A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (2022)

Things to do / Highlights

A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (1)

Source:Photoby Wikimedia Commons userBeyond My Kenused under CC BY-SA 4.0

A popular tourist haunt, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the perfect spot to spend a fun-filled day with family and friends. Here’s a look at some things to do at this aquarium in Florida.

Say hello to Hollywood stars

Ricky is the pelican who played the role of Rufus in the movie Dolphin Tale and a wonder to watch. Meet Mandy, from Dolphin Tale 2. You can even espy Nicholas, an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin who is the only male dolphin at CMA. You can also watch the dolphin Winter swim without a tail, which she lost in an accident. However, that did not stop her from featuring both in Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. Rescued in 2005, she swims today with a prosthetic tail. You also get to greet Hope, who was rescued as a two-month calf and co-stars in Dolphin Tale 2.

Watch incredible water species

It is not only the Hollywood stars that you can see in CMA but also many magnificent unsung aquatic spectacles like Thelma and Louise, two nurse sharks, who will make the trip enjoyable. Also, seven green sea turtles, one loggerhead turtle, and three Kemps Ridley sea turtles will make children scream with joy as they spot them in the Turtle Cove or Turtle Bayou and Mavis Hideaway exhibits. CMA also houses colorful aquatic species like red grouper, white grunt, black sea bass, mangrove snapper, clownfish, crabs, common snook, pinfish, lookdown, otters, rays, and many others.

Visit Hollywood shooting spots

Visit the Winter Zone housing Winter and Hope which is the place where the Dolphin Tale movies were filmed. Going into the Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure will take you back in time to the filming days of Dolphin Tale, which resembles many of its scenes. There can be many images all around the place to bring back nostalgic memories of the film.

Become a dolphin trainer

By signing up for Dolphin Encounter, you can accompany CMA’s dolphin trainer. You can feed them and learn about how they get training to perform so well in the movies.

Let children join summer camps

If you are busy training the dolphins, enroll your children for a half-day of full-day summer camp. The CMA staff will bring the marine biological engineering skills of your children by exploring the aquatic animals there.

Explore CMA

The CMA administration and star hotels arrange a lot of activities inside and outside the aquarium to make the best of it. Find out how the caring CMA staff takes motherly care of the aquatic species. Find out what is happening behind the scenes like with the prosthetic tail for Winter to swim and act among others. Also, take a kayak or boat ride around the aquarium.

What to eat

Situated approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) from the world-famous Florida Beach, all the best cuisine worldwide is readily available near Clearwater Marine Aquarium. More than 53 fantastic restaurants are around it. Seafood is the first choice for many travelers as the delicious recipes are made from fresh fish caught from the Florida seas.

Island Way Grill

CMA visitors are offered various discounts and gifts from Island Way Grill, which is just across the road. Do not forget to have the CMA wristband with you to avail of the benefits, which include a collectible poster with each kid’s meal. The fresh food grilled at high temperatures from oak- and citrus-fired open-pit adds to the delicious smokiness. Apart from the fresh fish caught by their fishing boats venturing daily into the sea, the world’s finest oysters are flown from worldwide to make mouthwatering dishes.

Shark Bites Café

Another food joint to head to is Shark Bites Café. Enjoy discounted prices as you savor snacks and sip on refreshing tea or coffee. They also offer a range of ice creams with their unique snacks, including the ice-cold ones.

Travelers tips

A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (2)

Source:Photoby Wikimedia Commons userqwesy qwesyused under CC BY 3.0

Be mindful of visiting hours during the holiday season

Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, CMA is open all through the year. The regular timings are from 10am to 6pm, with extended hours until 8pm from February 14 to April 26. There is also a special admission from 4pm. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve days, CMA closes at 2pm and 4pm, respectively.

(Video) Why Everyone Should Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Entry free for toddlers

Since CMA is a rehabilitation center for aquatic species, children below two years get in free.

Save entry fee by booking tickets online

You can save 2 USD per ticket by booking online. The entry fees at the counter for adults is 26.95 USD, while for kids aged 3 to 12 it is 21.95 USD, and for those above 60, it is 24.95 USD. For visiting throughout the year free, you have to become a member by paying only 39 USD, and for seniors, it is only 35 USD, and for the whole family, it is 99 USD.

Is photography free?

To take an individual photo with Nicholas or Winter, it will cost you 49.99 USD and you have 5 minutes to the pose with these Hollywood stars. It is advisable to arrive 15 minutes before the CMA opens and book the photo program (on the first floor of the parking garage) to avoid disappointment.

Other activities' costs

You need to shell out 399 USD for becoming an animal care assistant for 3 hours and need to be above 10 years. The 45-minute long behind the scenes tour costs 17.99 USD for adults, 12.99 USD for kids, and 15.99 USD for seniors.

Visitor's guide

Before your trip to the CMA, it is advised that you download the visitor’s guide from their official website.

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How to get there

A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (13)

Source:Photoby Wikimedia Commons userqwesy qwesyused under CC BY 3.0

Florida’s Clearwater Beach is accessible from anywhere in the world by air, water, and road. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just five minutes’ drive or less than 20 minutes’ walk from the beach as it is only 2.2 km (1.4 mi) away.

By air

Tampa International Airport, ranking high in convenience and ease of travel in the US, makes coming to Clearwater Marine Aquarium possible from most cities. Another airport which is closer to the aquarium is the St. Pete – Clearwater International Airport. Tampa is 32 km (20 mi) away and St. Petersburg Airport is 20 km (12 mi) away from the aquarium.

There is no direct bus from TPA or Tampa Airport to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The best way to reach is to take a westbound bus to Memorial Causeway Boulevard to Island Way and St.Terminal Platform-A. Though it is tedious and takes more than 2 hours and 15 minutes, it costs only 7 USD.

By cab from TPA to CMA

The best but most expensive way from TPA to CMA is by a cab that takes less than half an hour and costs approximately 120 USD to 150 USD.

How to get tickets (from USD 35.95)

A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (14)

You can purchase tickets for Clearwater Marine Aquarium from its official website or websites that offer skip-the-line passes. You can also buy tickets at the CMA itself.

Clearwater: Eco-Certified Marine Aquarium General Admission


Clearwater Marine Aquarium information

A Guide To Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida - Updated 2022 (16)

Source:Photoby Wikimedia Commons userqwesy qwesyused under CC BY 3.0

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Address: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 33767

Opening hours: 10am – 6pm (daily)

Cost: 26.95 USD (adults); 24.95 (aged 60 above); 21.95 USD (aged 3 to 12); Free (aged 2 below)

(Video) Clearwater Marine Aquarium - Complete Tour

Official website: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Department of tourism: Visit Florida

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


How long does it take to go through the Clearwater Marine Aquarium? ›

How long does it take to go through the Clearwater Marine Aquarium? It took us just over one hour and our time slot was for an hour and a half. Normally though, on their website it says to allow 2-3 hours. It depends on how much you are wanting to do.

Is there a new dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium? ›

Clearwater Marine Aquarium welcomes new dolphin to her forever home. Izzy was rescued in June 2022 after years of illegal human interaction caused her health to decline, CMA says. CLEARWATER, Fla. — There's a new resident dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and her name is Izzy.

Which aquarium is better the Florida Aquarium or the Clearwater aquarium? ›

Overall, The Florida Aquarium ranks significantly higher than Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Florida Aquarium comes in at #2 in Tampa Bay Area with praise from 6 publications like Afar Magazine, Lonely Planet and Frommer's.

Does Abby Stone still work at Clearwater Marine Aquarium? ›

Abby Stone - Supervisor of Marine Mammal Programs - Clearwater Marine Aquarium | LinkedIn.

Can you swim with dolphins at the Clearwater aquarium? ›

No, not at the aquarium. You might be able to have a Dolphin encounter at their other site.

Can you walk from Clearwater aquarium to the beach? ›

It's walkable, about 10 to 15 minute walk depending on your pace. There is a sidewalk that parallels that highway and takes you right to the beach.

What time of day are dolphins most active in Florida? ›

Dolphins are most active at the crack of dawn, between 10 am and noon, and from 2 pm till dusk. A great pair of telephoto lenses or binoculars can be invaluable tools to spot dolphins easily.

Can you touch dolphins at Clearwater aquarium? ›

Admission is required and not included with this program. Only one person is permitted to touch the dolphin (age 5+). Jewelry cannot be worn and there are no exceptions. Reservations in advance are recommended.

Are there sharks in Clearwater aquarium? ›

Sharks. The aquarium is home to one fully-grown nurse shark, Thelma.

What is the number one aquarium in Florida? ›

Visit The Top 10 Best Aquariums In Florida
  • The Miami Seaquarium: GET SOME FACE TIME WITH DOLPHINS. ...
  • Sea Life Orlando Aquarium: EXPLORE THE OCEAN TUNNEL. ...
  • The Florida Aquarium: VISIT OVER 7,000 ANIMALS AND PLANT SPECIES. ...
21 Jul 2022

Does Clearwater aquarium have sea turtles? ›

Loggerhead sea turtles, a critically endangered species, make up a majority of the nests seen along the 21 miles of beach patrolled by the aquarium in northern and mid Pinellas. Biologists found 313 sea turtle nests, up from 281 last year and 222 in 2020.

Is hope the dolphin still at Clearwater aquarium? ›

According to the aquarium, Hope received bubble enrichment, plenty of fish and lots of love in celebration. Hope lives at the aquarium with other resident bottlenose dolphins PJ and Apollo.

Who actually saved Winter the dolphin? ›

Winter the dolphin died during treatment on Thursday. NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Winter touched millions of lives with her story but perhaps the one she touched the most was Jim Savage, the man who found her in the Mosquito Lagoon 16 years ago.

How much do Clearwater Marine Aquarium workers make? ›

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Salaries
Job TitleSalary
Guest Experience Associate salaries - 3 salaries reported$31,398/yr
Operations Associate salaries - 2 salaries reported$34,011/yr
Life Support Technician salaries - 2 salaries reported$39,663/yr
Guest Service Agent salaries - 2 salaries reported$31,477/yr
16 more rows

Are there sea lions in Clearwater Florida? ›

A three-acre lagoon, built from part of Henry Flagler's old railroad, was turned it into a natural home for fish, sea horses and lobsters. TOTS gets 100,000 visitors per year and 20,000 participate in the animal encounters of dolphins, sea lions, sharks and stingrays.

Are there sea turtles in Clearwater Beach? ›

Beaches in Clearwater and Pinellas County at large are potential nesting sites to loggerheads, green sea turtles, and the critically endangered Kemp's ridley. Residents and visitors are encouraged to follow these quick tips to protect sea turtles and their nests: Flatten sandcastles and fill in holes.

Does Clearwater aquarium have whales? ›

Guests are immersed into the undersea life of these amazing marine mammals at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Is there free shuttle at Clearwater Beach? ›

Florida Free Rides is a local transportation service that goes to Clearwater Beach, Island Estates, and Sand Key. floridafreerides.com (727) 424-5458 Monday – Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Can you bring food into Clearwater Marine Aquarium? ›

g. Engaging in any unsafe act or other act that may impede the operation of the Aquarium or any associated facility. h. Food or drinks are not permitted on the 2nd floor of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Are the beaches in Clearwater free? ›

Clearwater Beach's shoreline boasts white sand, turquoise water and proximity to downtown's hotels, restaurants and attractions, making it one of the area's most popular beaches to visit.

What is the best month to see dolphins in Florida? ›

When is the Best Time to See Dolphins in Florida? You may see the most dolphins from late May through perhaps early August. During that time, you're most likely to spot them between 10 a.m. and noon, and then from 2 p.m. till it gets dark.

What beach in Florida has the most dolphins? ›

Panama City Beach is the perfect place to swim with dolphins in Florida. Besides the abundance of wild dolphins in the area, Panama City is also home to marine parks with dolphins who are just as excited to see you, as you are to see them!

How do you see dolphins in Clearwater beach? ›

  1. Little Toot Dolphin Adventure at Clearwater Beach. 3,419. ...
  2. Mega Bite Dolphin Tour Boat in Clearwater Beach. By Mega Bite Dolphin Tour Boat. ...
  3. Clearwater Dolphin-Watching Tour. 284. ...
  4. Clearwater Beach Day Trip from Orlando with Dolphin Encounter Cruise. ...
  5. Happy Hour Dolphin Exploration Tour. ...
  6. Private Boating On Pontoon Clearwater Beach.

Can you swim in the ocean at Clearwater? ›

Yes, you can swim at our beaches, year 'round!

Should you push a dolphin back into the ocean? ›

DO NOT PUSH THE ANIMAL BACK INTO THE WATER. The dolphin stranded for a reason and needs help. Please be aware that when an animal strands, it may be sick. Therefore, please use every precaution to protect yourself from any infectious diseases.

Are there jellyfish in Clearwater Beach? ›

Clearwater beach patrols are warning visitors that Clearwater Beach is experiencing a resurgence in visits from jellyfish and stingrays in the shallow waters of its beaches. The Florida stingray season is from April through October.

Are the manatees still in Clearwater? ›

It can be said that in some of the areas listed above, such as the Crystal River and Homosassa River, some manatees are always present. Whereas in Clearwater, they are present year-round, as aforementioned.

Does Clearwater Beach have dolphins? ›

Come join us on a fun filled, narrated sightseeing tour of Clearwater's harbor. Enjoy a relaxing ride while you learn about our abundant wildlife, and view the area's dolphins in their natural environment.

What is the most visited aquarium in the US? ›

Shedd Aquarium is one of the most-visited aquariums in the US and one of the popular Chicago attractions. There are 32,500 marine creatures living here in countless aquatic habitats. Look for beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, sea otters, penguins, jellyfish and more in the Abbott Oceanarium.

What is the 3rd largest aquarium in the US? ›

3. Shedd Aquarium. The Shedd Aquarium is a large public aquarium in Chicago. This aquarium is known for its vast number of animals, over 32,000, and for the large collection of species, numbering over 1,500.

What is the most famous aquarium in the US? ›

Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

Largely regarded as one of the best aquariums in the U.S., Monterey Bay Aquarium is celebrated for its living kelp forest, home to wildlife like wolf eels and leopard sharks.

What is the number one ranked aquarium in the world? ›

1 – Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Japan

Get up-close encounters with some of the world's most fascinating underwater life as you pay a visit to this beautiful abode to marine life.

How long does it take to walk through The Florida Aquarium? ›

For adults, at least 2 hours. With kids under 12, maybe a bit longer but include a refreshment break. In part it would depend on how familiar you are with aquarium displays. For the first time visitor to any aquarium anywhere, 2 - 3 hours is reasonable.

Are there whales at The Florida Aquarium? ›


According to the aquarium's website, guests will come head-to-head with whales through educational multi-media exhibits, an undersea virtual reality experience, walk-through life-size whale gallery and an interactive kid's zone.

What month do sea turtles hatch in Florida? ›

The eggs incubate for about 60 days, depending on conditions, before hatching. Sea turtles hatch in the late summer and fall months in Florida. This means you might see a swarm of infant turtles fighting their way to the sea between August and October.

Does Clearwater aquarium have manatees? ›

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced a three-phased manatee survival plan in response to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) on the state's east coast.

What time of day can you see sea turtles in Florida? ›

The best time of year to see wild sea turtles in Florida is during the summer, during sea turtle nesting season. Sea turtle nesting season lasts from roughly May to September. What is this? The turtles generally nest at night, so be prepared for a late night walk on the beach!

Will Hope the dolphin ever be released? ›

It was ultimately determined that Hope did not make a good candidate for release because she had not learned the necessary survival skills.

Was Winter the Dolphin euthanized? ›

Winter's necropsy results revealed. Jordan Bowen reports. CLEARWATER, Fla. - Winter the Dolphin died from intestinal torsion, or a twisting of the intestines, according to veterinarians at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

What dolphin died at Clearwater? ›

CLEARWATER, Fla. — PJ, the eldest bottlenose dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, has died, aquarium officials announced Sunday. She was estimated to be about 51 years old.

What did they do with the body of Winter the dolphin? ›

January 13, 2022. Today, Winter the Dolphin made her return to the sea. Encased in a Himalayan sea salt urn, the ashes of Winter were released into the Gulf of Mexico by her animal care staff aboard the U.S. Coast Guard's 45-foot Response Boat.

What caused Winter the dolphins death? ›

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Winter, the beloved prosthetic-tailed dolphin who starred in 2011′s “Dolphin Tale” movie, died from twisted intestines, according to a preliminary necropsy report. The bottlenose dolphin died Thursday night at an aquarium in Clearwater, Florida.

How much do dolphin trainers make at Clearwater aquarium? ›

The estimated total pay for a Marine Mammal Trainer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium is $21 per hour.

Did Clearwater Marine Aquarium get a new dolphin? ›

CMA welcomes new dolphin

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is now to home to a dolphin named Izzy who was deemed unfit to live in the wild due to illegal human interaction. CLEARWATER, Fla.

How long is the Clearwater Beach Walk? ›

Clearwater Causeway is a 3.8 mile (8,500-step) route located near Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA. This route has an elevation gain of about 144.3 ft and is rated as easy.

Does Clearwater Marine Aquarium have sharks? ›

Shark Pass gives you a whole different view of our current resident nurse shark, Thelma. These bottom dwellers can grow to be 14 feet in length and can live up to 25 years or older. Look down into this large pool where our nurse shark and other local marine fish eat and swim.

Is the sand Real at Clearwater Beach? ›

Clearwater Beach's powdery white sand is part of what makes it one of America's Best Beaches. The sand actually comes from the Appalachian Mountains and is made of quartz rather than sea shells.

Why is Clearwater Beach famous? ›

Clearwater Beach is famous for its white sands and clear blue waters on the Gulf Coast. Both the beaches in Clearwater Beach and the sunset out at the pier make this part of Florida a must-see. There are numerous beach activities to enjoy on this barrier island, such as swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking.

What is the best time to see dolphins in Clearwater Florida? ›

Dolphins are most active at the crack of dawn, between 10 am and noon, and from 2 pm till dusk. A great pair of telephoto lenses or binoculars can be invaluable tools to spot dolphins easily.

Can I bring snacks to The Florida Aquarium? ›

FOOD AND WATER POLICY - Guests are not permitted to bring food into The Florida Aquarium for individual consumption, except food needed for medical purposes, food allergies or for infants, water in bottles. Exceptions must be pre-arranged by contacting guest services at (813) 273-4000.

Can you swim with sharks at The Florida Aquarium? ›

Come visit The Florida Aquarium to embark on an in-water reef adventure that takes you beneath the surface with a Dive with the Sharks program, an unforgettable family-friendly dive experience for certified divers ages 15 and older. A Shark Swim experience is also available for those 9 and older.

Can you bring a backpack into The Florida Aquarium? ›

Yes, you can bring backpacks. We brought them with packed lunches and drinks inside and ate there on the ship deck. Hope this helps.

Are there dolphins in Clearwater Bay? ›

Visitors can also explore Clearwater Bay and learn about the local dolphin population on the Dolphin and Wildlife Tour.


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