Get Out on the Water with the Dolphin Explorer!

Visitors to Naples and the Marco Island area of southwest Florida are offered a bewildering array of boat trips, dolphin cruises, wildlife trips and dolphin spotting experiences. It’s hard to know which to choose, except that only one company operates a Wild Dolphin Project in conjunction with National Geographic.

Must Do Visitor Guides | | The Dolphin Explorer Fort Myers, Florida

Photo Courtesy of The Dolphin Explorer

Be Part of the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project

A trip aboard the Dolphin Explorer allows passengers to take part in the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project. This important survey gathers information about bottlenose dolphins on the 3-hour survey tours which depart daily at 9am and 1pm. Every dolphin sighting is photographed by the onboard naturalist, and the GPS location, time, sea conditions and other information is carefully noted. This long term study tracks the numbers, behavior, distribution and movement of bottlenose dolphins in the warm waters around Marco Island and the southwest Florida coast.

Must Do Visitor Guides | | The Dolphin Explorer Fort Myers, Florida

Photo courtesy of The Dolphin Explorer

Captain Chris was the founder of the 10,000 Islands Dolphin project, back in 2006. Under his expert guidance, passengers quickly learn to identify the dolphins, as each dorsal fin is uniquely different. Dolphins come close enough for passengers to spot evidence of shark bites on the dolphins as well as learning all about dolphin behavior, feeding and breeding. Often dolphins are sighted with young dolphins at their side – a particularly special moment.

Must Do Visitor Guides | | The Dolphin Explorer Fort Myers, Florida. #Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

What to Expect Aboard the Dolphin Explorer

Of course, a trip aboard the 30-foot long Dolphin Explorer catamaran isn’t limited to just sighting dolphins, and every trip is different. You are likely to spot sea birds, rookeries, barrier islands, mangroves and possibly manatees if you’re really lucky. With a Florida Master Naturalist leading the trip, you can ask questions, identify and learn about the location, the dolphins and the entire marine ecosystem in this area.

Must Do Visitor Guides | | The Dolphin Explorer Fort Myers, Florida

Photo courtesy of The Dolphin Explorer

During the trip, passengers get to visit an uninhabited barrier island to hunt for some fabulous shells to keep as a lasting souvenir of your exciting trip. The cost of the trip includes a shelling bag, souvenir photo and soft drinks.

Name a Dolphin!

The Dolphin Explorer tour Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by Debi Pittman Wilkey for

Photo credit Debi Pittman Wilkey

Families with children will find they love the excitement of the boat ride, and there’s never a dull moment as everyone looks for dolphins and wildlife. The staff go out of their way to entertain youngsters, both onboard and ashore when collecting and identifying sea shells.  What makes the trip extra special is that if a child spots a new, previously unidentified dolphin, they get to name it. No other trips can offer such a unique opportunity!

This is a truly educational and exciting trip for children of all ages, from 1 to 101, particularly as it is part of a National Geographic approved project. For more detailed information, the Dolphin Explorer trip is featured in the National Geographic book ”  “100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life: From Your Backyard to the Ends of the Earth,” which highlights a number of international travel experiences that every child should experience. Perhaps your trip aboard the Dolphin Explorer on Marco Island will be the first of many life-changing experiences you will tick off as a family!

The Dolphin Explorer is located at 951 Bald Eagle Drive Marco Island, FL 34145. For reservations and additional information please call 800.979.3370.

Must Do Visitor Guides | | The Dolphin Explorer Fort Myers, Florida

Photo courtesy of The Dolphin Explorer

Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.