Swimming with Wild Dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

It has long been a purpose of mine to swim with dolphins and maybe even interact with them, but if there was one thing I was hoping I’d be able to achieve when doing so was to enjoy the company of these extraordinary animals in their environment, not ours. No, I don’t mean I was looking to meet them on the street rather than in the water, but that I wanted to see them in the ocean, not in swimming pools. Finally, this has become a reality.

dolphins puerto vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has been for many decades a popular whale watching location in Mexico’s Pacific, but for some reason dolphin watching has escaped many visitors lists of things to do while here. Fortunately, it did make it into ours.

dolphins puerto vallarta

Out of all the tour operators in Puerto Vallarta only Wildlife Connection guarantees you will see dolphins in the tour, and depending on their mood you’ll be able to swim with them, and usually you do. The best part of joining a tour with them is that they’re actually a group of biologists that has been studying the same pod for over 30 years, and the money you pay for the tour (58-68 USD depending on season) is used to fund the research.

Lasting about 4 hours, the tour begins at 9 am with an interesting 30 minute presentation you’ll be able to follow along while sipping some juice or coffee, and by the time it’s over you’ll be in the right mood to head into the ocean.

Once on the boat, Eduardo (and you too) will be on the lookout to spot the pod, which can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes away, but seeing them is guaranteed. And once spotted, the real fun begins. The excitement builds up as you get closer, and once in the water you simply cannot have enough of it all. The dolphins will swim over to you and as long as you’re moving underwater they will stick around, until they get bored and move on. But don’t worry, you’ll get back on the boat and catch up with them for a repeat.

dolphins puerto vallarta

The experience is one of a kind, truly enjoyable and appropriate for all ages. If there’s anything that can have a negative effect on it it will be the underwater visibility, but that of course is in nature’s hands. During the rainy season rivers bring silt from the mountains which remains in suspension once it reaches the ocean; if the dolphins happen to be hanging around in the murky water then your pictures will not look as good and swimming with them might be pointless. This said, check the pictures below: we did this during the rainy season and the dolphins were swimming where the water is clean, which is what they usually do. All in all I give the tour 5 points out of 5 and highly recommend it if you visit Puerto Vallarta; simply contact Eduardo or anybody in his team via their website www.wildlifeconnection.com or call them at +52 1 322 2271645 / +52 1 322 1002908.

Have you ever swum with dolphins in the wild? Anywhere else? Were you afraid at some point like some people are? What did you like most of the experience? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!

Disclosure: we were given a 75% discount on the tour, however this has not affected in any way the opinions and descriptions shared in this article.

Leave a Reply 26 comments

wherethedolphinsswim - October 12, 2011 Reply

This is a wonderful post! What is so great is that you are showing people there are alternatives to the captive dolphin programs in Mexico. I think most people only think of Dolphin Discovery when they think of swimming with dolphins in Mexico. There is nothing like spending time with dolphins in the wild. The tour operator sounds terrific. Thanks again!

    maitravelsite - October 12, 2011 Reply

    Yup, which is a pity. Dolphin Discovery with Vallarta Adventures might be fun, but there’s nothing like seeing them in the wild.

June @ Therapist New York - September 29, 2011 Reply

So amazing! that is on my bucket list, to swim with the dolphins in the wild.

Samantha - September 20, 2011 Reply

Its cool. I wish i could swim together with dolphin im a bit scared but i want to experience.Thank you for sharing the picture love it.

    maitravelsite - September 21, 2011 Reply

    You shouldn’t be! These animals are so friendly and curious, I bet you’ll love it if you do!

Margo - September 16, 2011 Reply

I swam with dolphins one time by mistake. Scared the heck out of me at first. They were much bigger than I expected 🙂

    maitravelsite - September 21, 2011 Reply

    By mistake? lol Yeah, they are big, but oh so gentle!

Emily - September 12, 2011 Reply

Super cool that you got to swim with them in the wild. After watching “The Cove,” I’m vehemently against swimming with dolphins in captivity. So I love that there is the opportunity to still interact with this creatures but allow them to remain in their natural habitat. I bet that makes it much more special!

    maitravelsite - September 21, 2011 Reply

    And just last week I was able to repeat this in Hawaii…more about it soon!

Sara @ Walking Tours Rome - September 8, 2011 Reply

Oh my god, this looks like such an amazing experience! I’ve only gone swimming with dolphins once, but they weren’t in the wild like this… I think it’s definitely going on my Bucket List.

    maitravelsite - September 10, 2011 Reply

    Much nicer to see them in the wild I think! Though playing with them is also in my bucket list!

Hogga - September 8, 2011 Reply

Awww! This sounds and looks so amazing! I was asked to come feed the whales and dolphins at a seaworld show when I was 10, but I told them no cause I was scared 🙁 I’m totally ready now though haha.

    maitravelsite - September 10, 2011 Reply

    lol…hey, dolphins do hit people sometimes! Not that I want to keep you away from them… 🙂

    maitravelsite - September 10, 2011 Reply

    Well, it is not uncommon for dolphins to hit people when playing…not that I want to keep you away from them! 😉

Erica - September 5, 2011 Reply

I got to swim with dolphins recently as well and it is so incredibly magical!

    maitravelsite - September 7, 2011 Reply

    Where was that at Erica?

Abi - September 3, 2011 Reply

Wow…This was something that I always wanted to do. Then I visited a dolphin research centre and had second thoughts…I wrote about that and you kindly stopped by to direct me to this post. Now I am thinking again…Great pictures, great food for thought.

    maitravelsite - September 7, 2011 Reply

    I felt comfortable with what I did, and would frankly recommend a tour like this to everyone.

Abby - September 1, 2011 Reply

Puerto Vallerta is where I went whale watching. I love that area!

    maitravelsite - September 1, 2011 Reply

    There is so much to do nature wise… did you know it is the third deepest bay in North America?

Raymond @ Man On The Lam Travel Blog - September 1, 2011 Reply

I swam with a lone dolphin off the Sinai in Egypt a few years back — it was kind of sad though because the poor fella was all alone. This looks way more fun. 🙂

    maitravelsite - September 1, 2011 Reply

    I bet he loved the attention though!

Hunter@Motionscykel - September 1, 2011 Reply

Ah, that must be truly an extraordinary experience!

    maitravelsite - September 1, 2011 Reply

    Indeed it was Hunter. In fact I am sure I will do it again!

Cathy Sweeney - August 31, 2011 Reply

Glad that your dream of swimming with dolphins became a reality! And such a wonderful location for it — Puerto Vallerta. Haven’t been there in years — time to go back! Your photos are excellent.

    maitravelsite - September 1, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Cathy! You should…in fact I recently held a contest that gave away a 1 week stay in an apartment here. There is a winner already though!

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