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How to Swim with Dolphins In Puerto Vallarta Ethically [2023]

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Want to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta? Please read this first! I live in Puerto Vallarta and adore swimming with dolphins, but there is a right and wrong way to do this. In this post, I’m sharing why you should avoid swimming with captive dolphins and what to do instead.

Seeing dolphins in Puerto Vallarta is one of the best things to do here, and some places allow you to swim with captive dolphins.

While I completely understand the appeal of swimming with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, the truth is that these captive dolphin encounters are very unethical. Here’s why you shouldn’t swim with the captive dolphins in Puerto Vallarta and what to do instead.

swimming with wild dolphins in puerto vallarta mexico



✅ Swim with a pod of resident bottlenose dolphins

✅ Listen to the dolphins with the hydrophone on board

✅ Participate in a conservation project

Why you shouldn’t swim with the captive dolphins in Puerto Vallarta

Walking around Puerto Vallarta, you’ll see signs and tour operators advertising dolphin swims (places like dolphin discovery and dolphin adventure). They often offer it at water parks in Puerto Vallarta.

While it may seem like a fun activity to do on your vacation, once you realize the negative consequences for the dolphins, you’ll want to reconsider partaking.

dolphin jumping out of the pool in a captive environment

It’s cruel for the dolphins.

The dolphins you swim with are kept in captivity, often in cruel conditions that cause terrible side effects.

In the wild, dolphins might travel hundreds of miles a day. But in captivity, they are confined to tanks that are 200,000 times smaller than their natural range. Not only is this uncomfortable and stressful, but it can be harmful.

For example, dolphins often escape hot weather by swimming in deeper, cooler water to escape the heat, which they cannot do in these environments. This may result in them getting blisters from too much sun exposure.

The pools they are kept in are often heavily chlorinated tanks, exposing the dolphins to harmful conditions that can damage their eyes and skin.

In the wild, dolphins swim, forage and reproduce young. A dolphin’s life in the wild is incredible, but they are forced to do tricks for dead fish in captivity. It’s no wonder they become so aggressive!

captive dolphin doing tricks

It supports captive breeding.

Tour operators will keep breeding dolphins in captivity if people keep paying to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta or see them perform.

Every ticket bought directly supports the continuation of captive breeding programs, which essentially means that dolphins are forcibly impregnated. This puts the mother and calf at risk of dying due to birthing complications.

Even worse, these programs often forcibly take the young from their mother soon after birth to start training them, but in the wild, dolphin calves stay with their mom for up to six years.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly traumatic for both the mother and calf (as well as the trainers who were forced to do this – many have quit after doing this).

two dolphins swimming in the ocean in puerto vallarta mexico

It can be dangerous for you.

It’s not just the dolphins in danger either – you are too. There have been multiple incidents of people swimming with dolphins who have been bit, hit by tails, and even pulled under the water by frustrated dolphins.

These animals are still wild, and they’re being forced to interact with people all day in exchange for being fed, which can lead to aggression.

A sample disclaimer from SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove states in part:

“You are agreeing to let your minor child engage in a potentially dangerous activity. You are agreeing that, even if the released parties use reasonable care in providing this activity, there is a chance your child may be seriously injured or killed by participating in this activity because there are certain dangers inherent in the activity which cannot be avoided or eliminated.”

Don’t believe lies about these animals being domesticated – that process takes thousands of years. These animals have been taken out of the wild.

Many tour operators will tell you that the dolphins enjoy performing, but the truth is they are only doing this because they have been trained too for food.

Yes, dolphins are naturally curious animals, but this doesn’t mean they want to perform tricks for you all day.

By the way, dolphins aren’t smiling. It’s just the shape of their face.

How to ethically swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Hopefully, this information could help you understand why swimming with captive dolphins is cruel.

Puerto Vallarta offers the extraordinary opportunity to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s one of the best wildlife experiences here! Here’s why it’s the better option:

  1. Natural Interaction: Swimming with wild dolphins creates a more authentic and respectful encounter. You’ll experience them in their true element.
  2. Sustainable Tours: Many local operators provide responsible and guided tours. These excursions respect the dolphins’ space and local ecosystems.
  3. Educational Experience: By choosing a sustainable tour, you contribute to local conservation efforts. Many tours provide insights into dolphin behavior, their importance to the ecosystem, and how to protect them.

Wildlife Connection Puerto Vallarta

swimming with wild dolphins in puerto vallarta mexico
Book a wild dolphin swimming tour here

Wildlife Connections offers a fantastic tour where you can swim with free WILD dolphins in the stunning Banderas Bay.

On this tour, you’ll visit a resident bottlenose dolphin group (sometimes spotted dolphins are found here). They have a hydrophone on board, allowing you to hear how the dolphins communicate.

Depending on the dolphin’s activity and mood, you’ll have a good chance to swim with them. But, of course, they are wild, so this all depends on them!

“Our guide Pilar was amazing, knowledgeable and friendly. We saw lots of dolphins from the boat and in swimming, will never forget this experience. Highly recommend this tour.”- read more reviews here

Since a research organization runs this tour, you’ll learn about their important work and even participate in their conservation research.

They have a money-back guarantee if they can’t find the dolphins, so what’s to lose?

Dolphin watching tours in Puerto Vallarta

The best way to interact with dolphins is to watch them from shore, where you can be sure that you’re not causing them any harm.

But if you want a closer look, choose a dolphin tour operator that follows a responsible code of conduct.

This tour with wildlife connections takes you to see dolphins and whales while participating in a research project that helps them understand and protect the dolphins in Mexico. It’s one of the best whale-watching tours in Puerto Vallarta!

humpback whale tail coming out of the pacific ocean in puerto vallartab mexico

The guides are specialists in cetaceans, biologists, and professional wildlife photographers who will share their knowledge with you, making this excursion a unique experience where you can get some pretty cool information about the marine life around Puerto Vallarta.

You might see bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, and maybe even orcas on the tour. If you’re visiting during whale watching season (December to March), you’ll also see humpback whales – and maybe orcas if you’re fortunate!

FAQ: Dolphins in Puerto Vallarta

Are there dolphins in Puerto Vallarta?

Absolutely! Dolphins are commonly found in the waters surrounding Puerto Vallarta.

What kind of dolphins are in Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is home to several dolphin species, including the bottlenose dolphin, the spotted dolphin, and the rare sighting of the false killer whale.

When can you see dolphins in Puerto Vallarta?

Dolphins can be spotted in the waters around Puerto Vallarta year-round! December to April is an excellent time to go, as this coincides with the whale-watching season.

Can you swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Yes, you can swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta in the ocean, providing an ethical and authentic experience.

Can you swim with whale sharks in Puerto Vallarta?

No, whale sharks are not commonly seen around Puerto Vallarta. But you can find them in other places in Mexico, such as Baja California.

Can I see sea turtles in Puerto Vallarta?

Absolutely! Puerto Vallarta offers opportunities to observe sea turtles, especially during the nesting season.

Are there crocodiles in the water in Puerto Vallarta?

Crocodiles are in some freshwater areas near Puerto Vallarta but not in the main tourist beaches.

What months are whales in Puerto Vallarta?

Whales are typically spotted in Puerto Vallarta between December and March during their migration season.

Final thoughts: Swim with dolphins Puerto Vallarta

Swimming with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta can be a life-changing experience. By interacting with them in the ocean rather than in captivity, we show respect and understanding for these intelligent beings.

Remember to do your research and opt for tours like this one that prioritizes the well-being of the dolphins. By doing so, you’ll create beautiful memories and support a more ethical way to engage with one of nature’s most remarkable creatures.

Planning a trip? Check out these other fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

photo of dolphin jumping out of a pool with overlay text that reads why you should't swim with dolphins mexico
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  • Lora Pope

    Lora Pope is a travel content creator who’s been wandering solo for over a decade. In 2021, she moved to Puerto Vallarta and fell in love at first sight. After visiting 70+ countries, she decided to make it her base and now helps travelers like you make the most of your time in PV.

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  1. Sincere says:

    Vallarta Adventures have dolphins that has bruises on them. When I asked how they get those bruises, they said from the guess. Get this company to stop doing swimming with the dolphins. They also get The Tour Agency to help them make money by booking guess to swim at there property with dolphins. There contact phone number is 322 22 64000 ext 51127. Representative is Rafael