Types of Dolphins in the Bay of Banderas

Discover the Types of Dolphins You Can Find in the Bay of Banderas

Are there dolphins in the Pacific ocean? Absolutely, and being able to interact with different types of dolphins can make for a truly memorable experience. 

Some of the most common types of dolphins can be found along the shores of Mexico. As playful as they are majestic to behold, being able to discover the natural beauty of these marine animals can be a highlight of any Mexico trip.

Common Types of Mexico Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is one of the most rewarding interactions people can have with nature. These intelligent, gentle and adorable sea mammals give kisses, rides and laughs to those who wade into their waters. While there are many species of dolphins, here are some of the most common you’ll see on trips to the Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

• AKA: Common Bottlenose Dolphin
• Length: 120-168in (3-4.3m)
• Weight: approx. 330-1,400 lbs (150-635kg)
• Where found: In coastal and continental shelf waters and in tropical and temperate zones around the globe.
• One of the friendliest species, bottlenose dolphins are known to team up with local fisherman to fish and approach small boats just to say hello.


Spinner dolphins

Stenella longirostris Orientalis

• AKA: Long snout, Rollover
• Length: 47-83in (1.2-2.13m)
• Weight: 45-75lbs (20-34kg)
• Where found: In tropical or warm temperate waters of Mexico, from Chiapas to Northern Sinaloa.
• Like Olympic high-divers, these dolphins like to jump and spin as many times as possible before hitting the water, sometimes achieving up to 7 full rotations in a single jump.


Killer Whale

Orcinus orca

• AKA: Orca, Wolves of the Sea
• Length: 192-312in (4.9-7.9m)
• Weight: 3,000-12,000lbs (1360-5440kg)
• Where Found: Coastal waters and open ocean from the Artic to Antarctica.
• These bus-size carnivores can swim up to 30 miles (48km) per hour and hunt with their families by herding fish into a bubble and then gobbling them up.


False Killer Whale

Pseudorca crassidens

• AKA: False Orca
• Length: 1156-228in (4-6m)
• Weight: 2,200-4850lbs (1,000-2,200kg)
• Where Found: Temperate and tropical open ocean waters worldwide, especially around islands.
• While different in size, shape and color, False Killer Whales are sometimes mistaken for Killer Whales when breeching. They are social creatures and do not shy away from boats.


Rough-Toothed Dolphin

Steno Bredanensis

• AKA: Slope head
• Length: 83-112in (2.1-2.8m)
• Weight: 200-340lbs (90-154kg)
• Where Found: Tropical and warm deep offshore waters around the globe.
• These dolphins have pointed, stream-lined faces with pale pink beaks that make them look reptilian. You may spot them swimming shoulder-to-shoulder with others of their species.


Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Stenella attenuata

• AKA: White Spotted Dolphin, Bridled Dolphin
• Length: 60-96in (1.7-2.4m)
• Weight: 200-255lbs (90-115kg)
• Where Found: Offshore and inshore in tropical and warm temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
• These dolphins can be found near schools of Yellowfin Tuna. They are energetic, fast swimmers who jump impressively out of the water and making huge splashes.

Other Types of Dolphins to Discover

Just how many species of dolphins are there?


The answer currently is 44, with the newest being discovered in 2014. Quite a few of these types of dolphins can be found in the Bay of Banderas. However, some, like the bottlenose dolphin, are more common to spot in Mexico’s waters, while others make for a rarer but just as special a treat to view. 

Here are some of the less common types of Mexico dolphins you may encounter:

Fraser’s Dolphin

Lagenodelphis hosei

  • AKA: Sarawak Dolphin

  • Length: 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m)

  • Weight: 350 - 460 lbs. (158.7-208.7 kgs)

  • Where Found: Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Indian oceans.

  • These dolphins rarely are seen inshore, as they prefer to stay in deeper waters. They are known to dive to depths of 1640 ft.

Risso’s Dolphin

Grampus griseus

  • AKA: Monk Dolphin

  • Length: 8-12 feet (2.4-3.7 meters)

  • Weight: 660-1,100 lbs (299-499 kgs)

  • Where Found: Pacific Ocean, California, Pacific Northwest

  • These types of dolphins rarely fully breach from the water. Adults will jump halfway only to slap their heads against the water.

Swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta

Dolphin Interaction

If you’ve wondered how many types of dolphins are there and how you can best interact with them, taking a trip to Mexico can provide you with the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Swimming with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, is one of the most popular activities when traveling with children. In fact, there are two dolphin programs that are perfect for spending a fun day with the family: Dolphin Signature Swim and Dolphin Extreme. Both include a fast boat trip across the bay to the spectacular Majahuitas beach, where you’ll enjoy a delicious buffet lunch, plus water activities such as paddle boarding and snorkeling.

Girls on paddle boards

The Dolphin Centers at Vallarta Adventures received the Humane Certification, which ensures that all the Pacific Bottlenose dolphins and Sea Lions under our care receive the best medical treatment, live in optimal conditions and their welfare is closely monitored. 

To learn more about the different types of dolphins in the Banderas Bay, visit Vallarta Adventures, where our marine specialists will answer all your questions as part of our educational dolphin programs.

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