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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

Best ever Dolphin boat tour!

May 2021 Exceeded my expectations from start to finish! I highly recommend this experience! Head Marine Biologist Bob and Kristin were informative, friendly and made the trip unforgettable! Captain Eddie was incredible, helpful and knowledgeable. The experience was above and beyond what I imagined this dolphin exploration could be. Saw 18 different dolphins identified by name! Incredible!!!

– Trip Advisor
Excellent tour and amazing tour guides

May 2021 Bob and Eddie led our tour and it was AMAZING! It was definitely worth paying a little extra to do this tour with dolphin researchers instead of just any old tour guide. They were so knowledgeable and really valued the well being of the dolphins. I loved hearing about the lives and past of each of the dolphins we came across, as well as which dolphins were related to others. Highly recommend!

– Trip Advisor
Educational and fun!

May 2021 Best part was when the boat made a wake and dolphins playfully jumping it. Really cool to see that. Dolphins were literally 15 feet away and jumping completely out of the water playing. But the entire experience was well worth it, learned a lot about dolphins and naturalist Bob and captain Eddie were quite knowledgeable and fun to talk to.

– Trip Advisor
Excellent adventure

May 2021 I had no expectations and if I did this was over and above any I might have had about the excursion. This is for all ages. Caption Eddie and Skipper Bob were great. We took wonderful pictures ourself and they gave us pictures. The shelling was an extra benefit. I will go again with friends.

– Trip Advisor
Must do!

May 2021 We loved this experience and can see why the ratings are so high! We enjoyed three hours with Captain Eddie and Bob looking for dolphins and saw so many! They were jumping in the wake of the boat! Our kids loved learning their names and helping identify them. Bob took time to answer all questions and looked through each of the kids’ booklets (they have activities and questions for kids) at the end and talked to them about it. He then presented them with a badge. The boat offers shade and sun and the complimentary water bottles are appreciated. We stopped at a beautiful spot for shelling along the way too and took family pictures that they gave us later. We would do this again!

– Trip Advisor

May 2021 This dolphin tour is one of the best experiences I have ever had! The crew - Bob & Capitain Eddie - were knowledgeable and kind and friendly...we saw many dolphins and they knew them all by name, and described when they were born and who their mother was and their personal habits. Wow!! We were taken to a beach where there was an abundance of shells and the Audubon people educated us about the birds in the area. Photos were taken of our families and given to us at the end of the tour. Little guys filled out a book and got a badge. Nothing was left undone. Reserve 3 hours of your vacation for this wonderful experience.

– Trip Advisor
Best dolphin boat ride

May 2021 This is the best dolphin ride you can find on Marco Island!! It was extremely informative and you can see the passion in the crews eyes as they talked about the dolphins along the way! I have done this ride twice now and I will definitely be doing it again in the future

– Trip Advisor
Awesome time had by all

April 2021 We had a great time! Haley and Eddie were amazing! They were very personable and Hailey has the best personality! We saw about 13 dolphins and found some beautiful shells! Thank you for a great trip!

– Trip Advisor
Best day of our vacation week!

April 2021 Our favorite dolphin site was a mom and a 3-month old calf swimming close to the Sand Dollar Spit Island, where we docked for about 40 minutes to collect shells during the cruise. We saw 19 different "named" dolphins and several more (total of about 22) that might have just been "visiting" the area for a few days, according to our excellent hosts, Bob and Captain Eddie during our 3-hour cruise. Both of our hosts were knowledgeable and friendly and yet not intrusive with conversation. We couldn't have had a better pair! We would do this cruise again next time we visit and would certainly recommend it to anyone we know who might be making a trip to Marco Island! It was the best and our most fun day of vacationing in the area! I've found what I want to do for a profession when I retire now - :)

– Trip Advisor
Dolphins in the bay!

April 2021 This was an incredible experience. The boat was shaded and social distancing was possible at all times. The Captain Ed and guide Bob were extremely professional and knowledgeable. We saw loads of dolphins and baby ones too. They played and jumped around the boat. You also get to dock for about an hour on a small island and do some shelling and swimming. I’m definitely going again.2021

– 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