Surfing with Dolphins in Tampa Bay
By Kai Rambow
For Ophelia Blumer
Surfing with dolphins is an unforgettable adventure. Okay, the dolphins will be the surfers. Your thrills will come from watching these highly intelligent, athletic and beautiful animals ride the wake of a high-speed boat.
The Dolphin Racer specializes in cruising Tampa Bay, locating dolphins and getting them to ride the wake. This is not as easy as it sounds. Dolphins don’t automatically ride the wake of a boat.
Dolphins will surf it if they feel like it, want to play and/or you’re heading in the direction they want to go. When riding the wake, dolphins may have different objectives. Sometimes, like us, they’re just having fun. When you see them propel themselves out of water and land on their sides, they are shedding dead skin. And sometimes, they’re using the wake to get from one place to another with less effort.
While surfing with dolphins is the highlight of this trip, the rest is enjoyable as well. You’ll travel through scenic waterways and you’ll enjoy racing across the water when the speedboat is on open water.
To turn your adventure into an extended event, consider eating out. Shells is a casual, seafood restaurant chain with reasonable prices, which used to be in multiple locations. In 2008, many of us thought they went out of business. Two original restaurants remained open and Shells is now expanding once again.
You’ll find the menu and prices familiar. Our party tried several different dishes and all were good. The recommended location is right around the corner from the Dolphin Racer.
Tips for a Great Visit:
Weather: There is no cover on the boat. Since you’ll most likely head out on a sunny day, be sure to use sunscreen, take a hat you can secure with a chin strap and wear sunglasses.
While you’re looking for a nice day, pay closer attention to the marine forecast. Check it 24 hours before. If there are going to be sizeable waves or winds over 10 mph, there will be considerable amount of saltwater spray. Some light protective rainwear might be helpful to avoid getting soaked should conditions change.
Suggested Itinerary: Leave around 11 a.m. for Shells to have lunch. After lunch, the Dolphin Racer is literally a three-minute drive away.
Tip: Departure time was 1:30 p.m. with a recommended arrival time of 1:15. Arriving a little before recommended time will enable you to find a parking spot, get checked in and line up by the rope.
Best Spot on Boat: If you wait by the rope at the entrance to the boat dock, you’ll be one of the first to board. If you want to be closest to the dolphins surfing, head to the very back of the boat, last row. Note: Don’t put anything on the floor as some water will come in over the back, especially if the boat reverses.
Photography Tips: Experienced photographers will know they will need a high shutter speed to capture the dolphins surfing. If you have a point and shoot camera or are using your phone, your best bet will be to record using video mode. When the dolphins jump out of the water, they are only out of the water for a very brief moment.
Admission: Seniors $24.95; Children under 12 $14.95. Note: Dolphin surfing is guaranteed or your next trip is free.
Dolphin Racer Speedboat
3400 Pasadena Avenue South
Pasadena, FL 33707
7081 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706