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snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater

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posts: 413
snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater


I have 2 questions:

1. We will be in Clearwater in early APril. I wondered if there is anywhere to snorkel or is the water too murky and cold in April. If not Clearwater, would it be better down toward Sanibel as far as warmth and clearity of water ?

2. We would also like to try a dolphin excursion. DO you have to go on these all day excursions to see the dolphins, or just a short trip. I see a few websites, but they only list a phone number, no details or if they even go out in April. COuld anyone suggest a good one around clearwater and I will contact them.

Thanks for all the help

Southwest Florida
posts: 197
reviews: 64
1. Re: snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater


April is prime dolphon season. The water warms up so they are more active and there usually are pups which have not lost their adult curiousity.

Figure water temp to be 70-75 of so. There is not much to see snorkling around clearwater - the water will be clear, but it's sandy. You'll find some shells and sand dollars just off-shore (especially at Honeymoon Island or Caladesi Island)but not much else. Further north in Tarpon Springs you can find scallop beds. The kids love chasing them with snorkels.

The big find in on Anna Maria Island. Off of Bradenton beach about 100 yards is a little know (outside of the area) underwater attraction. A 100 foot sunk molassas freighter called Regina. It's a great place to snorkel with coral and fish. It's a day by day thing, though - when the wind is blowing hard the visibility is poor. Best time is early morning (great breakfast place on the beach right by it) there is a dive shop across the street if you dive - they also have information on different parts fo the wreck.

Ft. Desoto park also has some OK snorkling, especially on the protected side.

For Dolphins - There are a number of dolphon cruises from Clearwater harbor and St. Johns Pass Madiera Beach. The Tarpn Springs siteseeing boat usually sees them as well, though it's not guarenteed.

Through Mote Marine Labs near Anna Maria, you can volunteer for a dolphin count. Basically you go out to different locations and count the pods of dolphins and they take pictures to try and identify individual members. It is a full day, however and you are expected to do "work". It is rewarding however. On Anna Maria there are a number of guides that can take to haunts that dolphons like or you can rent a boat and seek them yourself.

Please remember four things - it's illegal in florida to remove live marine life from the ocean without a permit/license. Never touch coral. Dolphins and Manatees are protected - it is illegal (and a heavy fine) to feed them or pester them in the wild. and lastly - have fun!

posts: 413
2. Re: snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater

THanks SO much for the detailed information. We will plan a day trip to Anna maria island. Sounds like fun, even if it is murky!

posts: 89
reviews: 26
3. Re: snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater

I think I can assist on the second part of your question. I have a couple of suggestions. We have stayed in the Madeira Beach area three times in the last six years (we travel as a family every other March Break). We rent a condo and stay right on the beach. This year we rented a motorboat from Buccaneer Rentals in Madeira Beach for two hours for $89 plus gas and tax. We were in the Inland Waterway as well as through John's Pass to the open Gulf. In that time we saw no less than 12 dolphins. It was fabulous! The kids had a great time watching the dolphins swim near the boat and frolick in the water. Previously we have taken the shell and dolphin tours offered through John's Pass and had success there too. Dolphins are plentiful and we saw them each day off the beach in the open water. John's Pass has them in bunches.

As for the snorkelling, I would not recommend it. The water is murkier and not like the rest of the Caribbean. I have snorkelled in Barbados and Antigua, and would not recommend Florida. Have a great trip. We had perfect weather, 80s and sunny every day with no rain. It could not have been better.

posts: 413
4. Re: snorkeling and dolphin excursions near clearwater

Thanks so much. The boat rental sounds like lots of fun. We will check it out!