The Best Dolphin Cruises Adelaide & South Australia

If you enjoy dolphin cruises, Adelaide is a great place to do this popular wildlife activity. Between 1500 and 2000 wild dolphins live in Adelaide’s gulf waters. Even though Port Adelaide and Adelaide’s northern beaches make up the Adelaide Dolphin sanctuary, you can see dolphins along much of Adelaide’s coastline.

The dolphin watching cruise based in Glenelg is currently the best dolphin cruise in Adelaide. There is also the Port River Dolphin Cruise, Dolphin Sanctuary Kayak tours, and Dolphin Cruises from Kangaroo Island and Coffin Bay. But, for an Adelaide dolphin cruise, check out the team at Temptation Sailing.

Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Curious Campers Website.

Glenelg Marina

Dolphin Cruise Glenelg

Based near one of Adelaide’s favourite beaches, Temptation Sailing leaves from the Holdfast Shores Marina Pier. Dolphins aside, from their big catamaran you get a great view of the Adelaide coastline, the city and distant Mount Lofty Ranges. But dolphin watching is what this cruise is all about and they do it well.

We had a great time on the cruise. Sailing south from Glenelg towards Hove and Hallett Cove, we spotted pods of common and bottle-nosed dolphins. Over the morning we would have seen dozens of dolphins swimming with the boat, leaping, tail slapping and feeding. The best part is you get so close to them. It is a great tour, here is what you need to know…

Common Dolphins

Can you Swim with Dolphins in Adelaide?

Yes, you can, and it is one of the best dolphin swims we have experienced. We have done a few dolphin swims and we have to admit, they have left us feeling a bit underwhelmed. They tend to involve hanging onto a rope off the back of a boat and hoping a dolphin is curious enough to come over and see what you are doing there.

Of course, anyone who loves dolphins will tell you that it’s the front of the boat, the bow, where dolphins like to swim and that is exactly where you are for this dolphin swim. A net at the front of the boat gets you within arms-reach of the dolphins as they play at the bow. It is a front row seat and an amazing experience.

Because not everyone will fit on the front net, there is still the tow behind the boat. While you don’t get the same view as you do at the bow, they do hang around the back long enough for you to get some great dolphin views. The crew are good at making sure everyone gets a chance for the dolphin swim at the front of the boat.

Dolphin Cruises

Do you have to Swim with the Dolphins?

No, you can choose whether you get wet or stay dry. Swimming with dolphins is a lot of fun, but it’s not for everyone. Hanging onto the rope at the back of the boat and getting up and down from the net takes a bit of effort. You also have to wear a facemask and snorkel. If that sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry. The view of the dolphins from the boat is fantastic. You can move around the boat to keep an eye on them, you can see them at the bow and you get to watch them as they approach. If you go for the Dolphin Watch option, you won’t be missing out.

Dolphin Cruises in South Australia

How long does a Dolphin Cruise last?

Expect to spend around 4 hours on the water. Part of the time is spent looking for dolphins, which is something the crew seem to have a sixth sense for achieving. But most of the time you are either watching them from the water or spotting them from the deck. Do remember though that there are no guarantees when you are nature spotting, so your experience might be a little different.

YouTube video

How much is the Adelaide Dolphin cruise?

A swim with the dolphins in peak season (December, January and February) is around $149 per adult and a bit less in the off season. For dolphin watching, adults pay $88 in peak season and children 15 under are $78. Take off another $10 for the prices in the off season. Book here.

  • Swim with Dolphins from Adelaide – Glide across the water in search of pods of dolphins living in Holdfast Bay. Watch from the boat or jump in alongside these amazing creatures
Swim with Dolphins

What to bring on the Dolphin Cruise?

Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. It is always a little cooler out on the water. You also need to bring your own drinks and snacks. If you are getting in the water, all your gear is provided which includes wetsuits, snorkels and facemasks. If you wear glasses, they even have prescription facemasks. BYO towel.

If you enjoy wildlife photography, bring a camera. The dolphins get so close to the boat you should be able to get some good shots and your camera should stay dry. Otherwise, you can purchase pictures and videos taken by the crew from your cruise.

Port Adelaide

Port River Dolphin Cruise

With the possible exception of Adelaide’s two pandas, no other creatures are so fondly regarded as the Port River Dolphins. The creation of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is testament to the connection locals have with the dolphins. Port River Cruises gives you the chance to spot the river dolphins on this 90 minute tour that leaves from the wharf near the lighthouse at the end of Port Road.

Not only does the cruise take you on a dolphin spotting safari through the Port River section of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, but you also get a great taste for the rich maritime and cultural history of the area. Get an up-close look at the Ships Graveyard, the bird sanctuary near Garden Island and hear commentary about the river’s importance to local aboriginals.

For an extra cost, you can also get a box of local seafood to enjoy along the way. We have done 3 Port River Cruises over the past few years and have always caught sight of the dolphins. Even if you just catch a glimpse of them, learning about the Port Adelaide area makes for an interesting tour.

Dolphin Kayak
Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary

Port River Dolphin Kayak

If you want to get out onto the water to see the Port River dolphins, you can, but you’ll use a bit more energy than being aboard a boat. We have done this kayak tour a couple of times and it is great fun. Obviously, it is a more active way to spot dolphins than being on a cruise, but it is fun seeing them at water level.

The kayak tour leaves from the Garden Island Boat ramp. Your experienced and helpful guides take you into mangrove lined creeks and the Ships’ Graveyard. The graveyard is the resting place for over 25 wrecks, some dating back to the 1850s. It is a great way to learn a little of The Port’s history and natural significance.

And there’s the dolphins. We saw them on both of our tours (again, there are no guarantees what you will see…). On one tour, a dolphin swum alongside our kayak. It was super exciting, and we couldn’t believe how big they are up close. Another time we saw them from a distance playing and jumping out of the water. The guides are passionate about the dolphins, know them all by name and have a knack for tracking them down. While it isn’t a dolphin cruise, it is still great fun.

Kayaks are also available to hire and you can explore the river at your leisure. There are single, double and triple seat kayaks available. The 3 hour tour starts from $72 for adults. Make sure you book, it’s a popular activity and a great chance to see a wild dolphin in quite an unusual habitat.

Dolphin Cruises beyond Adelaide

One of our favourite wildlife cruises is the Big Duck Tour that leaves from Victor Harbour. It is not specifically a dolphin cruise, but we have seen dolphins the three times we have done it. On one occasion, a pod of 20 common dolphins swum alongside the boat for 5 or 10 minutes. As a bonus you’ll also likely spot seals and bunch of different birds and maybe a whale in winter.

There are also dolphin cruises on Kangaroo Island. Leaving from Kingscote and Emu Bay there is the chance to snorkel with the local dolphins and perhaps a curious seal that might be around. Like the Glenelg dolphin cruise, there is the option to stay in the boat or hop in the water with the dolphins.

If you are on the west coast of South Australia there is a dolphin swim or watch cruise that leaves from Coffin Bay with Sunset Charters. This is a 5 hour cruise. Not only will you get to see the resident dolphin population, it is also a great way to see one of the most beautiful parts of the coast on Eyre Peninsula.

  • Swim with Dolphins on Kangaroo Island – See seals, sea eagles and ospreys, view ancient fossil beds and experience the magic of swimming with wild bottlenose dolphins in the protected waters
Whyalla Dolphin

Where else can you see Dolphins around South Australia?

As you might have gathered, there are lots of dolphins in the waters around South Australia. Spend enough time on a beach gazing out at the water and you might spot them. We regularly see them from shore between Brighton and Hallett Cove. We have had them swim right past us when we were snorkelling at the Star of Greece Wreck at Port Willunga.

Other good land based dolphin vantage points are around Victor Harbor and Port Elliot south of Adelaide. Take a seat along the Freemans Lookout walkway. There are great views and we have spotted dolphins swimming along the coast here. We have also spotted them in the marina on Granite Island and in Encounter Bay in front of the Waitpinga Cliffs.

Another great spot for a dolphin encounter is Whyalla. You might think this industrial city is the last place you’d see dolphins, but they follow fishing boats into the marina and you can get a great look at them. Read about our Whyalla dolphin encounter here.

Read More :  Whyalla Marina Dolphins

If you enjoyed this story you might also like:

Whale Shark Experience Blowhole Beach  |  Swim with Sea Lions

Like it? Pin it for Later…

Dolphin Cruise Adelaide
Dolphin Cruise Adelaide
Dolphin Cruise Adelaide
Dolphin Cruise Adelaide
Things to do in Australia

Join our mailing list and receive our Free Top 500 things to do in Australia. If you love the Australian Outdoors download this list and keep it handy when you are planning a weekend away or a road trip around Australia.

Recent Posts

Leave a comment