Swimming With Dolphins In Virginia Beach: How To Guide 2023

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If you’re looking for a unique experience to swim with dolphins in Virginia Beach, then you’re in luck, because there are many options for you! 

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are commonly spotted around Virginia Beach, VA, particularly in the summer months of May to September. Dolphins are playful, smart, graceful, beautiful, and an incredible sight to see up close!

They tend to swim in large pods, or you may see them paired with a mother and younger children swimming together. 

Some of the best ways to see these incredible animals are by boat tours, which will allow you to safely see dolphins up close. 

For an even more intimate experience, I recommend going on a dolphin kayaking tour. 

(Top photo courtesy Rudee Tours.)

Rudee Dolphin Tours - one of the best ways to swim with dolphins at Virginia Beach
Source: Rudee Tours

Can You Swim With Dolphins In Virginia Beach?

While it’s generally not possible or safe to physically swim with dolphins in the open ocean, you can do the next best thing by going on a dolphin kayaking tour or dolphin boat tour. 

There are many great options around Virginia Beach. 

Best Places To Swim With Dolphins In Virginia Beach

There are several ways to see dolphins in Virginia Beach. You can book a kayak tour for the most intimate dolphin experience. In a kayak, you will be much closer to the water and to the animals. 

Many tours use “sit-on-top” kayaks, which are even easier to use for all experience levels!

You can also take a boat tour. A small boat tour in particular will still give you an up-close view of these amazing sea mammals but with more of the comforts of a boat experience (including drinks and food on many boat tours!)

Either way, you can’t go wrong for an unforgettable experience.

Below are some of my top recommendations for the best places to swim with dolphins in Virginia Beach. 

📍 Dolphin Kayak Eco-Tour

This two-hour tour leaves from North End Beach and gives you an opportunity to paddle in a kayak beside dolphins. Along the way, you can also spot other seabirds and wildlife along the coast and in the water. 

The tour uses “sit-on-top” kayaks, which are perfect for people of all experience levels! Even if you’ve never gone kayaking before, you should have no trouble navigating the waters and seeing dolphins up close.

📍 Sunset Dolphin Kayak Tour

If you want an even more incredible experience, you can go on a dolphin kayak tour at sunset! This magical experience will give you the opportunity to go on a kayak ride in the Chesapeake Bay and watch the sunset at the same time!

The tour lasts approximately two hours and leaves from Virginia Beach. It is an intimate, small-group tour. Along the tour, you can spot dolphins in the water, as well as other famous local attractions like the Cape Henry Lighthouses and Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. 

📍 Go Kayak! Paddle With a Porpoise!

Go Kayak! gives you another unforgettable opportunity to go kayaking with dolphins! The tours last 2 hours and leave from First Landing State Park. 

Go Kayak Tours - one of the best ways to swim with dolphins in Virginia Beach
Source: Go Kayak!

Along the tour, you’ll get a chance to kayak in the calm waters of Broad Bay, where you’ll often see not only dolphins, but also bald eagles, ospreys, sea turtles, sting rays, pelicans, herons, and egrets.

The tours all have an experienced guide leading the way and teaching you more about the wildlife and habitat. 

📍 Rudee Boat Tours

Rudee Boat Tours is one of the oldest and most experienced boat tour companies in Virginia Beach. They have several special dolphin-watching tours that you can book. 

📍 The Dolphin Watching Tour lasts for about 1.5 hours and includes multiple departure times throughout the day, including morning and afternoon departures.

Your tour guide on the trip is also able to provide expert guidance on the marine animals you see along the journey!

📍 Ruddee Rocket Dolphin Trip is perfect for kids and families. You get to ride on a fun speed boat while searching for dolphins near Virginia Beach. The tour lasts one hour, and also stops by landmarks like the Cape Henry Lighthouses. 

📍 The Pelagic Wildlife Excursion offers the most intensive wildlife tour. It lasts 13 hours and journeys all the way to Norfolk Canyon, which is 70 miles offshore and is home to many animal species. 

Depending on the conditions and the time of year, you may see whales (including fin whales, sperm whales, and beaked whales), dolphins (Risso’s dolphins, pilot whales, common dolphins, and Atlantic spotted dolphins), sea turtles (loggerhead and leatherback), and seabirds (shearwaters, petrels, and terns).

You can learn about even more boat tours in Virginia Beach

📍 Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium also offers several Dolphin Watching Boat Tours. 

They have a low-riding boat called the Atlantic Scout that you can take on tour for an even closer dolphin-viewing experience! The boat tour is 70 minutes long and leaves from the Aquarium Boat Dock near the outdoor seal exhibit.

You can also book a 90-minute tour on the Atlantic Explorer. 

After you go on the boat tour, make sure you explore the aquarium, which features sharks, rays, sea turtles, seals, a Komodo dragon, and much more. 

What To Consider When Choosing

There are a few things to consider before deciding what dolphin experience is best for you. 

Is it safe to swim with dolphins?

It is generally not recommended to go swimming directly in the water with dolphins. Dolphins often swim in large pods in the open water, and water conditions can be hazardous. 

Also, as with any direct interaction in the wild, human interactions could negatively affect dolphin behavior. 

When interacting with dolphins by boat or kayak, it is best to keep a safe distance and allow them the space to behave as they normally would in their natural environment. 

What risks are there for dolphins when they swim with humans?

Dolphins can be adversely affected by swimming with humans. Their behavior can be impacted and altered through direct human interactions. 

Dolphins can also be injured by boats. If you are driving a boat, always be aware of your surroundings. If you are near dolphins or other marine life, keep a safe distance and avoid sudden movements or changes in direction that could confuse the animals.  

I would recommend booking a tour with a licensed and experienced guide to help ensure that your safety and the safety of the dolphins are taken into account. 

What To Expect When Swimming With Dolphins

Taking a boat ride or kayak ride with dolphins is an incredible, unforgettable experience! Though I have not been in the water with dolphins, I have gone on multiple small boats and zodiac trips to be about as close to dolphins as you can be without physically being in the water with them. 

Each experience was nothing short of magical. In fact, you can see some of my experiences with dolphins below! 

Dolphins can swim in large pods, sometimes as large as 10 or more dolphins. They swim swiftly and playfully, often right beside the boat. They’re often so close that you can almost touch them! 

I have also had the good fortune to see mother dolphins with their younger babies, teaching them how to dive and swim. Dolphins are incredibly intelligent, playful, curious, and fun to watch. 

If you get an opportunity to take a boat ride with dolphins, you will have an amazing experience that is likely to be a highlight of your vacation.

And if you get to go on a kayaking trip with dolphins, you’re in for an even more intimate and special treat. Kayaks allow you to get even closer to the water and to the dolphins. 

Visiting Virginia Beach: FAQs

Before you plan your next trip to Virginia Beach, here are some things to know to help you get the most out of your vacation. 

How much does it cost to swim with dolphins in Virginia Beach?

The cost to go on a Virginia Beach Dolphin Boat Tour can cost as little as $27 per person. The cost to go on a Virginia Beach kayaking tour is generally around $68. 

What time of year are dolphins at Virginia Beach?

Dolphins can be found at Virginia Beach during the summer months of May through September. 

What kind of dolphins are in Virginia Beach?

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins can be found at Virginia Beach. They are one of the best-known dolphin species. They are known for their gray bodies.

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are commonly found along the Atlantic coast and in the Chesapeake Bay. 

How many days do I need in Virginia Beach?

4 to 7 days is a good amount of time to spend in Virginia Beach. There are many restaurants, shops, and water activities around town.

Where to Stay in Virginia Beach

If you’re looking for a place to stay on your next vacation in Virginia Beach, VA, then check out some of my top recommendations below!

Hyatt Place Virginia Beach Town Center

Hyatt Place is a great place to stay in Virginia Beach. It has a central location near the boardwalk and beach, plus it has great amenities like a pool, fitness center, and included breakfast.

🛏️ Book your stay at the Hyatt Place Virginia Beach Town Center by clicking here! 🛏️

Coastal Hotel & Suites Virginia Beach – Oceanfront

Coastal Hotel & Suites has a perfect location right next to the boardwalk and ocean! It also has a swimming pool, hot tub, and a great breakfast.

🛏️ Book your stay at the Coastal Hotel & Suites by clicking here! 🛏️

Conclusion: Swim With Dolphins In Virginia Beach

As you can see, there are many ways that you can safely swim with dolphins in Virginia Beach! 

Having an opportunity to be so close to these incredible creatures will make your next trip to Virginia Beach truly unforgettable. These experiences are truly special and will stay with you for a lifetime. 

Learn about even more great things to do in Virginia Beach!

The Best Virginia Beach Boat Tours


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