Dolphin watching in Algoa Bay, South Africa

Top six places to see dolphins in the wild


Looking to catch a glimpse of dolphins in the wild? Here are the top six places where you can see dolphins on your next holiday.

Image credit: Raggy Charters

If you’re looking to experience the unique beauty and majesty of dolphins in their natural environment, this is for you.

Here are six designated and candidate Wildlife Heritage Areas you can visit on your holiday to witness dolphins and help protect them in the wild:

1. Whitsundays, Australia

Nestled within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Whitsundays are home to four species of dolphins and six species of whales. You can see bottlenose dolphins all year round and may even spot some spinner dolphins, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and snubfin dolphins here at this aquatic playground for marine animals.

2. Hervey Bay, Australia

Hervey Bay is home to Australian humpback dolphins who are a little smaller than the usual bottlenose dolphins. You can easily recognise these intelligent animals by the hump and elongated fin on their backs. This site is also famous for its ethical whale watching tours, so there’s plenty to see here.

3. Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Dolphins in the wildWild dolphins in New Zealand. Credit: Adrien Aletti

Marlborough Sounds is a candidate site that has five species of dolphins, including orca, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, dusky dolphins, and the iconic Hector’s dolphins which are one of the smallest and rarest dolphins with rounded dorsal fins that are unique to this species. Located on a key whale migration route, you’ll be sure to spot some whales here too. 

4. Algoa Bay, South Africa

Algoa Bay was named the Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World in 2016 and is home to over 600 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. You can spot the rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in the shallower areas of the bay, often with newborn calves. You can also see common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and many species of whales here.

Dolphin watching in Algoa BayDolphin watching in Algoa Bay. Credit: Raggy Charters

5. Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

At Golfo Dulce, you can see the resident and non-resident dolphin populations all year round. You’ll be able to see bottlenose dolphins closer to the shore here, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot some of the pantropical spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins too.

6. The Santa Barbara Channel, USA

The waters of the Santa Barbara Channel are teeming with marine wildlife. It is home to a variety of dolphins such as bottlenose dolphins, false killer whales, killer whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and common dolphins. You can also witness an incredibly diverse variety of whales here.

Why you should never see dolphins in captivity

Our upcoming ‘Waves of Profit’ report reveals the heartbreaking and often untold backstory of dolphins in captivity.

Many of them are ripped from their families in the wild during an annual six-month-long dolphin hunt from September to March in Taiji, Japan, and sold across the globe.

Our investigators found that captive dolphin entertainment is the primary profit driver for these gruesome dolphin hunts. As a tourist, you can help by never seeing dolphins in captivity.

A life in captivity entertaining tourists and performing circus-style tricks for food is no life for a dolphin. A small, barren pool can never compare to their vast ocean home.

Together, we can keep dolphins in the wild, where they belong.

Dolphins in the wild

Dolphin facts

Did you know that some dolphins can swim up to speeds of 50kph and regularly dive to depths of up to 55 metres?

Captive dolphin show

Stop travel giants selling cruelty

Help us demand GetYourGuide, Traveloka,, and TUI Musement stop the sale of cruel wildlife experiences.

Dolphin in captivity at Sea World

Pledge to defend captive dolphins

Promise to not visit attractions that use wild animals for entertainment and only see dolphins in the wild where they belong.

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