Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Swim with Dolphins Near Jacksonville Beach

If you’re like most people, you only get vacation time once a year. And you want that vacation time to be spent somewhere amazing doing something memorable. But how do you choose the right activities and destination?

Well, if you live in a cold climate and your vacation lands during winter break, then chances are you’ll choose someplace warm and tropical to visit. Well, there are a ton of those destinations to choose from. And for each, there are a plethora of activities to choose from as well.

How about we make things very easy for you. When it comes to visiting someplace sunny and warm, you simply can’t beat Florida. It’s right in our own back yard and it’s a pretty place with gorgeous weather. And, when it comes to family-fun activities, Florida has no shortage of those!

But let’s get even more specific: We think you and your family will have a wonderful time visiting Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and while there, swimming with dolphins!

Why Visit Jacksonville Beach?

If you’ve never been to Jacksonville Beach, you’re in for a wonderful surprise. Located along Florida’s “First Coast,” Jacksonville Beach is known for its vast stretches of pristine beach, a newly redesigned golf course, famous fishing pier and a ton of fun water activities for you and your family can enjoy. There are also a lot of delicious eateries and great shopping destinations if your idea of thrills is a seafood lunch followed by bargain hunting.

One of the things Jacksonville Beach is known for are the dolphins that swim and frolic just outside the surf life. Visitors and native residents are charmed almost daily to witness these creatures play. But it’s a bit hard to swim with them when they are out beyond the surf line. But we know someplace where you can easily and safely swim with dolphins, and that’s at Marineland in St. Augustine, just a short drive away.

Keep reading to learn about the wonderful dolphin swim programs. We’ll also give you some suggestions on accommodations and other activities you and your family may enjoy.

There is something for everyone here !

Dolphin Swim Programs Near Jacksonville Beach

What is it about dolphins that allows them to easily capture the hearts and imaginations of so many people? Is it their playfulness? Their acrobatic skills? Or maybe their high intelligence that makes us want to get close to them? Probably a combination of all of these traits.

I’ve had the opportunity (and privilege) to swim with dolphins St Augustine and interact with them, and I can tell you, they really are magical animals. If you think interacting with dogs and cats is a good time (and it is!), just WAIT until you get face-to-face with dolphins. They are incredibly smart – perhaps smarter than any person you know, and so funny. It’s like they are trying to make you laugh.

If you and your family want to experience the magic yourselves, then I encourage you to visit Marineland in St. Augustine. Just one hour south from Jacksonville Beach, the facility is easy to get to and makes the perfect daytrip.

Here are some of the programs you and your family can enjoy at the Marineland facility:


The Royal Swim Program

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Then you’ll want to book your slot now to experience the Royal Swim Program. This program begins with a brief orientation where you’ll learn all about dolphins and their wild habitat. You’ll learn how they hunt, communicate and what they eat in a typical day. You won’t BELIEVE how much they eat!

If you have any questions, you’ll be able to ask the trainer at the end of orientation. When all questions have been answered, it’s time to slip into the warm water and wait to meet your dolphin friends.

Talk about anticipation! Soon, you’ll see ripples forming on top of the water, then you’ll see some fins stick out of the water (that will get your heart racing even faster). And before you know it, a shiny, smiling dolphin head will pop up in front of your face. If you’re like most people, you will immediately start giggling!

Spend a little time getting acquainted with your new dolphin friends. You can hug and kiss them and receive flipper handshakes. But just when you thought you were already having fun, the REAL fun begins. Because before long you’ll be able to experience cool interactions with the dolphin like the foot push and amazing dorsal fin pull that will make you feel like you’re flying!
Who can participate in this program? People 8 years of age and older who are comfortable in the water and strong swimmers.

Book Your Royal Dolphin Swim

Swim Adventure

The Dolphin Swim Adventure is another exciting interactive program you and your family can enjoy. Like the Royal Swim program, this one also starts out with a brief education orientation, followed by a Q&A if there are any questions.
And like the Royal Swim program, you’ll also get a chance to hug and kiss the dolphins and get a dorsal fin pull and foot push. But what sets the Swim Adventure program apart is the fact that you’ll get to experience the unforgettable belly ride. The dolphins will lie on their back and you’ll get to lie on their stomach and hold onto their pectoral flippers as they swim around and around. It truly is an unforgettable experience.
Again, everyone in your party will need to be at least 8 years of age and a strong swimmer.
Now you may be wondering if there is a program for families with small children are for those people who can’t swim. The answer is yes, the Dolphin Encounter!

Book Your Dolphin Swim Adventure

Dolphin Encounter

The Dolphin Encounter program is for people of all ages and for those individuals who aren’t entirely comfortable in the water or aren’t strong swimmers.

The program takes place in shallow water and you will be standing on an underwater platform. You’ll still have a great time interacting with these animals.

Whichever program you choose, you can be sure you will have a magic-filled day you won’t soon forget!

Book Your Dolphin Encounter

Marineland – A Special Place

Marineland isn’t just a wildlife facility, it’s a rich part of Florida history. Not only has Marineland made significant contributions to marine science and conservatism, they, and their dolphins, have also appeared in many Hollywood films over the past 80 years.

This park has been around since 1938, so you could say these guys know what they’re doing! They quickly became known as the world’s very first oceanarium. While the facility was opened with the idea of providing Hollywood film-makers a place to shoot underwater footage for motion pictures, it quickly became a place where sea life was cared for and valued, and where people can learn about some of the world’s most amazing creatures.

Today, this modern 1.3 million-gallon facility continues to grow as a leader in marine conservation, animal care and community education.

While the dolphin interactive programs are some of the most popular, the facility also offers some other fun activities you may be interested in:

Paint with a Tortoise!

Tortoise Time is a half-hour interactive encounter where you’ll get to hang out with tortoises. Not only will you get to feed them, but also paint with them. This is a really cool program.

Aquarist for a Day!

If you’ve wondered what it would be like to train sea life, this is the program for you! You’ll get a behind the scenes look and be able to help trainers with feedings, cleaning and interacting with some of the more active animals in the facility like eels, rays and octopus.

Kayak & Boat EcoTours

Because they are committed to eco-education, Marineland offers this great program, in partnership with Ripple Effect EcoTours, and the University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. You’ll get to explore the Matanzas Inlet, one of the only natural inlets on the east coast of Florida, which collides with one of the most pristine, undeveloped streams in Florida, The Pellicer Creek.

You’ll see all sorts of wonderful flora and fauna in this beautiful coastal ecosystem all from the low-impact, unique perspective of a kayak!

Getting to Marineland

As I mentioned, Marineland is located in St. Augustine, Florida, just one hour south of Jacksonville Beach. It’s a very simple, straight shot to the facility on either I95 or A1A. You have a couple of choices on how to get there.

Rent a Car

If you are flying into Jacksonville airport, you could simply rent a car. Driving to the facility will be relatively easy, depending on time of day and how much traffic you experience.


If you don’t want to rent a car, you can always use an app like Uber or Lyft. Fares should be pretty reasonable, and if you have a large party and everyone chips in, it will be very affordable.


Accommodations in Jacksonville Beach

When it comes to comfortable and relaxing accommodations, Jacksonville Beach, Florida has no shortage of options. Here are a few we recommend.

City of Jacksonville and the Beaches, Florida

Hotel Jacksonville

Hampton Inn Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Beach

Newly renovated in 2019! If you’re an avid golfer, you may be interested in knowing this hotel is just four miles away from the TPC Sawgrass Golf Course, which has been played by many golf legends. This hotel is a mid-priced option that offers comfortable and spacious guest rooms. There is a business center should you require it and high-speed wifi access through the facility.

1220 Marsh Landing Pkwy
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 280-9101

Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront

This hotel is a bit pricier but the stunning ocean views from guestroom balconies are totally worth it! Rooms are spacious and comfortable. There are a few dining options on site that offer American cuisine. The lobby bar has an expert mixologists that creates handcrafted cocktails (yum). They also serve craft beers and premium wines. There is also a fitness center where you can work off all of the extra calories we tend to eat while on vacation. Am I right?

11 1st St North
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 435-3535

Americas Best Value Inn – Ocean Inn

For those on a tight budget, there is Americas Best Value Inn, which can usually be booked for less than $100. Plus, this hotel is in St. Augustine Beach, so if you plan on spending more than one day at the Marineland facility, this may be a good option for your family.

Guestrooms are clean and comfortable, and all come with a flatscreen TV, a refrigerator, air conditioning and free wifi. The hotel has 24-hour front desk service and a sun terrace, as well as a pool and free breakfast. Parking is also free for guests. All in all, this is a great option for those who are just looking for clean rooms and a free breakfast.

Things to Do in and Around Jacksonville Beach

Well, we highly recommend that you put “Swimming with dolphins” on the top of your activities list! But, we would be remiss if we did not share a few other fantastic activities for you and your family to enjoy in the Jacksonville Beach area.

adventure landing

Play on the Beach

Let’s start with the most obvious. Jacksonville Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in all of Florida, so why not take full advantage of it? What’s great about this particular beach is that there are long, flat areas near the shore where the sand is hard and compacted. This makes it incredibly easy to ride bikes, which is nice to do at sunset. The surf is also great here so if you surf, you’ll be thrilled. If not you’ll have a lot of fun with a boogey board. And the beach is never really crowded, the water is warm and there is no seaweed!

You’ll definitely want to plan on spending at least one day at the beach.

Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach

Traveling with kids? Do they often get bored? Right on the beach is a terrific entertainment center. In fact, it’s the largest Family Entertainment Center in northeast Florida. It offers fun for people of all ages. Here are some of the activities they offer:

  • Adventure Speedway Go-Karts
  • Adventure Golf – two 18-hole miniature golf courses
  • Laser Tag in a Multi-Level Arena
  • A monster Video and Redemption Gaming Arcade
  • The Wacky Worm Roller Coaster
  • Frog Hopper
  • Max Flight Coaster Simulator
  • Batting Cages with varied skill levels
  • On-site food services and catering
  • Two themed Snack Bars

That should keep the kids busy for a few hours!

1944 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-4386

Cradle Creek Preserve

This is a special place and definitely worth checking out. There is a system of nature trails to explore and elevated boardwalks that give you a great viewing area of the flora and fauna in the area. Speaking of, you may have a chance to see animals such as bobcats, armadillos, racoons, white-tailed deer, rabbits, manatees, storks, Great Egrets, blue herons and many more.

900 S 15th Street
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 247-6100

Local Information

Great Weather in Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Jacksonville Beach


This isn’t your first vacation you’ve ever tried to plan. You know the routine: you search the Farmer’s almanac and look at weather patterns to determine what the weather will be like when you’re on vacation. The last thing you want is to be stuck in your hotel room with three children under the age of 14 with nothing to do because it’s raining!

Florida isn’t called the sunshine state for nothing. The sun shines nearly year-round. Having said that, there are some months that are best to be avoided. Summers in Florida are typically hot and humid, which does not feel too pleasant. And we can’t talk about Florida weather without mentioning hurricane season, which is between June and October, with the peak being August and September.

That being said, winter and spring are great times to visit Jacksonville Beach. The weather is mild, generally staying in the low to mid 70s during the day and dipping down into the 50s at night.

Festivals & More!

There is always some kind of fun to be had in Jacksonville Beach. From sporting events to festivals, concerts and outdoor festivities, there is always something going on. You can visit this link to view some of the activities that may be going on when you visit.

Helpful Travel Links

Jacksonville Beach Chamber of Commerce

Airports Near Jacksonville Beach

If you and your family will be headed to Jacksonville Beach, Florida to spend your vacation this year, you’ll have a lot of great activities to partake in. Just be sure to put some time aside so you can visit the magical Marineland and swim with the dolphins.

Hotel Suggetions


The Keys


St Augustine Beach

Panama City Beach

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