If you see a line of beachcombers standing and pointing at the water, shading their eyes as they squint into the distance, odds are there are dolphins nearby. Something about this obviously intelligent mammal has stirred curiosity since people first stepped onto the beach. And while the facts are lost to history soon after the first people noticed the dolphins, some enterprising soul probably sold seats in his canoe for the first dolphin tour.
So, when you come to Sanibel Island, what is the best way to spot dolphins? Here are some tips:
1. Take a Dolphin Watching Tour: To your advantage, dolphin tour operators are often “locals” who know the best times and places for dolphin watching. Watching from a boat gives you a unique vantage point and may afford the opportunity for up-close viewing as a dolphin pod may approach the boat to investigate or even jump in the boat’s wake! Go the front desk to get a recommendation on the many choices for selecting a dolphin tour operator.
2. Get Up Early: Even if you are a night owl by nature, we encourage guests to experience the sunrise on the beach. The early morning hours are also when you are most likely to see groups of dolphins feeding just offshore, cruising up and down the beach. Sightings, although common are less prevalent later in the day.
3.Rent a Kayak: For the active vacationer, a kayak trip can be an exhilarating way to conduct a DIY dolphin tour. Kayaks are available to rent from Island Inn, ask the front desk for details and rates.
4. Use Binoculars: Although people imagine they’re going to step into the water and frolic with dolphins, it generally doesn’t happen that way with wild dolphin populations found along the Sanibel Island shoreline. Most of the time, you are going to spot a dolphin pod moving offshore – a pair of binoculars can help bring the action in closer, safely!
5. Go Where The Fish Are: Areas on Sanibel’s shoreline that provide our dolphin friends a meal and a reason to stick around, such as Blinds Pass and Lighthouse Point, are great locations to enhance your chances of seeing these majestic animals.
Luckily, dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and it’s easy to observe them since they swim near the surface (they are mammals and must surface to breathe). Standing on the shore or wading out into the surf will often provide the simplest vantage point. Be safe, and enjoy watching dolphins from the Island Inn on Sanibel Island!