Dolphin watching tours in Istria have been among the most popular and most booked boat trips in Istria for the past five-six years.
Along the coast of Istria and now all of Croatia, various types of boat tours are offered with the aim of dolphin watching. The tours differ according to the number of participants, the duration and the range of food and drinks offered on board.
Below we describe the different boat tours to make it easier to choose the right one for you. At the end of the article there is also some interesting information about marine mammals in the Adriatic and the code of conduct for sightings.
Private Dolphin Watching Tours
A private dolphin tour for family or friends (usually up to 12 participants) offers numerous advantages compared to group tours. The smaller boats are faster than large excursion boats, the sightings of the marine mammals are often more intimate, the skippers interact with the group and there is often the option of including a swim stop in the tour.
Onboard catering is usually limited to non-alcoholic drinks included in the price, but you are always allowed to bring your own cool box with drinks and snacks. However, we also offer some longer private dolphin cruises with BBQ (grill) dinners.
On the downside, these tours should be booked about a week in advance during peak season. Bookings for tours with larger ships can also be booked in the high season (with a smaller number of participants) only 1-3 days in advance, in June and September it is often possible on the day of the trip. The probability of seeing dolphins is very high. Dogs are welcome on board at almost every dolphin watching tour.
Prices for Private Dolphin Watching Tours are All-inclusive
Prices for private dolphin tours will not increase or only slightly in 2023 compared to 2022. A 2-hour private dolphin tour without meals for up to 12 people with an average to good boat costs between €200 and €300. 4 hours with drinks and snacks and swimming stops cost between €400 and €500.
The indicated prices for the tours are all inclusive. Skipper, boat and fuel are included in the price. There are no additional costs. At least this applies to all private boat tours we offer.
Public Dolphin Watching Tours without Dinner
Dolphin watching tours without dinner (alcohol-free drinks in open containers are usually included in the price) on boats and ships with a maximum capacity of between 50 and 150 participants are a cheap and often fun alternative to a private dolphin tour. These uncomplicated tours take place every evening during the season and usually last about 2 hours. In the high season you have to reckon with maximum occupancy. You can bring drinks and snacks with you. There is a bar on some ships. Dogs are welcome on board.
Prices for Dolphin Watching Tours without Dinner
Dolphin tours without dinner with free open soft drinks cost between 25 and 35 € per person in 2023 (in the pre and post season we offer our tour from Fazana for 20 €). Prices for infants and teenagers vary. Children up to 4 years of age take part in our tours free of charge, children up to 14 years of age pay half price. Some tours have different age ranges and respective discounts.
Dolphin Watching Tours with Dinner on Board
Dolphin tours with dinner are currently only offered from the port of Pula and with ships with a capacity of 50 or more participants. The food is simple fish, meat or vegetarian/vegan dishes with a side dish and drinks. Some providers only serve drinks with food and have a bar on board. You can also bring provisions. The dolphin tours with dinner usually last 3 hours. Dogs are welcome on board.
Prices for Dolphin Watching Tours with dinner
Prices for dolphin watching with included dinner on board range from €34 to €50 per person. Children up to 4 years of age take part in our tours free of charge, children up to 14 years of age pay half price. Some tours have different age ranges and respective discounts.
General Information on Dolphin Watching Tours in Croatia
The excursions are wonderful for nature lovers and also for families with children. Experience has shown that the probability of seeing dolphins is over 90% along the west coast of Istria (Novigrad, Porec, Rovinj, Pula, Medulin)! Bottlenose dolphins and, seldomly, striped dolphins can be observed in the Adriatic Sea.
How many Dolphins are there in the Adriatic
In our posts published on the site in German we have often written about the protection of dolphins in the Adriatic Sea and the context of dolphin watching tours providing a living for former local local fishermen. Skippers and captains adhere to the code of conduct for dolphin sightings and there are fewer and fewer black sheep in this regard each season.
According to the German Foundation for Marine Protection, experts estimate the current total population of dolphins in the Adriatic at around 5,600 animals (Source). These are almost exclusively bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) or the “good dolphin” (dobri dupin – in Croatian).
This represents a multiplication of the population estimated 10-15 years ago. The dolphins often stay only 5 km from the coast as well. If you are lucky, you can also see them from the shore towards sunset.
The animals are not fed by tour operators in Croatia but can be seen in the wild! Swimming with dolphins is not offered anywhere in Croatia.
Some providers offer guarantees regarding sightings and you can participate again free of charge if it doesn’t fit right away. We do not support this overzealous practice.
A dolphin tour is meant to be fun and should be viewed as a dolphin safari, meaning a trip on the sea, enjoying the air, seagulls and other animals and a relaxing time culminating in the sighting of the fascinating Adriatic dolphins.
Safety on Boat Tours in Croatia
The safety of the participants in commercially offered tours is guaranteed on board. The captains/skippers meet all legal requirements, boats and ships are regularly and thoroughly checked and there is a sufficient number of life jackets (also for children) on board. If a tour has to be canceled due to bad weather (rain, wind, waves) there will be a new date or the money back.
When are Dolphin watching Tours offered?
The first dolphin watching tours start at Easter time, most others in June. The tours are offered until mid-October.