5 great spots to see dolphins in South Australia

You don’t need to be a pet detective like Ace Ventura to find dolphins in SA. Here’s where to go dolphin-watching.

South Australia’s marine parks are not only amazing places to see whales, sea lions and giant Australian cuttlefish, but also playful and fliptacular dolphins. 

SA’s waters are home to three dolphin species including the indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, common bottlenose dolphin and short-beaked common dolphin.

So pick a spot to visit, get your camera ready, start dolphin-watching, and fill your social media feed with these lively and very photogenic creatures.

Here’s five great spots where you can see them in SA:

1. Freeman’s knob – Fleurieu Peninsula

Just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide city is Port Elliot’s Freeman Knob, which is popular with a pod of local dolphins.

Visit the lookouts over Horseshoe Bay and Encounter Bay to take some great pictures.

2. Hog Bay – Kangaroo Island

Even though it’s a bit of a trek to visit Penneshaw’s Hog Bay from South Australia’s mainland, you’ll be rewarded with loads of dolphin activity. So be sure to pop it on your bucket list when you next visit Kangaroo Island.

There’s a pod of dolphins that cruise through Hog Bay every day. The perfect spot for dolphin-watching is from the rocks at the eastern end of the beach, near Frenchman’s Rock.

3. Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary – metropolitan north-west

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is located only 20 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD and is stationed along the Port River with about 40 resident dolphins, plus about 300 visiting dolphins.

There are lots of different ways to explore the river. Try the self-guided Port River Dolphin Trail or hop on a kayak or boat tour.  

4. Pondalowie Bay – Yorke Peninsula

Pondalowie Bay is located in Innes National Park, about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Adelaide city. 

The bay has a resident pod of about 30 dolphins. Venture to the board walk and viewing platform to watch dolphins riding the waves. They can reach swimming speeds of more than 30 kilometres an hour.

5. Coffin Bay – Eyre Peninsula

The pristine beaches of the Eyre Peninsula draw in not only tourists, but resident dolphins. A recent Flinders University study found that Coffin Bay has the highest density of local dolphins in the world.

You can watch the dolphins gliding around Coffin Bay in Thorny Passage Marine Park.

Keep our dolphins safe

Follow these on-water laws and rules to keep yourself and dolphins safe:

  • Swimmers, surfers and boogie boarders must not move within 30 metres of a dolphin.
  • Prescribed vessels like high-powered vehicles such as jet-skis must not move within 300m of a dolphin.
  • Other vessels like motorised vessels, sail boats, kayaks and wind-surfers must never move within 50m of a dolphin or within 150m of a dolphin calf.
  • If a dolphin approaches your boat and you are moving, maintain your current speed and direction. Dolphins often enjoy riding at the bow or in the wake of vessels.

There’s other ways you can be kind to our animal friends too, including:

Did you know that Adelaide’s Dolphin Sanctuary is home to more than just dolphins? Read our blog on what else you can discover

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