When you visit Manuel Anotonio, Costa Rica, you will have plenty to do on land and sea. One of the popular water-based things to do is a dolphin tour. There are three or more companies that will take you out and other than they all have slightly different boats, I think they are very similar. We chose to do our dolphin watching with Planet Dolphin. As always, the staff was very kind and did a great job.
One quick tip about booking tours: Get to know your guides. This is a small place. Many guides do more than one tour and are happy to keep your business on another tour at a discount or refer you to a friend.
A dolphin tour is a great way to get out and see some of the coast, go for a swim, and likely see dolphins and other wildlife. But before you book your tour, consider getting a private fishing boat too. Personally, I am a huge fisherman and a bit biased toward doing that instead. Here’s why, when you fish you are actually actively looking for sea birds feeding on bait fish, near bait fish are the game fish, dolphins, etc… The difference between a dolphin tour and a fishing tour is that you can catch fish on fishing boat and take fresh meat home. A half day trip on a private fishing boat would be about $500. That is the cost of 4-5 people on a dolphin tour. So, if you have more than 4-5 people, a private fishing boat will be cheaper and you can almost always find a boat captain that is happy to just tool around if you don’t want to fish. You can still swim, tour the shore, etc… on a fishing boat. So consider that.
If you do want to do a dolphin tour, we were very happy with Planet Dolphin. They have a few boats and I believe the are all catamarans. Catamarans are an awesome way to cruise around. They have slides and are meant to be for entertaining, so it is a different experience than you would get on a fishing boat. Many people probably prefer this to a fishing boat and that is totally fine.
Our trip left the harbor in Quepos, Costa Rica and we cruised around the rocks off shore and around Manuel Antonio Park. The coast is amazing. It took about 10 minutes for us to find dolphins. Unfortunately, the dolphins had babies and didn’t want to get within 200 yards of us (You can’t blame Planet Dolphin for that.)
The cruise continued along the shoreline and went to a bay where we snorkeled. The snorkeling was ok. The highlight of this part was when the captain took the kids near some shallow rocks and they fed schools of Sergeant Majors. We also loved jumping off the roof of the catamaran and going down the slides.
While we were out, we saw some brown boobies and these other seabirds. You can see them dipping into the ocean eating fish while larger fish were literally jumping out of the water feeding on the same little fish.
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