A Guide to Dolphin Tours in Corpus Christi (Can you really swim with dolphins?)

dolphin tour guide swimming with dolphins corpus christi

Here’s a fun and unique way to complete your visit to the Gulf City of Corpus Christi – a Dolphin Tour.

The Gulf of Mexico is home nine different species of dolphins, with the most common dolphin in Corpus Christi being the bottlenose dolphin.

So, why not take a tour to see these amazing animals up close?

Of course, choosing which tour to take can be a little overwhelming. Different tours vary in their intensity, with some lasting just half an hour and others being an all day event.

To help you make your choice, I’ve broken down your best options for dolphin tours in Corpus Christi. As a longtime Corpus Christi local, I’ve been on many of these tours myself and can hopefully provide you with some helpful inside info!

First thing’s first, can you really swim with dolphins in Corpus Christi?

For some reason, everyone thinks you can go swimming with the dolphins in Corpus Christi.

Unfortunately, there are no programs set in place to swim with dolphins in Corpus Christi. So no, you cannot swim with dolphins in Corpus Christi. (Or anywhere else in Texas, for that matter.)

To be fair, this is probably a good thing. The bottlenose dolphins you’ll find around Corpus Christi weigh an average of 660 pounds and can reach lengths of over 13 feet!

Combine that size with their whip-smart intelligence, an ability to swim up to 20 miles per hour, and their potential for aggressive behavior with other creatures in the water, and you probably don’t want to be swimming with these guys, anyway.

Did I mention they have 80-100 sharp teeth?

Yeah, despite their (somewhat inaccurate) reputation as smiling playmates, I think I’ll stay in the boat.

Fear not, though! You can still experience Corpus Christi’s dolphins in a number of wonderful ways.

How to see dolphins up close in Corpus Christi

The best way to see dolphins in Corpus Christi is via a guided boat tour.

A boat is a comfortable and safe way to see these amazing creatures in their natural, wild habitat. On several tours, the dolphins are known to come right up to the boat, so you can get up close and personal with the dolphins. (While still maintaining a safe distance for you AND them.)

The Three Best Dolphin Tours in Corpus Christi

Let’s dive into my favorite dolphin tours!

1. Dolphin Connection

Dolphin Connection is a wonderful place for having a dolphin experience that you will never forget. As maybe the most popular tour provider in the area, they are a great choice for amazing dolphin interactions in their natural habitat.

They offer three different tours:

Option 1: Early Bird

Who doesn’t want to see dolphins first thing in the morning? This 10:30 AM tour will show you a glance of dolphins early in the morning as they eat breakfast from nearby shrimping boats!

Although the primary focus revolves around dolphins, the Early Bird tour also features a variety of other wildlife. Common sightings include ring-billed gulls, brown pelicans, and other special bird species.

Option 2: Extreme Dolphin Watching

The Extreme Dolphin Watching tour takes dolphin tours to new heights!

This tour uses a powerboat to race into rougher waters, in hopes of grabbing the ultimate catch – views of dolphins surfing the ocean’s waves!

This tour takes place at 12:00 PM which is the perfect time for water fun and soaking up rays!

Option 3: Dolphin Dating and Ingleside Industry

The dolphin dating and Ingleside industry tour is an opportunity for you to take a first-hand glance at the intricate dating ritual of dolphins. This mating ritual occurs in the afternoon, with the tour taking place at exactly 1:30 PM.

2. Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventure

The Scarlet Lady Dolphin Tours is another great dolphin tour provider near Corpus Christi.

Although Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventures is technically located in Port Aransas (about 30-40 minutes from downtown Corpus Christi) it is still worth mentioning because it is so great!

Scarlet Lady utilizes a 50 foot catamaran boat that holds about 50 passengers, so you can comfortably cruise the waters of the Lydia Ann Channel. If you’re prone to motion sickness, this is probably the best cruise to go with.

Option 1: Dolphin Adventure Trip Tour

The Dolphin Adventure Trip is the Scarlet Lady’s most popular tour. This 1.5 hour tour cruises the waters near Port Aransas looking for dolphins, sea birds, and other natural wildlife.

Generally, there are two tours offered daily, one at 11:00 AM and another at 2:30 PM.

Option 2: Sunset Tour

On the Sunset Tour, you’ll view an amazing sunset while seeing dolphins in the setting sun. You’ll also grab a perfect view of the iconic Lydia Ann Lighthouse at sunset.

This tour is especially popular for photographers, since the sunset and golden lighting make for the best photos.

Option 3: 4th of July Fireworks Cruise

As you’d expect, the exclusive 4th of July Fireworks Cruise package is only offered during the fourth of July weekend.

Not only will you see dolphins as they jump around the ocean, but you can enjoy the view of the July 4th fireworks as they reflect off the ocean.

Pro tip: To be guaranteed a spot, this must be booked months in advance. If all the spots are booked, it’s worth calling and asking to put on a waiting list, in case someone cancels.

3. Sunset Sail Charters

Ever wanted to go dolphin viewing in a sail boat?

If so, then Sunset Sail Charters is your tour.

Not only will you cruise along in a sailboat, but while on your tour, Sunset Sail Charters provides food and drinks which vary based on package.

Option 1: Half-Day Charter

Half-Day Charters are five-hour-long charter rides in the ocean that give you perfect views of all kinds of dolphin species. These charters start around $350, with prices varying depending on what type of food you’d like (they offer everything from hot dogs to premium steaks) and what sort of beverage (everything from Bud Light to craft beer with a Champagne toast).

Option 2: Full-Day Charter (The Best Deal!!)

Sunset Sail Charters offers a full-day option too, which lasts eight hours.

The full day charter sails to a private beach, where you can kayak to shore.

At eight hours long, you’re sure to see some dolphins jumping around along the way.

Dolphin Bay at the Texas State Aquarium (View dolphins from land)

If you’d prefer to stay on land, Dolphin Bay at Texas State Aquarium is the perfect place to sit back and view bottlenose dolphins. There are nearly a half dozen dolphins at Dolphin Bay who have been humanely trained to do tricks.

Plus, visiting Texas State Aquarium for your dolphin tour is fantastic because you can take a look around the rest of the impressive Aquarium afterward.

The average fee for Dolphin Bay is around $30. Depending on age, this price can vary.

Texas State Aquarium Dolphin Show

The bottlenose dolphins at Texas State Aquarium do shows twice a day. If you’re interested in their airborne acrobatics, you can view the show from the top level. Or, for a more immersive experience, you can head to the underwater observation area, which includes a 70-foot glass window where you can watch the dolphins swim up close.

Map of Dolphin Experiences near Corpus Christi