Discovery, exploration, and adventure aboard The Dolphin Explorer!

Get to know our 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.

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

AMAZING!!

FEB 2020 Dolphin Explorer is a wonderful way to see all the amazing wildlife around Marco and get a great education about all these amazing creatures! We saw 23 dolphins!! Mamas, babies and young adults! Naturalist Bob is great!

– Trip Advisor
Company Outing

FEB 2020 We took our company senior leadership and their families on the Dolphin Explorer as a thank you for a great business year. The trip was fantastic. The crew was very friendly and knowledgeable and the boat extremely clean. We had 4 children ages from 6 to 12 and they were thoroughly entertained. The 3 hour tour first went up the Big Marco River where we saw many dolphins and learned their names and how they live around Marco Island. We then went back down the river to the mouth of the gulf and saw more. Finally we got off the boat on Tigertail Spit where we gatherer seashells. Everyone got a bag which they filled with many brightly colored shells and sand dollars. The trip is well worth it.

– Trip Advisor
Great experience for the whole family

JAN 2020 This was a great experience for our family. We were lucky to see dolphins shortly into our trip. The captain and the naturalist were both experts at spotting the dolphins and at providing additional information about the dolphins and their habits.They also pointed out other animals/wildlife of interest on our trip. We also got to stop on a smaller island and walk around and do some "shelling". Our naturalist then took a picture of each family/group before we reboarded the boat. He printed and handed out the pictures before we returned to the marina--a nice keepsake. The boat was very clean and modern with great sight lines on all sides. I would highly recommend this attraction to people of all ages

– Trip Advisor
Best Dolphin Excursion

JAN 2020 I have taken visitors on the dolphin excursion three times now and each time was different and loved by all. The captains are informative and very knowledgeable. Both have degrees in marine biology and this is not just a "sight-seeing" boat ride. They have been studying most of the dolphins you will see for upwards of ten years and will provide interesting and unique information. You do not follow a set route for the excursion; you literally follow the dolphins you spot. Two things to consider: in the summer, it is best to choose the early morning tour because afternoons bring rain showers, especially on Marco Island. In winter, afternoons are better as the day has warmed up. You will not find a friendlier staff or more enthusiastic. Enjoy!

– Trip Advisor
Fun, Informative, Unique

JAN 2020 This was a wonderful and eco-conscious way of seeing dolphins in southwest Florida. The boat is comfortable with plenty of seating and the crew was fantastic. I believe we had captain Michael and Bob taking photos, and they were both very informative and friendly. They have an extensive catalogue of their known dolphins in the area, and they take pictures of the dorsal fins as they come out of the water in order to keep track of and identify each dolphin quickly. This allows them to keep an eye on the local dolphins without the need to ever capture or tag them. There was plenty of water in the cooler and the small 30-minute stop at Tigetail beach was a wonderful little treat before the end of the tour. I'd recommend this to anyone visiting the area who wants to spend some time on the water looking at beautiful creatures.

– Trip Advisor
Fantastic experience

JAN 2020 Highly recommended. Naturalist Bob and Captain Eddie made it a great day out. Very knowledgable and enthusiastic, and lots of Dolphins seen. A day we will not forget.

– Trip Advisor
Informative entertaining experience

JAN 2020 We’ve done this excursion several times now and it never disappoints! They know how to find dolphins and do a great job educating on the scientific importance of their work recording the dolphins daily locations

– Trip Advisor
Fantastic Adventure !

JAn 2020 Dolphin Explorer never fails to exceed our expectations! The staff is so knowledgeable and so friendly that they make the trip quite a pleasurable one. I would recommend this trip to anyone of any age. You will not be disappointed.As a matter of fact that evening When I was standing in line waiting to get in a very popular restaurant I told everyone in line with me about it and I was so enthusiastic they all said they were planning on making a visit. We saw many dolphins, had a great time shelling, and learned so much from the dolphin Explorer team. This was our 4th time in the last 5 years and I'm already looking forward to doing it again next year.

– Trip Advisor
Amazing day!

JAN 2020 We went on the tour with Capt Eddie, Bob and Kelly. It was outstanding. Everywhere we went there were dolphins! Twice dolphins were playing and jumping in the boat’s wake, which is amazing to see up close. At Tigertail Beach we saw 10 dolphins; five Moms and 5 babies. They were also playing and jumping out of the water. It was an amazing day. The staff is great. We highly recommend Dolphin Explorer. We will be back!

– Trip Advisor
Fifth trip and just as amazing as the first

JAN 2020 We took our wonderful friends out yesterday for their first trip and they loved it too! Just can't say enough about how fun it is not only to see dolphins, but to learn about who's who (by name) and even hear about their family history, who has a new baby, who tends to hang out with whom....it's just SO MUCH FUN. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't like it, even a surly teenager would have to be charmed by their sweet faces and athleticism while they're jumping in the boat wake. Hope to go many more times. Oh, and it's way worth the price in case you're wondering.

– Trip Advisor
Great experience

JAN 2020 Three hours and many dolphin sightings with great supplemental information. Waters and wonderful souvenir photos included. Opportunities for shell hunting on shell island with bags provided. All the dolphins have names. If I had observed an unnamed dolphin, I would have named him Warren.

– Trip Advisor
Terrific

JAN 2020 It was an overcast day, but the dolphin were out for us. Knowledgeable and kind staff, kid-friendly. We stopped for 30 minutes at Tigertail Beach for some unparalleled shelling. Two thumbs up! A great value

– Trip Advisor
Amazing experience

JAN 2019 I didn’t have much hope of seeing dolphins January 5, 2020. It was very cool and a little windy. I was very surprised at the amount of dolphins we got to see! Awesome pictures and videos of the dolphins playing behind the boat. Jumping out of the water. It was truly an amazing experience. Highly recommend. An awesome experience for all ages.

– Trip Advisor
Great experience and value

DEC 2019 This dolphin explorer experience is well done, professional, educational, and fun. The captain and naturalist provide a great experience for all. We loved it and think we got our money’s worth. I’ve been to Marco every year for 20 years and consider this to be a top rate experience.

– Trip Advisor
Great experience! Highly recommend!

DEC 2019 We brought our two young kids (3 and 1). It was highly enjoyable, very relaxing and interesting for all ages (including my parents) and not too much overkill with guide's talking or instructions etc. It was very laid back, great nature and dolphin viewing. Well worth the time and expense

– Trip Advisor
Didn't stop smiling

DEC 2019 We booked at the booth in the Marina, and from just chatting with the gentleman there we knew we were going to have a great day. He was so chatty and enthusiastic about the project and once we were welcomed on board and got underway we knew we were on to a winner - the crew were very knowledgeable and friendly. (sorry we are OAPS and couldn't remember the names - that's our excuse) To see the dolphins bow riding was just amazing and out on the water looking round all the small islands and at the wildlife was so interesting. To end our trip on Tiger Tail Beach was beautiful as well. Compliments to all the staff we met they are a credit to the project.

– Trip Advisor
Excellent trip. Worth every penny

DEC 2019 Bob and Eddie very welcoming. Bob knows his stuff , very informative. Been on this trip a few times it’s the best . Saw loads of dolphin and birds . The stop at tigertail beach was lovely . Would recommend this to anyone visiting the area .

– Trip Advisor
Great time for all ages!

DEC 2019 This was the 5th time our family has gone on the Dolphin Explorer tour and we love it every time. We had 10 family members in December of 2019 ranging from 8 to 75 years old, we saw 20 dolphins and we all had a great time. Thanks Michael and Bob for a great day!

– Trip Advisor
A Must Do

DEC 2019 As a guest of the Dolphin Explorer I was greeted d by Captain Mike and Naturalist Kent . As a part of the Dolphin Project you will be introduced to the Dolphins that live their entire lives in the Harbor. Grandparents Mothers Fathers Sons And Daughters. Mike and Kent know their names. You can name a dolphin too if you spy a newborn. A wealth of knowledge between them made my trip wonderful. We saw birds and stopped for Shelling on Tigertail Beach. A wonderful experience.

– Trip Advisor
Highlight of our trip!

DEC 2019 We cant wait to do this again! From beginning to end, great experience, wonderful and knowledgeable team, beautiful trip and the experience of being up close with the amazing playful dolphins...perfect!!!

– Trip Advisor
Family had great and educational time on the Dolphin Explorer

DEC 2019 The Dolphin Explorer trip was highly recommended and it did not fail to impress us. The crew was extremely knowledgeable about dolphins and how to find them in the gulf and nearby waterways. We learned so much about dolphins and other animals in the area. Loved it.

– Trip Advisor
Fantastic enthusiastic crew! 3 hour trip

NOV 2019 This is really a great boat trip. The crew are really knowledgeable and are able to spot dolphins accurately. We saw at least 30 dolphins which was great fun. You can spot lots of birds including ospreys on the trip. They let customers disembark on a island for shelling. This is one of the best boat trips we have been on.

– Trip Advisor
Wonderful time

OCT 2019 The knowledgeable crew and staff made the excursion one of the best trips I've had in a while. We were able to see 13 dolphins and 2 manatee in 3 hrs. The boat has plenty of room to move around, plenty of water to stay cool too. Definitely on my list to do again next time in Marco.

– Trip Advisor
Close up dolphin viewing

NOV 2019 As regular visitors to Marco it can be a challenge to find things to do on this small quiet island. My brother-in-law heard a speech by one of the Explorer naturalists last year which put this on our radar screen. They've got a bright and shiny deck-style boat that's pretty large and can hold up to 49. As we were taking the morning 3-hour tour (9 am) on a Friday in November, there were only 14 of us booked including our group of six and only two little kids. (Note: while the boat is nice and big with bench seating around the perimeter, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much with a big crowd). The boat is mostly shaded with a large awning over 90% of the structure. Right away we started seeing dolphins and what was even more interesting was how close the dolphins come to the boat. They seem to like looking at us as much as we do them. They also followed the boat for quite a while, playing in our wake. An added bonus is that the company has chronicled the births of dolphins around Marco for 13 years so they can pretty much identify the dolphins (they all have names) by their dorsal fins. They have books for passengers to use in the identification process. Free bottled water is provided (as much as you want) and they have a small marine toilet on board as well for comfort. After watching the dolphins in a couple of different spots, they set you ashore on one of the island's remote beaches where you can go shelling - they even give you a bag to keep. They even take your group's photo on the beach and print out pictures for you for free as well which is a nice souvenir of your day. This was a nice activity and I'd definitely recommend it to people visiting the area.

– Trip Advisor
Dolphin Tour

NOV 2019 My wife and I went on this tour on Nov 1. What a great tour. We were with naturalist Bob and Captain Eddie. We were able to identify 14 dolphin and saw over twenty. We even received 3 beautiful pictures of dolphin and manatee. We also observed unusual behavior by a young manatee and actually called wildlife services and they came out and took the wounded animal. WHAT A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– Trip Advisor
A Great trip for all ages

OCT 2019 I went out with 2 girlfriends as a test run for grandkids coming to visit. Michael and Kent did a wonderful job entertaining as well as educating us about dolphins as well as the birds we saw. It’s always nice to be out on the water. The boat itself was very comfortable and easy to move around since things happened on both sides of the boat. The stop on Tigertail beach was fantastic if you were looking to do some shelling. We pulled right up onto the beach which made exiting the boat pretty simple. At the end of our trip we were given printed photos of our group as well as some of the dolphins/birds we saw. I would highly recommend this experience for anyone who wants to get a closer look at our Florida wildlife from the water. We did not make a reservation but during Season it would be a good idea

– Trip Advisor
Excellent Experience!

OCTOBER 2019 A fantastic experience on the Dolphin Explorer. Captain Michael & naturalist Bob we’re so knowledgeable about the dolphin and Marco Island wildlife and made the trip a great experience. We managed to see 18 different dolphin & many species of bird. A not to be missed opportunity, I would highly recommend this. Thank you Michael & Bob, you were terrific.

– Trip Advisor
Dolphins everywhere!

OCTOBER 2019 Captain Mike and Keith were so knowledgeable about the Dolphins, a wonderful experience to see so many and some with their babies, and learn more about these amazing animals. Highly recommend this experience.

– Trip Advisor
Amazing Cannot miss experience!

OCTOBER 2019 My daughter and I took the tour for her 8th birthday and had the most amazing experience! Captain Eddie was great and Mr. Bob was our naturalist and was so funny and knowledgeable. We saw So many dolphins - it was beyond our wildest dreams. While I think we probably lucked out with the massive volume of time we got with the dolphins, I trust that most charters get a great opportunity to see these amazing mammals of the sea! We even got a manatee sighting and Captain Eddie was very careful and took his time to make sure we got to enjoy them. Mr. Bob was amazing and treated everyone so special, but he went out of his way to make my daughter feel so very special for her birthday. She said it was the best birthday ever and it was really something very special! If you have a special moment to enjoy or just want a nice outing to see a lot of great views you wouldn’t see just driving around the typical tour spots don’t miss this opportunity to spend with great and very knowledgeable folks - and ENJOY!!!!

– Trip Advisor
Great trip. Lots to see

OCTOBER 2019 This was a wonderful dolphin tour. Our guide Kenneth and the boat captain Michael were very knowledgeable. They told us about all the dolphin in the area and gave us a book showing the local dolphins by name. They explained how you could recognize the different dolphin by their dorsal fin. It was fun for adults and kids alike.

– Trip Advisor
Delightful dolphins

OCTOBER 2019 Fabulous trip. Multiple dolphin sightings at a number of locations. On board staff are qualified naturalists and very informative. Shelling time on great beach yielded bag of beautiful shells. Will repeat on next trip to Marco Island.

– Trip Advisor
Fabulous way to spend 3 hours!

AUGUST 2019 Informative, extremely well managed & thoroughly enjoyable 3 hours spent with Captain Michael & Bob learning all about the dolphins. Plenty of sightings along with manatees and various birds. Excursion took 3 hours with 30 mins for shelling. Shelling bags, plentiful iced water and restroom facilities all provided on this new boat along with souvenir personal photos. Tour is suitable for children and adults of all ages & we had a great time. Thank you!

– Trip Advisor
Great excursion!

AUGUST 2019 At Dolphin Explorer reception, greeted nicely then on time taken to new, comfortable and spacious pontoon boat with “head”. Both Captain Michael and Master Naturalist Bob were exceptional guides and hosts making sure we had the best experience keeping us steady, informed and hydrated with water. Then off to find dolphins which we did spotting at least 12. Master Bob gave excellent information and was an exceptional presenter for children to become involved as young scientist but also for everyone to learn and share in his excitement about dolphins. We identified dolphins, birds and spotted a new baby too. What an educational adventurer. Our three-hour tour was wonderful.

– Trip Advisor
Perfect boat trip among the dolphin and manatee!

AUGUST 2019 We are a family of five from the UK with three mid teen kids 14-16. We all had a wonderful trip and experience on the Dolphin Explorer last week with captain Eddie and marine biologist Bob. We saw 19 of the resident dolphins plus several manatee. The trip was not simply dolphin spotting but an educational experience as Bob provides, in a very easy yet knowledgeable way, much insight and information about the dolphins and their offspring that live off Marco Island. Great photo opportunities including dolphins playing and surfing in our wake and a lovely stop on a quiet beach for a paddle and shell collecting. Suitable for all ages. Thank guys!

– Trip Advisor