Pearl Escapes

Custom Search

Clearwater - The Sight – Dolphins – Caladesi Beach and Little Toot


Clearwater Beach is too shallow for sharks (hooray), so it’s a fabulous breeding ground for dolphins.  Very often dolphins will come right up to the Caladesi Island Ferry (which runs from Honeymoon Island) so I was disappointed when they were a no show.


Just as I was about to leave Caladesi Beach (so beautiful, but so hot) I took one look back across the water… and spotted a dorsal fin.  The next minute I was running out to the dolphins, camera in hand.  They stayed for a little, a few splashes, a few little jumps and I felt exhilarated, before turning, now completely baked and making my way back to the ferry and my car.  (It is so easy to get overheated and burned in Florida in August!)


After getting the tip from a Park Ranger to head up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and be quick about it, I was driving back to the mainland when I saw a group of people at the side of the road in the water, and unmistakeable fins.  A quick right, some slightly dodgy parking and I was once again wading out in the water to watch dolphins only a few metres away.  This time they were slower in their movements and I got to see their faces so close.  They stayed for a few minutes, playing with us sightseers before heading off in search of more fun.


But the best way to see dolphins in Clearwater this trip was Little Toot; a small tug boat that leaves from Pier 60 Marina.  Of all the activities and tours I tried (and most of them work for tips) this had the best commentary.  Even if dolphins are not sighted (in which case you get a free trip next time) the crew works hard to make sure every moment on the boat is fun, with information about the local wildlife, weather, development… everything.  But yes… we wanted to see dolphins and we got 'em.  Little Toot works because it is small; they find the dolphins and then back off, building up speed and a great little wake behind the boat that the dolphins can choose to come and play in… or not.


The first group we saw were not too busy feeding to pop up and say hello, but when the boat picked up speed it was clear they were more interested in the fish (and who can blame them).


I still had an incredible moment as one dolphin swam alongside the boat, maybe 5 feet below me, turning lazily on its back and I will always remember those long eyelashed eyes looking up at me as if it was about to wink.


The second group was a mother and baby, so the crew were extremely careful to keep a safe distance.  Even from this distance it was magical to see mother and baby together, and their taking an interest in us as if we were the wildlife and they the zoo-goers.  A few minutes later we picked up speed hoping that they might come and play.  The mum took the chance to show her baby how it's done.  Moments later they were jumping through the waves, playfully showing off their moves, it was the most breathtaking experience.  Even the crew were impressed and told us how, just a few weeks previously the mum had brought her baby out for the first time ever to show it how to play.


Most wonderful.



11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm and Sunset

(Sunset times vary with the season)

(727) 446-5503



Adults $21.49 plus tax

Child $14.48 plus tax

3 and under free

15% off on groups of 8 or more (paying passengers)


Visit website for coupon - $2.00 off adult fare


Located at the Clearwater Municipal Marina opposite Pier 60

Pearl's Blog

Email me at

(c) Pearl Howie 2013.  All rights reserved.