As leaders in coastal and marine environmental conservation, research, and preservation, the Virginia Aquarium’s Sea Adventures bring the ocean to you. Since 1989, our boat trips have been staffed by knowledgeable marine educators engaging in responsible viewing practices, research, and conservation.
Our trips feature interpretation of the marine environment and animal behaviors, interactive and hands-on programming for children and adults, and the knowledge that you are helping protect and conserve these key species.
- All of our trips conveniently depart from the Virginia Aquarium’s private, on-site dock, located adjacent to the Bay & Ocean Pavilion parking lot.
- Programs include responsible observation and interpretation from expertly trained educators.
- A portion of all ticket sales support Virginia Aquarium conservation initiatives, including the rescue and rehabilitation efforts of the Stranding Response Team.
Whales & Wildlife Sea Adventures Boat Trips
With almost three decades of experience, a Whales & Wildlife Sea Adventure aboard the Atlantic Explorer is an opportunity to see the ocean’s most magnificent creatures as they visit our coastal waters, while our enthusiastic educators help bring the ocean to life with items to see and touch. Staff and volunteers trained by Aquarium experts share an amazing program built upon the Aquarium’s own scientific research and conservation efforts, and collect data related to whale and dolphin sightings during each trip which contributes to federal and regional management of marine mammal populations and environmental assessments.
This 2-2.5 hour trip in search of whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds brings you as close as possible to commonly observed species like acrobatic humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, critically endangered right whales, bottlenose dolphins, harbor porpoises, and harbor seals, as well as an immense variety of seabirds and waterfowl.
Schedule: Our full schedule begins December 26. Trips are subject to change due to boating conditions. Schedule may be adjusted dependent upon sightings.
|Sat & Sun||Dec. 3-4||2 p.m.|
Coming Soon! Regular Whale Watch Season
|Sat||10 am||2 p.m.|
|Sun||10 am||2 p.m.|
|Additional trips daily offered from December 26 - January 1 at 10AM & 2PM!|
Please review our Calendar of Events for trip availability and special trip offerings.
Call (757) 385-FISH (3474) to confirm trip status that may be impacted by wind & sea conditions.
Whales & Wildlife Ticket Prices
|Children ages 3 to 11||$24|
|Children under age 3||No Charge|
|Members receive||$2 off|
Dolphin Discoveries Sea Adventures Boat Trip
Join us this spring, summer, and fall on an unforgettable 90-minute excursion aboard the Atlantic Explorer in an exploration for Virginia’s most common and charismatic marine mammal, bottlenose dolphins!
Each trip offers close-up observations of our marine environment and its inhabitants. When resources allow, we use a hydrophone (an underwater microphone) to listen for dolphins and whales. Trained Aquarium educators provide discussions about incredible natural dolphin behaviors, and share what is being done to conserve and protect the species and its habitat. Brown pelicans, bald eagles, and other seabirds are frequently sighted, along with sea turtles.
Schedule: Trips will resume in March, and are subject to change due to boating conditions.
Ocean Collections Sea Adventures Boat Trips
Curious about what lives in our coastal ocean waters? Take a 75-minute cruise with Aquarium educators to collect a variety of local fish and invertebrates and observe them up close aboard the boat. The catch varies seasonally, and some of the exciting discoveries may include seahorses, stingrays, blue crabs, keyhole urchins, and jellies. During this hands-on trip, you’ll have the opportunity to help work the trawl net, collect plankton, examine animals the temporary touch pool, and release fish back into the ocean.
Space is limited because of the hands-on nature of this program, and advanced reservations are highly recommended.
Schedule: Trips will resume in June, and are subject to change due to boating conditions.
Trips take place on the Atlantic Explorer, a spacious and stable catamaran that boasts one of the most comfortable rides in Virginia Beach, and has been outfitted especially for conducting dolphin watching, whale watching, and other educational Sea Adventures. Experience spectacular views from outdoor covered decks, or from cushioned seats inside a climate-controlled cabin. Additional amenities to maximize your experience on board include a snack bar, ship store, indoor educational activity space, and modern restroom facilities.
The vessel is operated by experienced captains and crew employed by Rover Cruises. As safety is a priority on each trip, the Atlantic Explorer is equipped with state art of the navigation and communications equipment and is licensed and inspected by the United States Coast Guard annually.
In addition to following recommended responsible viewing guidelines, the Virginia Aquarium is also an active Whale SENSE participant. Whale SENSE is a voluntary education and recognition program for whale watching companies committed to responsible practices and whale conservation.
To ensure that space is available on the day and time you’d like to go, we do recommend purchasing your tickets in advance. You can do online, in person at the Aquarium’s Guest Services office, or by calling 757-385-FISH. Advanced sales may pick up their tickets at the Aquarium dock prior to the trip’s departure.