Dolphins are protected under the ‌U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act‌, and swimming with these magnificent creatures in South Carolina's waters is prohibited by law. However, that doesn't mean you can't have a memorable dolphin experience and get close to wild dolphins in their natural habitat. South Carolina offers a range of dolphin watching tours that allow you to observe these incredible creatures while respecting their protection.

Hilton Head: Dolphin Discoveries

If you're looking for an unforgettable dolphin encounter, head to Dolphin Discoveries on Hilton Head Island. Their two-hour boat tour, limited to just six people at a time, ensures an intimate experience. Dolphin Discoveries guarantees dolphin sightings on every tour and even has affectionate nicknames for some of the friendlier dolphins in the area, such as Big Bob, Blackbeard, and Little Baby Stripes.

Sonny C. Charters: Broad Creek to Calibogue Sound

Sonny C. Charters offers a 90-minute dolphin and nature tour that takes you through the picturesque Broad Creek to Calibogue Sound. This area is known for its population of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to see them in their natural habitat. Additionally, Sonny C. Charters provides a special two-and-a-half-hour Dolphin, Fireworks, and Nature-Lover Cruise from June 13 to August 18 for a unique experience.

Dolphin Encounters Near Charleston: Folly Beach

Charleston Outdoor Adventures is your go-to for dolphin encounters near Charleston. They offer a 90-minute dolphin eco-tour or a sunset dolphin cruise, both highly recommended by National Geographic Magazine. These tours take you through the scenic waters surrounding Folly Beach, where you can witness dolphins playing and strand feeding. Charleston Outdoor Adventures also provides paddleboard and kayak tours for those seeking a different adventure on the water.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort: Creeks and Inlets

For an up-close view of dolphins near Kiawah Island, head to Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Their eco-tour boat takes you on a delightful ride through the creeks and inlets of Kiawah, where you can spot numerous dolphins living nearby. It's an excellent opportunity to appreciate these intelligent creatures in their natural environment.

Myrtle Beach: Crazy Sisters Marina and Thomas Outdoors Watersports

If you're in Myrtle Beach, head to Crazy Sisters Marina on Murrells Inlet to board the Osprey, Blue Wave Adventures' dolphin watch vessel. Operating seven days a week from March through November, the Osprey boasts an impressive overall dolphin contact rate of 85 percent, as estimated by Capt. Mark Collins & Amy Collins.

For an even closer encounter, book a Jet Ski excursion with Thomas Outdoors Watersports. This thrilling 40-mile round-trip adventure lasts approximately two hours, during which you'll get the chance to see dolphins up close, possibly even getting splashed by them. Thomas Outdoors Watersports also offers a private two-hour tour that includes a dolphin watch T-shirt as a memorable souvenir.

Edisto: Botany Bay Ecotours and Big Bay Creek

If you're visiting Edisto, Botany Bay Ecotours is the perfect choice for dolphin boat tours. From March 1 to October 31, they offer 75-minute tours, as well as private and special group tours. While dolphin sightings cannot be guaranteed, Botany Bay Ecotours guarantees that you'll learn fascinating facts about dolphins and the waters of the ACE (Ashepoo, Edisto, and Combahee Rivers) Basin.

For more dolphin sightings in Edisto, head to the marina on Big Bay Creek. The water near the marsh in this area is a popular spot for dolphins to hang out, and the best part is that you can observe these captivating creatures without spending a dime. Keep in mind that autumn is generally the ideal time to spot dolphins in this region.

Make the most of your South Carolina visit by embarking on these incredible dolphin watching tours. Whether you choose Hilton Head, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, or Edisto, you'll have the opportunity to witness wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat year-round. Remember to respect their protection and enjoy the wonders of these majestic creatures through responsible dolphin experiences.

(‌Note:‌ For snorkeling or dolphin swim experiences, please note that swimming with dolphins is prohibited by law to ensure their well-being and conservation. These tours mentioned above are focused on dolphin watching and observation.)