Did you know?
Bottlenose dolphins can live for up to 50 years
Bottlenose, Haviside's and humpback dolphins can be seen from the shores of many coastal towns around South Africa. Even better is to engage with them in their natural habitat while on a boat or kayak dolphin tour.
During the annual sardine run, a large-scale northern migration of the silvery little fish, dolphins abound. During this two-month period, you can see massive pods of dolphins riding the waves like surfers as they shadow the sardine migration.
Plettenberg Bay, along the Garden Route, is a popular dolphin-watching destination; there are numerous places where travellers can watch and photograph bottlenose dolphins from the shore.
When you take a boat ride with Ocean Safaris, a company dedicated to the observation and preservation of dolphins, you'll not only have a thrilling marine encounter, but you'll also be contributing to the ongoing research and information-sharing of South Africa's only accredited dolphin research institute.
Dolphin Adventures offers sea kayaking, allowing explorers to get much closer to these beautiful animals. Dolphins, being highly inquisitive creatures, often splash around near the boats and might even perform a few tricks to show off.
Travellers passing through Cape Town can watch dolphins from the shore in places like Simon's Town and along the False Bay coast.
Along the Western Cape's West Coast region, the smaller Haviside's dolphin is more prevalent. Lambertsbaai Boat Trips, in the Sandveld area just three hours' drive north of Cape Town, offer tours throughout the year and have a near-flawless record of spotting these dolphins when out in the surf.
Swimming with dolphins in South Africa is strictly illegal, enforced by the Marine Living Resources Act. Scientific studies suggest that the feeding and nursery habits of dolphins are disturbed when people swim with them. Please do not engage tour operators who offer this illegal service.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Best time to visit
The best time to see dolphins is during the sardine run, which takes place between May and July. But you will, more than likely, spot them at other times of the year too.
Hiring your own vehicle is the most convenient option.
What to pack
Bring your binoculars and camera. And don't forget sunscreen and a hat.