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The Dolphin Explorer

The Finest Dolphin Study / Eco-Tour on Marco Island


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Discovery, exploration, and adventure aboard The Dolphin Explorer!

Join our dolphin research team and get to know the local dolphins on our Marco Island dolphin cruise – both fun and educational! Launched February 1, 2006, the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project is a long-term study of the abundance, distribution, movement, association patterns, and behavior of bottlenose dolphins of Southwest Florida. Located on Marco Island with close proximity to Naples and the Everglades, we offer a one of a kind tour!

The Project is the only on-going study of wild dolphins in SW Florida and the only one in the United States that engages and is supported by the general public.

Using ‘photo-identification,’ our dolphins are recognized by their dorsal fins which act as their ‘fingerprints.’

You have the opportunity to participate in locating, counting, and confirming of individual dolphin sightings on our exciting Marco Island eco-tour. For more about the study, visit our dolphin survey results.

Rated 5 Stars on TripAdvisor

The best tour of our trip!

April 2021 We could not recommend this tour more. It was fabulous! We saw 9 different dolphins multiple times. They love following the boat when we went super fast. The guide and captain were excellent. great for kids of all ages. The boat was large and very clean with a restroom.

– Trip Advisor
The real deal!

April 2021 Our trip was OVER THE MOON! This was my 4th trip with dolphin explorer. We saw 8 different dolphins, including Avery and her 6 month old calf, Stefan. They jumped our wake for a good while. Also saw a manatee and some sting rays!! Plus lots of shells on sand dollar spit! A must do trip when visiting Marco😎

– Trip Advisor
Amazing,educational and fun for all ages

April 2021 We went out on 4/3 with Captain Jason and naturalist Bob. They were great. Very informative on the area and wildlife. We saw 25+ dolphins, a manatee, loggerhead turtle, bald eagles, osprey and more. They really cater to getting kids involved as scientists. We loved our whole experience and will definitely do this again. We were locals and visitors in our group and even the locals learned some things! Highly recommend!

– Trip Advisor

April 2021 I purchased this for my college-age grand-daughter and her friend and they loved the whole trip. They said it was very well organized and the staff was so friendly and very knowledgeable. They saw 15+ dolphins and enjoyed the humor of the leader and all the information that was provided. I think it was really inexpensive for all the fun they had and the entertainment provided. Thanks to your team!!!

– Trip Advisor
Dolphins Galore!

Mar.2021 I would highly recommend the Dolphin Explorer experience! My friend and I had a fantastic time! We loved our guides, Bob and Captain Eddie, who kept the trip fun and educational. They were both very knowledgeable and were able to identify each dolphin by their fins (they also passed out books to everyone so we could all identify the dolphins together)! The research aspect of the trip was really unique and kept everyone entertained! They also knew exactly where to go to find the dolphins - we saw 18 dolphins on our trip including a recently born calf! We also got to do some shelling at the end. Again, I would highly recommend this experience!

– Trip Advisor
Highly recommend!

Mar. 2021 What a fantastic experience!! Guide Bob and Captain Eddie were very knowledgeable. Both had a lot of experience with the dolphins and were very knowledgeable. We saw 15+ dolphins on the tour (including a new born calf, Cubbie!), and the research they do make it a very unique experience which we were able to learn about. Bob took photos of the dolphin fins (which identifies them) and we were able to know who was who. We also had some time to go shelling at the end. It was a very interactive and fun experience. Highly recommend!

– Trip Advisor
Boating+Dolphins+Ospreys+Pelicans= Perfect Morning

March 2021 This repeat dolphin adventure did not disappoint! We took our 7 year old granddaughter 3 years ago and this time we had our 9, 6, and 4 year old grandchildren. We enjoyed having our own dolphin identifying notebook and looking up facts while on the 3 hour trip. We were able to move around the vessel easily, and we always had a good view of the dolphins. The grandchildren also enjoyed filling out their Dolphin Challenge booklets and earning patches. The oldest and youngest proclaimed the dolphins were the best. The middle said shelling on Tigertail. They all agreed they are going on The Dolphin Explorer 🐬 when they return in December!

– Trip Advisor
Great experience for all ages

Mar 2021 I really enjoyed the effort the guide put into including everyone with individual attention. She was sincerely interested in how we were enjoying the trip. She was really good about reminding us just who, what, where, and when we were viewing dolphins. The boat captain was not shy about explaining how he was driving the boat in order to be considerate of the other tour groups in jet skis, not disturbing the dolphins as they ate and how he was offering them a ride in his wake. Immensely considerate tour of the ecology as well as the customer.

– Trip Advisor
Fun, educational and exciting

Mar 2021 First off, I was concerned about social distancing on the boat. Not a problem! We were able to be in our group and still be respectful of others. The vessel was immaculately clean as was the head. That said, here’s our thoughts of the trip... This trip was so much fun! We saw 16 dolphin sightings and the chart they provided for us helped to identify them. Both the captain and guide were so nice, smart, and good natured. They both truly enjoy being with people and sharing their love of dolphins with everyone, especially children. The cruise took us by beautiful houses and beaches. We had a stop (for about 30 minutes) on Sand Dollar Spit for shelling. So much fun. The grandkids really enjoyed hunting for the “perfect” shell!! Great day and great visit! Enjoy!

– Trip Advisor
Dolphin Explorer tour is the best option for your money!

March 2021 Our party of four adults and one 14 yr old went on the three hour Dolphin Explorer tour which ended up being the best experience on our five day trip! Captain Eddy was very straightforward and customer-conscious in his introductory boat orientation and Master Naturalist Bob was so engaged with us and made learning about the dolphins interesting and fun. There were some educational activities for the smaller kids on the tour and Bob took pictures of all the dolphins we saw and pointed out the ones he recognized in the dolphin fin catalogues that he gave us to reference at the beginning of the tour. Captain Eddy is so familiar with dolphin behavior that he was able to get several dolphins to follow the boat and we were lucky enough to see them jumping playfully in the wake many times! Bob talked about the dolphin families and biology/habits of the individual members of the pods. Towards the last part of the tour, Captain Eddy took us to a great shelling spot. We were provided with complimentary shelling bags and Bob took each family group’s picture as we got off the boat. We had 30 min to look for shells and when we got back to the boat Bob had complimentary print outs of the best pictures he had taken on the tour, including our group picture. For the money this is the best, most engaging, entertaining, generous, and customer-centric dolphin tour you will find on Marco Island! Highly recommend to everyone

– Trip Advisor

Feb. 2021 This trip never gets old, seeing these wonderful dolphins is so fabulous!!! Bob is super knowledgeable and fun. Captain Eddie did a great job at the helm. Highly recommend. Thanks guys!!!

– Trip Advisor
Worth the trip

Feb.2021 My 2 sons and I took this trip and it was fantastic! We saw 13+ dolphins on the trip and especially enjoyed watching the dolphins play in the wake of the boat. We learned so much about the Dolphins from Captains Bob and Eddie. They were kind, funny and informative. What more could you ask for? The shelling was fun as well. We got an entire bag full of unique shells. All around was a great experience!

– Trip Advisor
Fun for all ages- A must do experience

Feb.2021 What a super fantastic trip! We were fortunate to see about 15 different dolphin on our tour which were identified by their dorsal fins. They were playful and we got up close while being respectful of the dolphins’ space. They played in the wake of the boat which was an extra special treat! Our hosts- Bob & Eddie were so knowledgeable, inviting and humorous. They helped us identify the dolphins with the book of fins and great photos. The scientist books for the children helped keep them engaged and looking for wildlife/items beyond just dolphins. My girls were so excited to share all that they learned with their dad! Their favorite fact is how dolphins rest half their brains at a time. The kids loved finding shells on the beach too- even were lucky enough to find 3 sand dollars! We thoroughly enjoyed our time and will definitely be back! Thank you for a truly wonderful experience. We had a shell of a time! And to add, since it’s the pandemic and all... we felt safe and socially distanced on the boat with plenty of sanitizer to keep clean.

– Trip Advisor