost for trips to the Socorro Islands.
The boat can accommodate 16 divers and has 4 quad cabins, communal bathrooms, and large indoor and outdoor communal areas for socializing.
The boat has two pangas that divers will use to get to dive sites that each have its own captain.
The Valentina Liveaboard was refitted in 2013 for guests’ comfort.
It is now a strong and stable boat to take you out to Socorro.
It has 10 cabins, a comfortable dining area and a sun deck.
The crew of the Valentina works hard to make sure you have fun and stay safe while diving into the Socorro Islands.
Hawaii is an archipelago made up of 137 volcanic islands.
These islands stretch over 2,400 kilometers and are located 3,200 kilometers from the mainland United States of America.
Hawaii is known for its amazing beaches where you will find a variety of sand colors, including white, green, pink, and black.
Hawaii offers visitors opportunities to bike, hike, and get in the water.
There is a huge variety of wildlife in Hawaii, including 13 species of dolphins.
The most commonly sighted dolphins are spotted, rough-toothed, and spinner dolphins.
Spinner dolphins attract a lot of attention with their acrobatics, including surfing waves and swimming in the wake behind boats.
Kona and Oahu are great destinations for seeing dolphins while in Hawaii.
Kona has groups of resident dolphins that live both close to shore and others that live further offshore- giving you plenty of opportunities to spot them while snorkeling or scuba diving.
The calm west coast of Oahu is great for snorkeling and frequently visited by spinner dolphins.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in Hawaii
You can see dolphins all year in Hawaii.
Many locals recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of April to May and August to November because there are fewer visitors.
You will have the chance to visit less crowded dive and snorkel spots and hopefully see playful dolphins passing by.
✔️ Other pelagics you can see in Hawaii
You can see a variety of different animals when diving in Hawaii.
The most notable pelagics you may encounter are manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
Lucky divers will also see monk seals, turtles, and a variety of fish such as barracuda.
✔️ Best liveaboards to dive in Hawaii
Right now there are no liveaboards offering trips in Hawaii.
Thankfully, there are a lot of things to do in Hawaii and you can still enjoy great diving there.
You can set up day trips to go out and dive into the amazing waters off of the islands of Hawaii.
👉🏽 Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat means the four kings, referring to the four main islands in the Raja Ampat archipelago.
The archipelago comprises over 1,500 islands in the South West Papua province of Indonesia.
The islands of Raja Ampat straddle the equator and are in the heart of the Indo-Pacific Coral Triangle- the area with the richest marine biodiversity on earth!
This means that there is a truly unbelievable amount of wildlife to see there.
While diving Raja Ampat you will find fish of all different sizes and colors, macro, colorful hard and soft corals, and even muck areas.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in Raja Ampat
Liveaboards in Raja Ampat run from October to May.
June to September is monsoon season, which means there is lots of rain and wind and the seas are too rough to navigate safely.
Most of the resorts in Raja Ampat close during this time and liveaboards do not run trips.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is an amazing destination for seeing marine life.
Raja Ampat is one of the best diving spots in the world that has amazingly beautiful reefs that are home to a huge variety of animals, including endemic animals such as the Epaulette Shark- which looks like it is walking along the ocean floor.
If you can take your eyes off the coral reef for a moment, you will have the chance to see manta rays, bump-head parrot fish, great barracuda, and Napoleon wrasse swimming by.
Lucky divers can see dolphins, whales, white-tip, black-tip, and grey reef sharks.
While not pelagics, it is worth noting that Raja Ampat is a great place to look for small creatures too. You can find a variety of nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, and batfish!
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in Raja Ampat
Enjoy a luxurious trip to some of the best diving in the world on the Emperor Raja Laut liveaboard.
This traditional Indonesian phinisi is made of tropical hardwood and can accommodate 12 guests in its 6 cabins.
The boat offers 8-day / 7-night or 10-day / 9-night itineraries.
In addition to the diving, guests love the beautiful boat and attentive crew.
This traditional Indonesian phinisi is made entirely of ironwood and teak and was refurbished in 2016 for the diver’s comfort.
The boat can accommodate 14 divers and has 7 cabins and 2 sundecks for relaxing.
The boat has a trained chef to prepare delicious meals, and a large dive tender to comfortably move divers to dive sites.
It offers 12-day / 11-night and 13-day / 12-night itineraries.
👍🏼 La Galigo
This beautiful 33-meter Indonesian phinisi was built in 2012 with the diver’s comfort in mind.
It has 7 guest cabins and lovely outdoor spaces for relaxing.
The boat has a dive platform at the back as well as 2 dive tenders.
Experienced dive guides will help you spot an amazing range of critters.
👉🏽 Red Sea, Egypt
The Red Sea in Egypt is a great place to see colorful coral reefs and an amazing variety of marine life.
The Fury Shoal reef system stretches 9 kilometers from north to south and 30 kilometers from east to west and includes 20 different coral banks.
This is a popular area for scuba divers because it offers everything from shallow dives that are perfect for beginners to dives with steep drop-offs, currents, and even wrecks.
The Satay Reef is located in the south of the Fury Shoal system and is a great place to see dolphins.
This 5-kilometer-long reef is near a calm lagoon that has a resident pod of dolphins.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in Egypt
The Red Sea offers great diving all year round.
Many divers prefer the summer months of May to November for their warm water temperatures and calm ocean.
There are dolphins all year in the Red Sea, but it is easier to spot them in the summer months when the water is calm.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in Egypt
The Red Sea is known for its colorful coral reefs, but there are also plenty of large pelagics that frequent the area.
Look for manta rays and several different shark species including white-tip, hammerhead, and thresher sharks.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in Egypt
Liveaboards are a popular way to dive into the Red Sea- you will get plenty of time in the water to soak in the abundant marine life and colorful coral reefs.
Here are the best Red Sea liveaboards:
The Tillis is a comfortable way to visit the Red Sea.
It has room to accommodate 26 divers in its 13 cabins. There are comfortable common areas and a spacious dive deck.
The Tillis offers 8-day / 7-night itineraries all year, visiting different areas of the Red Sea.
Guests love the enthusiastic crew who work hard to take you to the best dive spots.
The SS Glorious Miss Nouran is part of the well-established Sea Serpent Fleet in the Red Sea.
This modern liveaboard goes to many different areas in the Red Sea, and you can choose your ideal 8-day / 7-night itinerary.
The boat has 13 cabins to accommodate up to 26 guests plus plenty of spacious common areas.
The Blue Liveaboard offers guests a luxurious experience on a modern boat.
It can accommodate up to 24 guests with 12 cabins. The boat offers 8-day / 7-night itineraries where divers are able to do up to 21 dives on the trip.
The boat travels to all the best destinations in the Red Sea.
👉🏽 French Polynesia
French Polynesia is on many diver’s bucket lists of places to visit.
It is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean- 6,000 kilometers east of Australia and 7,500 kilometers west of Chile!
French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands and atolls surrounded by crystal-clear water and an amazing variety of marine life.
One of the most famous islands is Tahiti, but there are several other islands that divers visit.
There they can find colorful reefs filled with tropical fish, manta rays, lots of sharks, and dolphins!
If you are serious about diving with dolphins, make sure to visit Rangiroa Atoll.
Here it is common for dolphins to swim with divers, sometimes even playing with them!
✔️ Best time of year to dive with dolphins in French Polynesia
You can dive all year in French Polynesia, but the best conditions are from March to November.
This is when the islands get less rain, and the visibility is the best.
December and January are the rainiest months, so it is best to avoid going then.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in French Polynesia
There is no shortage of marine life to look at while diving in French Polynesia.
There are at least 16 different species of shark that visit the islands of French Polynesia, including grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, lemon sharks, and blacktip sharks.
It is possible to see manta rays there too! You can also find schools of jacks and barracuda, turtles, and eagle rays there.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in French Polynesia
You can do day dive trips from resorts in French Polynesia, but a liveaboard will let you explore more remote dive sites. Here are the two main liveaboards to choose from in French Polynesia:
Built in 2016, the French Polynesia Master will take you to pristine, untouched dive sites.
The boat has 13 cabins to accommodate up to 25 divers as well as a spacious shaded lounge and sundeck.
There is a large dive deck to make getting in and out of the water easy.
This liveaboard is great for people who want to see the best of French Polynesia.
👍🏼 Aqua Tiki II
The Aqua Tiki II is a catamaran that was launched in 2011.
It offers guests a personalized and intimate experience with a room for just 8 guests.
In addition to scuba diving, you will spend your days walking on pristine beaches, doing water sports, meeting locals, and sailing.
The Aqua Tiki II’s chef will prepare fresh food daily to add to a luxurious experience.
Australia is known for its amazing animal life, both above and below the surface.
Whenever people think of scuba diving in Australia, they automatically think of the Great Barrier Reef; however, great diving in Australia is not limited to that area.
Different areas of Australia all offer amazing dive opportunities, and if you want to see dolphins, you should head to the west side of Australia.
Ningaloo Reef is located on the remote west side of Australia, about 1,200 kilometers north of Perth.
The Ningaloo Reef is a fringing coral reef that stretches 260 kilometers long.
There you will find amazing coral and great animal life ranging from huge whale sharks to small macro.
If you are staying in Perth, you can check out the resident pod of local dolphins.
If you are staying near Sydney, you can still see some dolphins.
Just a few hours north of Sydney is the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.
There you can look for common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.
It would be impossible to see all the great diving in Australia in one trip.
The amazing reefs and marine life attract dolphins to several different areas.
✔️ Best time of the year to dive with dolphins in Australia
You can visit most of the dive sites in Australia year-round.
The sites of the southern areas of Australia can have bad weather from May to October, but other areas will not be affected.
✔️ Other pelagics you can find in Australia
There are countless pelagics you can find in Australia.
If you dive on the west side of Australia, in addition to dolphins, you can find whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, and turtles.
If you are diving on the Great Barrier Reef you can see whale sharks, hammerheads, sperm whales, dwarf minke whales, giant grouper, barracuda, and turtles.
✔️ Best liveaboards to see dolphins in Australia
With so many different areas to explore, there is no shortage of liveaboards in Australia. Here are some of the best liveaboards to help you spot dolphins:
This catamaran was designed to offer a unique experience exploring the Ningaloo Reef off of Western Australia.
Trip itineraries range from 3 to 8 days, and take divers away from crowds to explore this colorful reef.
The boat can accommodate up to 10 guests, ensuring a personalized and unique experience, and dive groups are kept small.
Depending on when you go, you can see whale sharks and humpback whales. It is always possible to see manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, and dolphins.
This liveaboard has room for 12 guests and will take them to some of Cairn’s most beautiful dive locations.
The boat has exclusive access to 28 mooring on the Outer Great Barrier Reef.
This liveaboard is perfect for divers of all experience levels as most dive sites have a shallow and deep section.
Divers who visit this area can see stunning coral walls filled with fish, turtles, reef sharks, and dolphins. This boat offers 2-day / 1-night itineraries.
The Spirit of Freedom is a 37-meter liveaboard that has something for every diver’s budget.
You can choose between 3,4, and 7-day itineraries that will take you to the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea reefs, or on a special expedition to the far north.
This expedition will take you to remote, untouched reefs. The boat has 11 cabins and plenty of common areas to relax between dives.
There is a spacious dive deck to make getting in and out of the water comfortable.
Diving with Dolphins practical tips
Humans are fascinated with dolphins. They are smart, playful, and have sophisticated social structures.
It’s no wonder that so many people dream of diving with them. Here are a few practical tips to help your dream come true:
📌 Do your research. While it is true that dolphins can be found all over the world, there are certain areas that they seem to prefer to hang out in.
If you are hoping to spot dolphins on your next dive trip, plan a trip to a destination known for dolphin sightings.
Give yourself the best chance of seeing them by choosing when and where to go.
📌 Have realistic expectations. Even if you have done your homework, there is always the chance that you will go somewhere and not see dolphins.
As a diver, it often seems that the dive guides tell us all about the great animal sightings that happened ‘last week.’
As disappointing as that can be, it is the nature of scuba diving.
We are there to witness nature, and animals will move around as they wish.
Just remember, this is what makes a special dolphin sighting that much more memorable!
📌 Treat dolphins with respect. Yes, dolphins are playful and often seem to make eye contact with divers.
Still, it is our responsibility to passively observe them, not try to touch or interact with them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Diving with Dolphins
Can you dive with dolphins?
Yes, there are countless dive destinations around the world where you have the chance to dive with a dolphin.
Remember, dolphins are wild animals, so sometimes they will quickly swim past you, and other times they will swim around and give you a show- it’s completely up to them!
Can you see dolphins while scuba diving?
Yes, you can. Scuba divers love to visit coral reefs and areas that are filled with marine life- and so do dolphins.
Many areas that attract large pelagic animals will attract dolphins.
Where is the best place to swim with dolphins?
There are great places to swim with dolphins all over the world.
Some of the best scuba diving spots to see dolphins are the Galapagos Islands, Socorro Islands, Bahamas, Australia, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, and French Polynesia.
However, make sure you don’t choose to swim with dolphins kept in captivity as this practice is a multimillion-dollar business that does lots of harm to these beautiful animals.
How much does it cost to swim with dolphins?
We only recommend swimming and diving with dolphins in nature.
This means that the cost to swim with them is the cost of your dive or snorkel excursion.
We do not promote swimming with captive dolphins.
Is it legal to swim with dolphins in the US?
Yes, it is legal to swim with dolphins in the US.
There are no laws that protect dolphins against being in shows at aquariums or dolphin-swim attractions.
Although it is legal to swim with dolphins in the US, we do not believe it is a good practice.
As scientists study dolphins more, it has become obvious that these intelligent, socially sophisticated animals suffer in captivity and should not be used for human entertainment.
Is it safe to swim in the ocean with dolphins?
Yes, it is safe to swim with dolphins in the ocean.
Similar to most marine animals, dolphins do not present threats to humans.
However, they are still wild animals and should be treated with respect.
Dolphins who are stressed or feel they are being attacked could potentially attack a human being.
This is even more reason to give them space and enjoy watching them without getting too close!
Final Thoughts: Diving with Dolphins
Dolphins are incredible creatures. They have long fascinated and amazed humans with their smiling faces, intelligent eyes, and complex social behaviors.
Divers dream of getting to see them playfully swim past us on dives, and there are many places in the world where you have the chance to make your dream come true.
The best part of this is, the places where you have the best chance of seeing a dolphin are overall amazing dive destinations.
Travel to any of these spots and you will see amazing reefs and a huge variety of pelagic animals.