One question I'm frequently asked by visitors to Destin is "Where is the best place and the best time to see dolphins?" My answer is usually "Everywhere and any time!" There are an estimated 250-300 bottlenose dolphins living in the coastal waters around Destin year-round and can be seen hunting or playing anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to the quiet bayous near the edges of Choctawhatchee Bay. If you're out on the water for a short time, you are likely to spot a few.
For those who are serious about dolphin watching, there are a few factors that may help you in your quest for a special encounter. These aren’t hard and fast rules or guarantees, but here are some tips to consider, whether you are booking a sailing excursion with us or setting out on your own adventure.
Go For The Sunset Cruise
Dolphins go where the fish are and around dusk many types of fish tend to head in closer to shore. Because of that, pods of dolphins can often be found around the East Pass, outside the jetties and in the bay around sunset. A beautiful sunset on the water makes the experience even better!
Even though dolphins call Destin home year round, spring time is a pretty special time for dolphin watching. That's because dolphins tend to give birth in the spring and they can often be seen in large pods with the calves swimming alongside their mothers. When they are born, dolphin calves average about three feet long, they are darker in color and exhibit white stripes. When you spot them playing in the waves it’s truly a sight to behold.
A Rising Tide
If you’re searching for dolphins around the East Pass in Destin, then try to plan your excursion around incoming tide.
Destin's East Pass connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Choctawhatchee Bay. When the tide pushes in from the gulf, the water in the East Pass and around Crab Island turns that clear, emerald green that Destin is famous for. Usually you can see straight to the bottom, which makes it much easier to spot dolphins, along with any other sea life like turtles, sharks and rays that might be around. Dolphins may still be out during an outgoing tide, it just might be harder to see them. If you want to make sure your trip is during high tide, there are tides tables for Destin that are easily found online, or contact us and we can help you find the best time!
If you have any questions about booking a sailing trip with Fair Winds Sailing Co and want to tailor your trip to a dolphin excursion, contact us and we can help you customize your experience.