Your Guide to Seeing Dolphins in Destin FL

Two dolphins swimming in the water.

Dolphins are far and away the most popular animals in Destin, Florida! Known for their playful personalities and acrobatic abilities, dolphins are just plain fun to watch. With around 40,000 dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, there are ample opportunities for vacationers on the Emerald Coast to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. To help you make the most of your next getaway, the Henderson Park Inn has put together a handy guide to seeing dolphins in Destin.

Fast Facts About Destin’s Dolphins

Before you go out searching for dolphins, check out these fast facts about the most beloved animals on the Emerald Coast:

• The Gulf of Mexico is home to a number of different dolphin species. The most plentiful species is the bottlenose dolphin, which takes its name from its long snout. Although they are less common, it is also possible for visitors to see Atlantic spotted dolphins, which are famous for their eye-catching spotted coloring.

• Dolphins live in groups (called “pods”) that usually consist of 10 – 30 members. Pods frequently work together to hunt schools of fish.

• Unlike some other coastal communities, Destin has a large population of dolphins that live in the area all year round. The dolphins don’t need to migrate because the Emerald Coast’s waters stay warm throughout the year.

• From late spring through the end of summer, female dolphins from other areas visit Destin for the mating season. This makes this time of year great for dolphin watching!

Tips for Seeing Dolphins in DestinA dolphin leaping out of the water.

While it is impossible to predict the location and habits of wild animals, there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of spying a dolphin. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks:

• The Okaloosa Island Pier is a great spot for watching dolphins. For just $2.00 per person, you can walk the pier and look for dolphins, sea turtles, and other aquatic creatures.

• Other areas that are known for dolphin sightings include Crystal Beach, Eglin Beach Park, Miramar Beach, and Henderson Beach State Park (which is adjacent to the Henderson Park Inn).

• Dolphins are most active at daybreak, from around 10 a.m. – noon, and from around 2 p.m. – dark.

• A good pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens can be invaluable tools for spotting dolphins in the water.

• Renting a pontoon boat can be a fun way to go searching for dolphins. Here are a few of the best boat rental companies in Destin.

• Never touch or feed a wild dolphin, as this can be detrimental to the dolphin and can result in thousands of dollars in fines for anyone caught doing so.

The Best Dolphin Cruise in Destin

If you’re willing to spend a little money, your best bet for seeing dolphins in Destin is to take one of the area’s excellent dolphin cruises. The Southern Star Dolphin Cruise is a hugely popular excursion that has been profiled on National Geographic Explorer and CNN. This 2-hour cruise through Destin Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico features an 80-foot glass bottom boat and lots of insider information about dolphins. The Southern Star’s slogan is “expect a miracle”, so the chances are very high that you’ll see dolphins during your tour.

A couple walking along the beach outside of the Henderson Park Inn in Destin Florida.Where to Stay in Destin

When you stay at the Henderson Park Inn, you will be minutes away from all of the best places to see dolphins in Destin. Voted the most romantic hotel in America by both the users of and, our adults only bed and breakfast is perfect for weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries, or any type of couple’s getaway. To start planning your vacation, browse our selection of Destin hotel rooms!

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