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The Dolphin Explorer

The Finest Dolphin Study / Eco-Tour on Marco Island

WE ARE OPEN AGAIN!!!!! OUR TOURS ARE NOW LIMITED TO TUESDAYS, FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AT 9 AM AND SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AT 1 PM BECAUSE OF THE LIMITED NUMBER OF GUESTS IN THE AREA. WE CAN OFFER PRIVATE TOURS FOR GROUPS AND FAMILIES OF 10 OR MORE UPON REQUEST. WE ARE CDC COMPLIANT AND CAN CARRY 20 PASSENGERS SO COME JOIN US!!!!

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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. 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

Fantastic Excursion

July 2020 We were on a family vacation visiting from Texas and this excursion was amazing! We saw about 15 different dolphins up close and jumping behind the boat. The tour was lead by a great Captain and naturalist. It's one of the best wildlife experiences we've been on. I highly recommend and we will be back each time we vacation here in Marco Island.

– Trip Advisor
Family fun with the dolphins

July 2020 What a great experience we had with the Dolphin Explorer during the 4th of July weekend. Captain Eddy and Naturalist Hailey were an amazing duo. It was Hailey's first time by herself and she did great. They made all the passengers feel welcomed, answered all questions, and had many fun facts for us. The boat stopped by the northern part of Tigertail Island for 30 minutes of shelling. Hailey was able to help us identify over twenty dolphins by their dorsel fins. Captain Eddy was able to have many dolphins play with us and wave hop. It truly was a fun and great experience. We look forward to our next visit to Marco Island and another tour with the Dolphin Explorer.

– Trip Advisor
Dolphin Explorer Tour 2020

July 2020 The tour guides Hailey and Eddie were fantastic. Very knowledgeable.. Loved this tour as they are studying the groups of dolphins that live in that area keeping track of new births and family groups.. Educational but fun at the same time. Those 12 and under are encouraged to find different things on the tour and are given a badge at the end of the tour.. You are also given a chance to shell on Tigertsil Beach. Highly recommend this tour.

A dolphin lover's dream come true!

July 2020 This was a great family trip! Kids (13,12,11, 8) and adults enjoyed it tremendously. The staff was very friendly and they knew right where the dolphins were. We saw 14 different dolphins and were able to get up very close and personal with a few! Highly recommend

– Trip Advisor
Eight thumbs up...Way up!

July 2020 My daughter and my twin 5.5 yr old granddaughters took the Dolphin Explorer and absolutely loved it. It’s interactive, interesting and eight dolphins were identified. We loved shelling at Tigertail and the fabulous pictures given to us were a big bonus. Eight thumbs up....way up!

– Trip Advisor
Great family experience

July 2020 The Dolphin Explorer was a great experience for the whole family! The boys loved learning about dolphins, collecting seashells and earning their badges.

– Trip Advisor
This tour does not disappoint!

June 2020 We took the morning tour and had a wonderful time. Bob and Eddy were super knowledgeable and very nice to everyone on board. The area we covered was very interesting and we saw our share of dolphins thanks to the crew. Bob took a lot of great pictures and even printed sets for all the families on board which was a very nice extra free of charge. It was very hot that day and the free water was another great extra. I would recommend this tour to everyone visiting Marco Island!

– Trip Advisor
Enjoyable and educational tour!

June 2020 We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday morning with Bob and Captain Eddie— it’s always fun to go dolphin spotting but Bob’s great knowledge of the local bottlenose and showing us how to identify the individuals made it one of a kind.Our little boy loved participating in the research to earn his explorer badge almost as much as seeing the dolphins! The stop on the beach has fantastic shelling and the souvenir pictures of our family was the icing on the cake. Great family outing— highly recommended!

– Trip Advisor
The Marco Island Dolphin Explorer is not just for kids

MAY 2020 The Dolphin Explorer is located at Rosa Marina on Marco Island, FL. They do over 590 tours annually and are extremely knowledge of the area, marine life and wildlife. The crew that chartered our tour knew each dolphin spotted by name. We all learned so much about dolphins...but never knew that dolphins dorsal fins are all different and is their unique identifier. This allows the crew to name each and every dolphin they come in contact with, track them and see what wildlife patterns they have. Trust me they have books on 100+ dolphins identified along with the names given to them. We even spotted a dolphin that was new to the area and were able to name them Welcome, Jonadon to Marco! Our tour was for three hours and we spotted 25 dolphins! Some racing along side of the boat. Others jumping through the waves of the wake. Adults and the kids all screamed in excitement each time a dolphin was spotted. We spotted many sets of mother and baby. The big excitement was three generations of a grandmother, mother and baby. The children did a dolphin challenge and received a dolphin explorer badge at the end of the day. The crew is extremely knowledgeable about dolphins, the area which we traveled and wildlife. Your guides include a captain and first mate who made you feel like you knew them for years. The boat was equipped with a restroom, half of the boat has a canopy. They also provide bottled water, cooler, and shelling bags. The area visited was the ten thousand islands, Keewaydin Island, Everglade City and Barrier Beach. This is where we went shelling and swimming for about a half hour. Thank you Captain Eddie, Bob and Rose. Rose just graduated majoring in Marine Biology and will be working with the crew on the boat soon. No wonder this is a National Geographic approve tour! Booking Tip: gather your close family and friends together and book the boat as a private tour. The 1 pm tour was our choice as it worked out best for the families with children.

– Trip Advisor
Great Experience

MAR 2020 My entire family (boys 4 & 7) really enjoyed the experience. They both took in a lot of knowledge and really enjoyed seeing the dolphins (tons of close sightings of playful dolphins). Guides were very knowledgeable and great with kid questions. Shelling at Tigertail was a fun extra.

– Trip Advisor
Really excellent experience!

MARCH 2020 We were a group of seven adults and a two-year-old and five-year-old. I can honestly say that everybody really enjoyed this experience. We were able to see many dolphins and several schools of rays. The crew is super knowledgeable and intent on making sure that you get to see wildlife. Osprey feeding their young. Dolphins Darting behind the boat. The kids couldn’t get enough picking up seashells. To top it all off at the end of the cruise you have a very nice family picture as well as some expert shots of the dolphins that you had seen taken by the crew.. Really excellent. This is a super family experience.

– Trip Advisor
Best tour for families

MARCH 2020 What a fun tour for our entire family! We saw so many dolphins, they swam right up to our boat! Captain Bob was AMAZING! And the shelling was very cool; so many unique shells we were able to bring home! Highly recommend!

– Trip Advisor
Wonderful trip

MAR 2020 Both captain and naturalist so knowledgeable. Cant believe we saw so many dolphins all catalogued by their dorsal fins.

– Trip Advisor
Loved this learning tour

MAR 2020 Our family loved this boat tour. We were so close to all the dolphin we saw. Mama dolphins with their babies and groups of dolphins jumping out of the water. The boat ride was comfortable and relaxing, the dolphin viewing was exceptional. Definitely recommend this to others and would take this tour again.

The hours flew by

MAR 2020 Two of us, both senior citizens, went on this three hour adventure. Our guide was great. Imagine recognizing and being able to recognize dolphins by sight! Great day!

– Trip Advisor
Fantastic educational tour focusing on dolphin

FEB 2020 Highly recommend this tour to all ages. There were some kids on the boat that were truly engaged in searching for dolphins and seemed to enjoy every minute of the trip. My husband and I were in a party of 3 couples and all of us agreed the trip was extremely well done and very educational, not to mention we enjoyed the boat ride through the Marco waters. We all were given a very professionally done photo of our group at the conclusion of the tour which was included at no additional cost. Very nice touch.

– Trip Advisor
Fantastic educational tour focusing on dolphin

FEB 2020 Highly recommend this tour to all ages. There were some kids on the boat that were truly engaged in searching for dolphins and seemed to enjoy every minute of the trip. My husband and I were in a party of 3 couples and all of us agreed the trip was extremely well done and very educational, not to mention we enjoyed the boat ride through the Marco waters. We all were given a very professionally done photo of our group at the conclusion of the tour which was included at no additional cost. Very nice touch.

– Trip Advisor
Dolphins everywhere

FEB 2020 Wow ... considering there is no guarantee that we would see a dolphin due to weather conditions, etc, we hit the jackpot! Captain Michael took us to a bay between mangrove islands and we became surrounded by 10-16 dolphins playing wildly all around the boat. Even he and the naturalist (sorry, I never heard his name) seemed genuinely surprised by how much activity we saw. More inportantly perhaps was how helpful the fellows were to passengers. My wife has mobility problems, and we had concerns about her boarding the boat. There were two steps from the dock onto the deck, and the guys were there to help with each step. Fantastic! I would recommend this tour to anyone whether or not you have seen dolphins

– Trip Advisor
Awesome experience!

FEB 2020 We had 6 adults that booked an excursion with the Dolphin Explorer group. We had an amazing experience. Captain Michael and Naturalist Bob were awesome. They were very knowledgeable about the dolphins and wildlife in the area. Both Michael and Bob were extremely friendly and welcoming. They were eager to answer any and all questions from the group on the boat. The children on board were kept engaged by having a booklet to check off things they saw while on the tour. Each group was given a detailed notebook with pictures and explanations of how the dolphins are identified. We saw a total of 14 dolphins.....some in groups of 1 or 2 and one grouping of 9! Captain Michael and Bob kept the boat at the sightings for ample time to see and enjoy the dolphins. They even got the dolphins to "play" in the wake of the boat on 2 occasions. The boat stops at a beach to give people a chance to get off and collect shells if they so desire. Everyone is provided with a bag to collect their shells. There is free water and a bathroom on board the boat and plenty of covered space if you want to stay out of the sun. At the end of the tour, we were given (free) a picture of our family (taken by Bob on the beach) along with a picture of one of the dolphins we saw and a blue heron. The tour is 3 hours and I personally could have gone for more. I would without a doubt HIGHLY recommend this tour if you are in the Marco Island area. Well worth every the reasonable cost.

– Trip Advisor
Ecotour to see dolphins

FEB 2020 Aon a beautiful early morning we arrived at the marina on Marco Island. After checking in us and about 25 more people boarded the catamaran. The two person crew was very knowledgeable and accommodating. They study the local dolphins, the boat ride is sort a reconnaissance type trip where each sighting is recorded with a photograph and location. We saw many dolphins! We also saw them play in the wake of the boat, which was really fun. We saw ospreys and looked at the local islands. We stopped at one small island to collect seashells. Really enjoyed the trip!

– Trip Advisor
It was great!

FEB 2020 We had a great experience on the Dolphin Explorer. The captain and the naturalist were both knowledgeable and accommodating. We saw lots of dolphin activity and enjoyed the entire cruise.

– Trip Advisor
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