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Best Time of Year (And Day) to See Dolphins in Destin Florida

Best Time of Year (And Day) to See Dolphins in Destin Florida

It’s no secret that dolphins are one of the most popular animals in Destin, Florida. Renowned for their acrobatic abilities and goofy personalities, dolphins are exciting to watch. With about 40,000 dolphins situated in the Gulf of Mexico, there are abundant opportunities for travelers on the Emerald Coast to catch a glimpse of these spectacular mammals.

To help get the most of your getaway, our handy guide will give you insight into the best time of year to see dolphins in Destin, Florida.

The Dolphins of Destin

Various types of dolphin reside in the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, the Atlantic spotted dolphin can periodically be seen in the Indian Ocean from the coast of Destin. Nonetheless, the most commonly spotted dolphins in Destin are the Tursiops truncates or bottlenose dolphins.

Also popularly known as porpoises, these dolphins are entirely different species even though they share certain traits. Bottlenose dolphins typically have lightly-colored bellies and are blue-grey. Adult bottlenose dolphins can range from 6ft to 12ft in length, on average.

Dolphins reside in groups known as pods that typically comprise anywhere between 10 and 30 members. These pods frequently work together to hunt schools of fish. Contrary to other coastal communities, Destin has a large population of dolphins that reside in the area year-round. They don’t migrate as the waters of the Emerald Coast remain warm all year.

From late spring to the end of summer, female dolphins from other areas flock to Destin when mating season rolls around. As such, this time of year is perfect for dolphin watching.

Where to Spot Dolphins in Destin, Florida

You can see dolphins from various spots in Destin. Many visitors decide to remain on the high floors of beachfront hotels because these mammals can be easily spotted from the balconies. Walking on the sands of Elgin Beach Park or Henderson State Park ushers in the likelihood of seeing dolphins at a distance.

It helps to be on the water for the highest likelihood of getting an up-close view of dolphins. A guided dolphin cruise ferries passengers to renowned dolphin-sighting spots. However, having a pontoon boat rental ushers in increased freedom. 

Boats can remain within Choctawhatchee Bay, with dolphins often seen swimming below the Destin Bridge. At times, these mammals can be seen in the waters of Destin Harbor.

Best Time Of Day To Spot Dolphin In Destin Florida

What are Tips To See Dolphins in Destin Fl?

Although predicting the habits and location of wild animals is nearly impossible, you can do a few tips and tricks, as discussed below, to boost your likelihood of spying a few dolphins.

  1. Avoid swimming with dolphins in the wild. It’s not only illegal to pet and feed them but can also be dangerous for even the strongest swimmers. The best way is to appreciate their beauty from the safety of a boat.
  2. In addition to Henderson Beach State Park and Eglin Beach Park, other popular areas to see dolphins include Crystal Beach and Miramar Beach.
  3. A foolproof way of attempting to catch a glimpse of dolphins is from a double-decker boat’s upper deck. At Destiny Water Adventures, we offer full-day or half-day charters of our pontoon boats. Regardless of whether you’re yearning to party at Crab Island, cruise the Choctawhatchee Bay, or spot dolphins in Destin, we provide the perfect pontoon boat charters for a memorable trip.
  4. Contrary to the assumption that your pontoon boat must move at the slowest possible speed to spot dolphins, the truth is, these animals enjoy the wake. When it’s legal and safe to do so, picking up the pace may make them easier to spot.
  5. It is worth noting that dolphins are usually found in clusters of 4 to 7 in shallower areas. Therefore, upon spotting one dolphin, chances are, a few more are lurking in the area.
  6. Dolphins are most active at the crack of dawn, between 10 am and noon, and from 2 pm till dusk.
  7. A great pair of telephoto lenses or binoculars can be invaluable tools to spot dolphins easily.

When Is The Most Ideal Time To Visit Destin, Florida?

Now that you’re aware of when and how to spot dolphins in Destin, it’s time to delve into the best time to visit the area. Deciding when to visit Destin entails analyzing your vacation priorities and factoring in the weather, beach conditions, crowd events, and seasonal events are different times of the year. Although Destin lacks the standard four climate seasons, there are four unique tourist seasons.

Best Time To Visit Destin Florida

Summer in Destin: Mid-May to Mid-August

  • Weather: Hot
  • Prices: Peak
  • Crowds: Busy
  • Tourist Demographics: Most Families

Destin’s best beaches will have the largest crowds when summer rolls around with heavy traffic, particularly in the evenings and throughout the weekend. The road development on Highway 98 over the recent past has only worsened the traffic congestion issues. However, some parts of it are beginning to clear up.

The number of golf carts beings used for traveling, particularly along the 5 miles of Scenic 98, has skyrocketed. It stretches to the road past Surf Hut restaurant from Henderson Beach State Park as a popular beach road. Street legal golf carts are permitted on all roads with a maximum speed limit of 35mph. However, most of them only range from 15mph to 25mph, undoubtedly slowing things down.

People riding scooters, cycling, and walking everywhere means you need to leave ample time to get to your destination if you’re driving. Keep in mind that prices are at their peak in summer when it comes to activities, accommodation, and everything in between. A few days in July is similarly priced to a few weeks during the winter.

From Memorial Day all through mid-August, you can expect a spike in the prices. Finding deals or discounts when summer rolls around in Destin is no easy feat as the area usually maxes out on occupancy around this time. Summer tourists comprise families with young children, which means there’s no shortage of events and activities targeted towards them. They include pirate shows, pirate ship excursions, movies on the lawn, and the following top-rated kid-friendly restaurants where they can delight in a vast assortment of mouthwatering meals.

  • Fubars at Okaloosa Island
  • Flounders at Pensacola Beach
  • Fudpuckers at Destin
  • Juanas at Navarre
  • McGuires at Destin
  • Lulus at Miramar
  • Marlin Grill located inside the village at Baytown Wharf in Miramar 
  • The Gulf at Fort Walton Beach
  • Say Cheese in Destin

Aside from excursions, events, and restaurants, there’s a boatload of water sports adventures in which you can revel. They include zip-lining, fishing, fly-boarding, banana boat rides, parasailing, jet-skiing, bungee jumping, stand-up paddle-boarding, and boating. Additionally, summer marks the fireworks season every week, usually at Destin Disney World.

The fireworks show occurs in Destin from Memorial Day until mid-August every Thursday at the Harborwalk Village, The Okaloosa Island Boardwalk on Wednesdays, and the Village of Baytowne Wharf on Tuesdays. These shows go on for a period of 5 to 7 minutes. The bigger and better fireworks shows occur on the 4th of July, so ensure you catch the action if you’re in Destin in the summer.

Regarding the weather, although it’s hot, the humidity isn’t uncomfortable as in September and August. Most of the rainfall of the year is experienced in summer. Nonetheless, it’s short afternoon showers that won’t overly disrupt your vacation. Bearing this in mind, it’s canceling plans depending on the weather forecast isn’t recommended.

After all, it’s just a brief shower, even on a high percentage of rain prediction. Ten-day forecasts in summer will usually depict a 40% to 50% chance of rain daily, causing a multitude of people to postpone their trip when usually the rains briefly or not at all.

Less Crowded Times To Visit Destin Florida On Vacation

Fall In Destin: Mid-August to Mid-November

  • Tourist Demographic: Families,  Adults, and Couples during Fall Break
  • Prices: Moderate
  • Weather: Humid and hot in early fall but cooler evenings and lower humidity in the coming months
  • Crowds: Moderate

Fall is an incredible time to visit Destin. It’s when the locals come out of a hiatus after the intense summer to delight in all the festivities and fishing events that come with the season. The magnificence of fall in Destin used to be a well-kept secret of the locals until the world caught on over the last few years.

Travelers are coming in droves to take advantage of the lower pricing of everything. What’s more, the beaches are unarguably breathtaking in the months of fall. The heaviest summer crowds have left, and the water is still sufficiently warm to revel in swimming.

The beach is especially a sight for sore eyes during this period as the sea oats are in full bloom, adding abundant beauty to the landscape. While the sea oats are present in summer, they don’t start blooming until June, hitting their peak in the early months of fall. Need more insight to for the best family vacation activities? Reach out to us at Destiny Water Adventures today. 


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