The Texan resort town of South Padre Island is located at the southern end of a long barrier island that stretches along the Gulf of Mexico. With the large border city of Brownsville nearby, day trips to the resort are increasingly common. The South Padre Birding and Nature Center is an excellent facility established in homage to the area’s natural beauty. Numerous boat tours also make the most of the abundant marine life that can be found near the shoreline of South Padre Island, with dolphin-spotting cruises one of the most popular options.
Tours from South Padre Island are generally among some of the best value opportunities to see dolphins in their native environment anywhere in the United States. A couple of excellent companies offer boat tours in these parts. Of them, we have selected three of the best dolphin tours available, basing our selection on many factors, including the duration, health and safety precautions, previous guest reviews and, most importantly, your chances of seeing dolphins.
FROM $13/per person
You can pack a lot into a 90-minute boat tour from South Padre Island. This excellent guided eco-tour will head out onto the Atlantic, looking for bottlenose dolphins, as well as other sealife in the region, such as rays. Keep an eye on the skies too for migratory birds and the local species like pelicans, which dive bomb the water in search of fish. You will also get the chance to pass by Boca Chica, where SpaceX has a launchpad close to the beach. Not the ideal eco-friendly situation, but still an interesting contrast to the natural beauty on show.
From $15/ per person
With a local skipper at the helm, this fantastic two-hour eco-cruise heads to all of the best spots where dolphins are known to cavort. Both bottlenose and the acrobatic spinner dolphin are possible sightings during this boat trip from South Padre Island. Various seabirds and turtles may also be seen during the journey. The boat’s crew also use a safe catch and release system that allows you to get a closer view of some marine species before they are returned to the sea. This tour runs once daily, usually in the late morning.
From $18/ per person
If the marine and bird life is not enough natural beauty for you, then you can take a boat tour at sunset as well. While the amount of time you’ll have to make clear sightings of the dolphins will be slightly reduced, spotting dolphins breaching the surface of the ocean as it’s painted orange by the sinking sun makes for an extremely memorable experience. This tour runs daily and usually lasts for around 90 minutes.