Last Updated on December 27, 2022

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Did you know that hundreds of dolphins live in the warm waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast?  It’s true!  In this post, we’ll look at the highest-rated dolphin tours in Sarasota and Anna Maria Island, Florida. 
 
Head out on the waters on a clear and sunny day, and chances are good you’ll catch sight of these playful intelligent creatures.  And what better way to seek them out than by booking a boat tour?
 
Florida’s scenic keys and idyllic bays, mangrove forests, and perfect sandbars make for incredible destinations even without adding dolphins to the mix.  Swim, paddle, snap pictures, and go shelling.
 
These are only a few of the activities you can enjoy in between looking for marine life.  Talk about amazing!
 
So what are you waiting for?  Check out these six best Sarasota and Anna Maria Island dolphin tours to make your visit top-of-the-line special.
 

 

Top Choice 🏆

Sarasota &  Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours

Half-Day Private Sarasota Charter Tour With Wildlife Watching

 

 

6 Best Sarasota & Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours (2023)!

Photo Credit- Siesta Funship

One of the best ways to see dolphins in Sarasota is by heading into the Siesta Key on this Funship Adventure dolphin cruise!

This tour is rated 5 Stars on Viator with over 10 reviews

 

Tour length- Approximately 4 Hours

One of the best ways to see dolphins in Sarasota is by heading into the Siesta Key on this Funship Adventure dolphin cruise!
 
Enjoy a four-hour tour led by Captain Joe.  Start the day off by searching the waters for dolphins and manatees. 
 
Next, you’ll enjoy a stop at a sandbar for time to enjoy the water. Swim, go down the waterslide off the boat, or paddleboard. 
 
The Captain also provides a lily pad, chairs, and floats, so you can lounge to your heart’s content.  Bring your own beer and store it in the on-boat cooler.
 
Dog lovers will enjoy the tour even more thanks to Captain Cosmo, a cute little dog who spends his time on board.
 
This tour is highly rated and lasts approximately four hours. Departure is from Siesta Drive, Sarasota FL. 
 
Featured Review:
 
Best part of our vacation!!!  We had a blast going down the water slide!  Water and a cooler were provided as well which was so nice.  All the girls said that the boat trip was one of the best parts of the weekend.  We even saw dolphins and sand dollars!  I’m so happy I booked with Siesta Funship and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time with friends or family.

Trip Advisor Reviewer
 

 

 

This tour is rated 5 Stars on Viator with over 17 reviews!

 

Tour length- Approximately 4 hours

 

Explore the beauties of Sarasota Bay on your very own private charter.  This tour will take you into the crystalline waters of paradise on a Sylvan Tritoon boat.
 
Cater the charter to your interests by choosing to search for dolphins, go swimming and snorkeling off of sandbars, visit top beaches for sunset, or learn about history and architecture during the cruise.
 
Or maybe you’d rather do a mix of several options? You can do so! This tour is all about what YOU want to do to make sure you have an incredible day.
 
Breathtaking scenery and fun experiences await on this private charter trip.  The tour lasts 4 hours and includes a Yeti cooler so you can bring your own drinks and snacks.
 
Featured Review:
 
Thank you for such a perfect day on the water!!  Captain Bobby was wonderful!  We saw so much wildlife, enjoyed a dip in the water on a sandbar, had lunch at a little tiki hideaway, and enjoyed hearing about the area from a local!  A perfect day spent with friends.  The boat was in tip-top shape and very comfortable for 6 ladies.  There was shade and also a bar area to enjoy the hours on the water.  Thank you again, Captain Bobby!!  We will definitely be back next year 🙂

Cara_L 

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 4-Hour Private Charter

 

 

Photo Credit- Siesta Key Boat Charters

This Crab Island tour is different from the rest, as you’ll take a small speedboat out into the Florida waters in search of some of the native dolphins.

This company is rated 5 Stars on Viator with over 50 reviews!

 

Tour length- Approximately 3 Hours 

 

Explore the lagoons, keys, and pristine beaches of the Florida gulf coast on this half-day private charter.  You can look for dolphins, tropical fish, manatees, and more.

This badge-of-excellence tour is a perfect choice for groups of friends and family or a romantic getaway for you and your significant other.  

During your idyllic time on the water, you can see a historic swing bridge, go shelling, stop for a refreshing break at a tiki, and spot dolphins in Heron Lagoon, Casey Key, and Venice Inlet.  You’ll also pass gorgeous homes and scenic mangroves.  Fun!  

This four-hour tour includes snacks, bottled water, a Bluetooth stereo for your music, a cooler, and beach toys.  The best part?  The captain will tailor the experience to your preferences, making sure you get to do your favorite activities. 

Featured Review:

Captain Justin somehow managed to show us dolphins playing and actually jumping out of the water.  We even saw a dolphin family – the cutest baby ever!  And he found manatees, which delighted our California friends.  His knowledge of the waterway and local lore was impressive….I’ll definitely book another trip with Captain Justin when friends come to visit.  If you’re thinking about going you should make your reservation now!

Gina_I 

 

 

Photo Credit- Shellebrate Boat Tours

Explore the crystalline waters of the Florida Gulf Coast on this fabulous boat tour complete with time on the water and tasty/refreshing stops.

This company is rated 5 Stars on Viator with over 28 reviews!

 

Tour length- Approximately 3 Hours

 

Dolphins and tiki bar hopping, what could be better?  Explore the crystalline waters of the Florida Gulf Coast on this fabulous boat tour complete with time on the water and tasty/refreshing stops.
 
Keep a lookout for dolphins and manatees, soak in the relaxing Sarasota scenery, go shelling, and learn about the area from your expert captain.
 
During this tour, you’ll pass by Marina Jack’s, O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill, The Old Salty Dog, and Bird Key Park.
 
The captain will happily tailor the tour to your requests to ensure you have a chill and fun experience.
 
This highly-rated private charter includes private transportation on a roomy and comfortable boat with an onboard restroom.
 
Be sure to budget enough for tiki bar snacks and cocktails as you cruise from Siesta Key to Venice Florida.
 
This tour is a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or simply make your vacation that much more spectacular.
 
Featured Review:
 
Captain Rachel was wonderful!  She was so knowledgeable about the area and took us to a beautiful beach for shelling.  Big plus, we saw dolphins!  A perfect day on the water!

Kimberly_C 

 

 

 

Explore the beautiful area from a 25-foot boat, swim in the luscious waters, sunbathe, and seek out dolphins.

This tour is rated 5 Stars with over 32 reviews! 

 

Tour length- Approximately 4 Hours

 

Luxury and fun combine on this awesome Sarasota charter.  Explore the beautiful area from a 25-foot boat, swim in the luscious waters, sunbathe, and seek out dolphins.  What you do is up to you!

Unlike most of the tours previously mentioned, this half-day charter includes snacks, soda, alcoholic beverages, and bottled water.

As an added bonus, you can choose your preferred boat and time.  Head out early to watch the sunrise, go dolphin watching, or catch the sunset.

Explore aboard a Luxury Bowrider Boat or a Yacht with an onboard bathroom with a shower, a small cabin, and a stereo.

If you’d like, you can stop for lunch at a tiki bar or get your food to-go and have a picnic at a sandbar.  Take pictures and dance to tunes, or chill and drink in the scenery.

No matter how you spend your day on the water, you’ll love this customizable private boat tour.

Featured Review:

Captain Carlos was fantastic!  He gave us a tour of the area while masterfully navigating the waters.  We even saw a few dolphins at play.  We stopped to pick up lunch at Tide Tables and took it with us to a sandbar to eat and play.  The water felt amazing and the area was absolutely beautiful.  The boat was in great condition and was stocked with water, Perrier, champagne, and beer.  Carlos was gracious and took great care of us all!

delaramotlagh

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Half-Day All The Way

 

 

Photo Credit- Eco Seafari 

Sneak up on wildlife on this electric boat eco seafari tour.

This tour is rated 5 Stars! 

 

Tour length- Approximately 2 Hours

 

Sneak up on wildlife on this electric boat eco seafari tour. 

Thanks to the quiet motor, you can get up close and personal with wildlife, including pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, great blue herons, bald eagles, and more.  They’ll barely even notice you are there!

Search for dolphins and porpoises playing in the blue water, then kick back with a cold Michelob Ultra Beer or a glass of champagne.

Explore Anna Maria and Longboat Key aboard an all-electric Duffy boat.  Nothing beats this leisurely adventure, especially if you love scenery and birding!

Add a special touch to your vacation by booking this two-hour tour. It includes transportation, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages.

Featured Review:

Today, we enjoyed a two-hour excursion cruising the waters of Sarasota Bay with Captain Doug… Along the way, we saw an absolutely amazing array of wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, ospreys… At one point, Captain Doug tiptoed to within a few feet of a pelican rookery on a mangrove island, which was truly memorable. We were so quiet there and elsewhere on the cruise that the birds paid little attention to our presence. This was clearly a highlight of our visit to AMI this year, and we highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates the vast array of wildlife or simply enjoys being out on the water.

Trip Advisor Reviewer

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Seafari Group Eco Tour

What Should I Bring On The Sarasota & Anna Maria Island DolphinTour?

 

All of the tours on this list will provide almost everything you need, but there are a few additional things to pack.

Always remember your sunscreen to help protect your skin from the hot Florida sun.

On top of the sunscreen, you’ll also want sunglasses and a sun hat to keep the sun out of your face.  Lastly, bring a water bottle to keep yourself hydrated throughout the tour.

Here are more essentials for your trip!

 

Never hit the water without your sunscreen.  You’ll want at least SPF 30 to protect from the Florida sun.

 

 

Sun Bum Sun Screen 


If you’re planning a boat cruise, quick drying beach towels are an essential item to pack.  Unlike regular towels, quick drying beach towels are made from materials that dry quickly, meaning you won’t have to worry about them getting wet and heavy as the day goes on.

 Quick Drying Beach Towel

Bring back memories from your underwater adventure with this waterproof camera!

Waterproof Camera

Keep your phone dry and take beautiful pictures under water with a waterproof phone case. 

Waterproof Phone Case 

Sarasota & Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours: Final Thoughts

 

As you can see, there are many wonderful choices when it comes to Sarasota and Anna Maria Island dolphin tours! 

The beautiful scenery and abundance of wildlife are sure to make your trip extra special. 

Add to that the chance to see dolphins, manatees, and porpoises, and you could end up making memories that will last a lifetime!

So what will you choose?  What tour looks like the most fun?  Will you tiki bar hop, swim off a sandbar, relax aboard a chartered yacht, or go on a seafari aboard a whisper-quiet electric boat?

Travel Resources

 

Book Your Next Trip!  For Accommodations and short-term rentals, I recommend Booking.com as they are the best in the business when it comes to rates and places to stay.

To Book Activities- For activities, I suggest booking with Viator, they have thousands of 5-star activities to choose from!

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