Truth be told, very few mammals are as equally cute, captivating, and majestic as an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Humans instinctively have a soft spot for these adorable and wildly intelligent underwater critters. Scientists assert that dolphins are quick learners, self-aware, able to problem-solve, and even have the rare ability to show empathy. Naturally, pods of bottlenoses frequent the aquatic acreage surrounding paradisical Hilton Head Island, home to Sunset Rentals, the region’s most experienced vacation rental management company. We have stark relationships with the area’s premier cruise-based outfits. Thus, our concierge team has compiled the three best Hilton Head dolphin tours, where spotting a grinning bottlenose is innate as an Atlantic Ocean sunrise.
The Best Hilton Head Dolphin Tours
Nearly a dozen local businesses offer 90-minute (or two-hour) Hilton Head dolphin tours, two of which are located in Shelter Cove Harbour. Prices are comparable across the board, so keep a close eye on each company’s various amenities. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a light jacket, and a camera, because dolphins absolutely love being photographed!
1 – Dolphin Seafari
Dolphin Seafari is home to the famous “Donuts and Dolphins” tour, where a bevy of colorfully-coated, deep-fried sweets are readily available for consumption throughout the trip. Complimentary coffee (or tea, water, or juice) is also served if you’re in the dunking mood. However, the main event is the legion of 200-plus bottlenose dolphins that circle the isle. The 30-foot-long covered pontoon sits low to the surface so that you can practically high-five a dolphin when the opportunity presents itself. A crab-trap demonstration always garners “Oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, especially amongst youngsters.
2 – Dolphin Discoveries Nature Tours
What sets Dolphin Discoveries apart from all of the other Hilton Head dolphin tours is its semi-exclusivity. Most expeditions host anywhere from 12 to 40 people. Dolphin Discoveries, however, seats six people, max. Thus, it’s perfect for families. Large groups, obviously, will have to go elsewhere. Each 105-minute voyage motors past pods of curious bottlenoses, as well as bald eagles, egrets, brown pelicans, and, occasionally, adorable river otters. Make sure to browse through their various trip options to find one that best suits your family. The tours can include anything from beachcombing to shark fishing.
3 – Captain Mark’s Dolphin Cruises
Pet owners, rejoice! Captain Mark’s is one of only dog-friendly Hilton Head dolphin tours, with expeditions starting at just $21.95 per person. Captain Mark has skippered over 20,000 cruises in the past 37 years, so he knows a thing or two about dolphin “honey holes.” He specifically leads groups to the serene, 13-mile Calibogue Sound, just south of the island. Lucky passengers will coast past a variety of architectural marvels, including plantations and a lighthouse.
Long-Term Rentals in Hilton Head
Start and finish each day in South Carolinian paradise with Sunset Rentals of Hilton Head. We boast one of the largest fleets of Hilton Head vacation rentals, including nearly 100 homes and over 170 villas. While each property is unique in size, location, and design, they share common luxuries, such as pool access, lavish furnishings, chef’s kitchens, and air conditioning. Some homes and units overlook the Atlantic Ocean, while others feature dazzling, private pools. All of them are within walking distance of the beach, so a full day of oceanic exploration is always a short stroll away.