Kayaking With Dolphins

Ok worth a shot here… Last time I was in Virginia Beach (didn’t have my kayak at the time) they said dolphins swim right off shore.

Just wondering if anyone has ever been out kayaking and been joined by some dolphins?

Looking for flipper stories here =)



– Last Updated: Jun-09-06 10:54 PM EST –

Nearly every time I go out in the ocean at Virginia Beach and Sandbridge I end up seeing some close by. It's quite amazing.

One of the tricks is to just keep paddling slowly and steadily and let them come to you, rather than chasing them down or stopping alltogether.

Several local touring companies also offer dolphin kayak tours.

They often come check you out while kayak surfing early in the morning here in southern California. Occaisionally they will surf with you too, pretty amazing. I have found if I paddle very hard and fast up the back of really steep waves, fly off the back and let my kayak slap the water hard, it attracts them.

I’ve paddled with dolphins just outside of Marina Del Rey (near LAX) as well as just outside of Channel Islands Harbor (Ventura, CA).

Lots of times in San Diego
a few times in the Golden Gate and off Santa Cruz. I seem to relate better to gray whales and sea lions than to dolphins.

Sea Lions
We see these too – on almost every trip.

St. Augustine, FL
I rented a Tempest 170 a few weeks ago and I paddled down the Matanzas River (Intercoastal) where I saw numerous dolphins. As I passed through the inlet of the river to the Atlantic, I saw two dolphins periodically surfacing ahead. I paddled past them and let them catch up to me. For the next 45 minutes they swam beside me, criss-crossing underneath my boat. A few times they surfaced within 3 feet of my boat and I could look right into their eyes. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve even experienced while kayaking.

It was too rough in the ocean to film them, but I did get a clip of other dolphins approaching my boat on the Matanzas River. Two of them were startled by my presence at the end of the clip.

(6mb file) http://www.thedigipics.com/pics/dolphin.avi

While paddling fast and steady I had two of them join me about 20’ off each beam and keep pace with me. They would take turns disappearing under the kayak and then surfacing directly in front of my bow. Very cool.

Many times, but the best
was two years ago down in Florida on my birthday.

Two of them surfaced directly in front of my kayak and both did a flip up in the air like you see the pictures of them doing it at sea world.

They were so close that I got splashed by them.

It was probably one of the nicest birthday presents I have ever received.



Sanibel Island
We were out paddling at Sanibel Island…it happened. Right along the causeway. Just hanging out with us. I read someplace that they love to swim in a wake, any wake. So keep looking behind you.

Pamlico Sound
is a great place to paddle with dolphins. A couple of years ago a lady friend and I paddled about 5 miles with a pod of about 40 dolphins. And where I live (Broad Creek, Pamlico County)it is not unusual to see them at the dock at the end of the street (2 miles from Pamlico Sound).


Outer Banks
Vacationed in Corolla the year before last, and rented a surf kayak for the week. Great fun that, and days while my family was relaxing on the beach, I’d occasionally paddle for fitness up and down the shoreline outside the breakers as well.

From the beach you’d occasionally view pods of dolphins cruising by, and once, a giant ocean sunfish, a great black mass, that had the entire beach down at the surf line, shielding their eyes from the sun’s glare and pointing in amazement.

Every once in a while when a pod would travel past, I’d leap into the surf kayak and try to paddle out to them, hoping that they might exact a u turn and I could be among them for a period. No luck. By the time I’d forged past the breakers they were long gone.

One day late in the week, after observing a SOT kayaker WAAAAAY out there on successsive outings, I decided to try a different tact. It was dead calm, with only the slightest of swells beyond the surf line. Paddled straight out to where the sounds of the beach could no longer be heard; the shoreline was a hazy strip, and my only accompaniment was the occasional flock of pelicans gliding by. It was more than a bit eerie out there, the calm was most unnerving when one becomes accustomed to the summer sounds of the beach.

Paddled slowly for about ten minutes pausing every now and again to view the perspective from out there. Suddenly, the sudden sharp exhale of breaths were all around me. A curious pod of five or six dolphins had discovered me and were giving me a closer look. They gracefully slid under my boat. I could see their dark shapes passing beneath me, occasionally breaching 15-20 feet away, the smooth arch of their backs as they came up for breath, in one motion exhaling in a sudden, sharp hiss of mist, then beneath the surface again in one arc, with neither pause nor hesitation. At one point,one individual drifted lazily up about 6 feet from my boat, and lazily rolled to its side, with one eye out of the water, trained on me, giving me a closer look. Amazing. Like nothing ever before witnessed.

The duration of time was regretfully short in the midst of them, only about three to four minutes, then the pod was gone, and I was left with the nervous excitement of having been privvy to something that not many will experience, and the feeling that I’d just been gifted with something very special.

Kayaked with dolphins numerous times
A couple of weeks ago while in the Gulf came upon 2 matting pods of 5 dolpins each that were in a matting frenzy. It looked like 4 males were pursuing a lone female. They didn’t pay any attention to us so we were able to stayed with them and observed their breeding for several minutes.

Off Wrightsville Beach
I paddled Inlet to Inlet offshore last weekend. I saw two dolphin about 75 yards in front of me and kept looking for them again. About a half hour later four appeared right with me and stayed around me for about ten minutes as I continued to paddle. I was about a mile offshore but we regularly see them at the breakers and inside in the ICW and Sounds.

Happy Paddling,


yup–in the middle of a pod once
off the delaware coast maybe 300 yards. very, very cool.

dolphin paddle

– Last Updated: Jun-11-06 11:41 AM EST –

Guess this is cheating, but I've paddled around one of our pools at work with 3 young male dolphins. They really enjoyed chasing the boat around, and one seemed to be intent on testing my bracing skills by trying to capsizing me. He'd follow along and then would smack the boat with his flukes or rostrum. Fun stuff.

Don’t try to race them
They’ll win!

We had some join us in Florida. We tried to stay alongside them but could not. I’ve read they can cruise at 18 mph.

East Coast…

– Last Updated: Jun-11-06 7:24 PM EST –

Northern Dolphins are wary of humans. But west coast dolphins are not as shy. Kayaked at San Diego,and seen a few dolphin only a couple of yards from our boat. Seals ,Sea lions,and Sharks all seem less afraid of humans on the west coast. More exposure to humans there? However east coast whales are hams,and crave boat attention. I have been on several whale cruises,and all sorts of whales gather near a stopped tour boat.Had a fin back drag his front flipper along the boat hull,as if to high 5 everyone.Dolphins on the east coast will approach a tour boat but keep their distance.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Paddle w/them every time we go to SC…they travel up some of the tidal creeks and rivers at high tide to feed. We’ve had as many as 12-15 around us in all directions. Had eye contact w/one last year, checked us out, then I guess told his buddies we looked okay, then they were everywhere. Makes your heart pound to be up close and personal. No pics, it all happens too fast.

We’ve seen them “strand” on the beach and riverbanks, as well…the pod circles around a school of fish and then forces them to the side of the river or to the beach, the dolphins were all the way out of the water (3 or 4 of them, I don’t remember), on the beach, grabbing fish, while the birds were swooping down for their share (they know the routine, too). It was too cool, then the dolphins slip back into the water…don’t blink, it all happens so fast! They say this particular maneuver is found only in the SE part of the US (don’t know for sure).

Many Time, Many Places
I grew up with Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphins on the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. I even saw them 800 miles up the Amazon River.

But West Coast Dolphins are different. They are several different kinds here. There are Spinner Dolphins, and some that are really large and dark. Pretty cool, but not as friendly as East Coast Dolphins.

Sometimes there are schools of hundreds, even thousands, in Monterrey Bay.

But really? Aren’t they Porposes? I thought only the black and white ones up north were true Dolphins