Snorkeling Tour in Vieques - Swimming with Dolphins
That one time we swam with dolphins was epic. I know that this is no big deal for travelers who spend time in Hawaii swimming with dolphins or for those who frequently visit aquariums, but we normally don’t encounter them around Vieques while snorkeling. Dolphins are extremely rare here in Vieques. To have the experience of being so close that we could have even touched them if we wanted to, even more rare.
Juancho and one of the 3 curious dolphins. This is the moment when the dolphin is curious about his toes, read ahead.
March of 2022, we were leading a Boat Charter and we went to the West side of the island because ocean conditions were awful on both the North and South side. The ocean was choppy and visibility was pretty much close to zero percent on the South, which is where we usually lead our Boat Charter. Therefore, that day we decided to head West since usually that side of the island is a lot calmer. We get there, we jump off the boat with our guests and start swimming toward the reef. Unfortunately, visibility wasn’t so great there either and we weren’t able to see much but a few fish and vaguely some corals. We made the call to go back to the boat so that we could get to the beach hopping portion of the trip instead since snorkeling conditions weren't as clear as we are usually spoiled with.
As anyone who spends a lot of time in the ocean can tell you, each visit to the reef may be different from the previous. Snorkeling in Vieques is simply an activity that is hard to get tired of. Some days there can be over 10 sea turtles, other days there are many southern stingrays, some swimming, others hiding under the sand. From time to time, our friend Angela, the spotted eagleray may make an appearance. Each animal with their distinctive personalities and we love to point them out as we see them.
A question we are often asked is if there are dolphins where we go snorkeling, and the answer cannot be a blunt no because there is a chance, however, the chances are very low. I can’t give you a reason why they don’t usually hang out near shore, but Juancho and myself sure were lucky to have this experience with three dolphins, to be specific, and it was amazing.
The moment the three dolphins got to us.
So after we got back on the boat, we started talking about the few things we were able to see. Our guests were happy and they were all having a great time, happy to be in the ocean on the boat with their family. Marie, one of our guests, says casually, “oh look, I just saw a dolphin.” And in disbelief, I tell her that it was probably a stingray, there are no dolphins here. “I know a dolphin when I see one”, she insisted. Marie was correct. The dolphin swam in front of the other company’s boat. It seemed to be playing with the rope that holds their boat's anchor.
The other company, where the dolphins first made an appearance, had over 20 people in the water. They all started swimming fast toward the dolphins the moment their guide pointed them out. That’s when I thought, okay, they might scare them off and the dolphins might come to us, which would be perfect because we were talking about jumping in the water to swim toward them, near the other company. The other option that the dolphins could have taken was to swim away from all boats, they could have left from the entire site. However, what I thought and hoped would happen did, they scared them off and the 3 dolphins swam away from the big crowd and swam straight to our boat. Juancho and I jumped in the water when we saw them coming, he thought we wouldn't have time to put on his flippers, so we jumped back in the water and a few moments after, they reached up to where we were.
They would swim around us and under us, simply checking us out.
I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t scared. They swam right in front of Juancho and I as I squeezed his hand. Just a few moments after, I started feeling more at ease when they didn’t seem dangerous, they were simply curious. The dolphins swam under us, they swam around us and the moment I will never forget is when one of them got extremely close to Juancho. The dolphin seemed as if it was curious of what those things on his feet were, his toes. Everyone else was wearing flippers except Juancho, he didn’t have time to put his flippers on.
Dolphin: Ooh, what are those?
The curious dolphin looks at him, straight in the face, see the first photo, then looks down to his toes, hovers down to take a closer look, then swims under all of us.
We sure hope to have more moments like this in the future, however, we are aware how lucky we are for experiencing such a unique experience with wild dolphins in Vieques.
To give you an idea of how rare dolphins are in Vieques, we saw and swam with them for the first time in March of 2022 and then saw them again, unsure if it were the same three, during a Fishing Charter in January 2023. There were 3 of them, like the day we swam with them.
To some, seeing dolphins in the ocean symbolizes protection as well as good luck. Whichever spiritual meaning you want to give to this experience, both times have been beautiful and unforgettable to both our guests and our crew. When you join a snorkeling tour with Salty Spirit, you get to join an epic adventure, whether we spot sea turtles, stingrays, or on rare occasions, dolphins, you can be sure it will always be an educational and fun experience. To book a tour with us, click here.