Dolphin Boat Trip in Florida

Boca Boat Cruise Florida

Dolphin boat trip in Florida with Boca Boat Cruises. Picture by Grace Harris © 2014

BOCA BOAT CRUISES has good reviews on TripAdvisor, so we booked a sunset trip with them, because we wanted to take a dolphin boat trip in Florida.

Guests board the boat on a dock opposite the Pink Elephant restaurant at the end of 4th Street on Boca Grande.

If you need a last-minute comfort break ahead of your two-and-a-half hour outing on the water the restaurant is happy for you to use their restrooms.

As you approach the boat for the sunset trip at 16:30 look to the mooring posts and say ‘Hi’ to the photogenic pelicans on sentry duty. Keep an eye out for their friends later in the trip, because once out in the bay you will be treated to a display of precision diving as these elegant birds turn hunter as they seek supper in the water below.

They sweep across at a height of about 30ft and the telltale sign that they’re about to dive comes as they stop flapping and line up their unsuspecting waterborne prey.

Once locked on to their target their gentle glide suddenly switches to a dart-like plummet and with a tiny splash they disappear underwater for a second or two before emerging triumphantly.

That comes later in the cruise, though.

As we push-off from the dock and nudge away from the less energetic pelicans – or those who have already had their fill – we turn left and ease under the tiny bridge which provides access to one of the islands’s golf courses.

Pelicans Boca Grande Florida

Pelicans watch as we slip away from the dock

The sound of car horns suggests an outbreak of road rage on this otherwise blissfully peaceful island, but it turns out that golf buggies and cars have to sound their horns to warn unsighted traffic of their approach.

We glide gently past an enormous multi-storey boat-park and some apartment rentals with life-size tarpon trophies from competitions past. In early summer the off-shore waters come alive as the tarpon competition capital, but we learn that tarpons are no longer kept as trophies once caught but instead are returned to the water ready to be snapped up again.

As we edge round the calm water we are staggered to learn that various properties on this millionaire’s paradise are occupied for only two or three weeks of the year. We see the rooftop of a property where George Bush Junior holidays. Our skipper jokes that when Bush is in town it’s hard to pick out the secret service guys from the locals – sharp suits, white shirts, ties and earpieces help them to blend in.

After easing past a rejuvenated marina the boat picks up speed and the skipper announces excitedly: ‘Let’s go find some dolphins.’ The boat’s new-found speed creates a tempting wake and we look back, expectantly.

Boca Grande Marina

Luxury yachts in the rejuvenated Boca Grande Marina

We have tempered our expectations for fear of suffering disappointment. We’ve been warned that the Florida dolphins here don’t always provide a show for the tourists.

The boat is heading into the wind and we have a slight spray in our faces, but any minor discomfort is forgotten as our our guide, standing beside the captain calls out: ‘Here they are!’

As one, the dozen passengers gasp in amazement as six dolphins – three either side – match the speed of the boat, the dark shadow of their bodies just visible below the surface and with a dorsal fin just breaking through.

This is the prelude to the main show, though.

Before long they take it in turns to leap up and splash back down into the boat’s wake with a satisfying smack-splash sound.

They are so close you get the impression you could reach out and touch them, but they remain teasingly just out of reach.

It’s a wonderful display though, which lasts for two or three minutes, and then they suddenly decide that they’ve wandered far enough from home and gently ease back off the pace.

Shortly, we double back on ourselves and head out toward the potentially turbulent waters at the tip of the island for a close-up view of the famous Boca Lighthouse and the now crumbling jetties.

We enjoy another brief display from the dolphins, and before long the boat slows. We drift for a few moments while the skipper explains about the 60ft depth of the water, making it a suitable location for cargo ships in days gone by.

He did nothing to calm any anxious sailors by revealing the presence of sharks beneath us.

Shortly, we return to calm waters opposite the Pink Elephant and our resting pelicans.

We loved our trip and would recommend it.

  • Visited April 2014


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