How can you spot dolphins in the Myrtle Beach area? Tips, tricks and when to find them

Jay Reeves/AP

Myrtle Beach waters are a perfect hang out spot for tourists and residents, including our local bottlenose dolphins.

Dolphins can be seen consistently throughout the year in and around the Myrtle Beach coast, according to dive instructor and naturist Chelsea Richardson.

Richardson has been working at Express Watersports, a tourist attraction in Murrells Inlet for nine years, and has been working in marine science for about 16 years.

Here are a few tips and insights from Richardson.

How do you spot dolphins in the Myrtle Beach area?

You can see dolphins about 80-90% of the time on a dolphin sightseeing tour.

According to Richardson, the best time to go earlier in the day to see dolphins, because the ocean waves will be calmer. But they are always swimming around, so dolphin tours can range throughout the day.

You can’t get too close to dolphins, however. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires you to be 50 yards away from them. Richardson said that at that distance, you can still see them pretty clearly.

No gear is necessary, although Richardson recommends preparing for seasickness due to the Atlantic Ocean waves.

“It doesn’t hurt to take some some seasickness medication as a precaution,” Richardson said.

What type of dolphins will you see off Myrtle Beach?

Richardson said that bottlenose dolphins are the most common dolphins you can see when you go offshore. Spotted dolphins can also be seen when you go further out, such as for a scuba diving class.

Bottlenose dolphins are found all over the world in warm waters. They can live in shallow water or in deep water, according to National Geographic.

Can you see whales off the Myrtle Beach coast?

The short answer is no. According to Richardson, whales are incredibly uncommon due to the shallow waters here. However, everything is possible when it comes to the ocean. In December 2021, a North Carolina woman spotted a young humpback whale in North Myrtle Beach.

If you do see a whale, it’ll likely be in the wintertime, where temperatures are more favorable for them.

“We do occasionally see sea turtles and sharks as well,” Richardson said. “So the whales aren’t necessarily common, but you can always see something else out there. I mean, the oceans are unpredictable. The animals do what they want, when they want wherever they want to do it.”