NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Dolphin tour makes a splash right off of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Summer staycation ideas to help save money
Posted at 6:21 AM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 07:32:40-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There's a big party happening right off of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and the guests of honor are jumping for joy. Everyone else, about 100 or so people on a recent June morning, is simply along for the ride.

"We get a good mix," explains Casey Hassell, tour guide with Rudee Tours. "A lot of them are tourists, but we do get about 25 to 30 percent who are locals," he adds.

Our voyage is on the Rudee Rocket, described as a a 70-foot long, 18-foot wide Ocean Rocket. It's a fast-moving, splashy boat with a menacing face painted on its front. The ride is an hour long and comes with a guarantee.

"I would give it a 99.9% chance that we're gonna see plenty of dolphins." Hassell promises. In fact, Rudee Tours offers this deal: If you do not see dolphins during your trip, you ride again for free.

The trip begins at Rudee Inlet. The boat cruises all the way up to the lighthouse, offering a good view of the Cape Henry lighthouses and Fort Story. That's when the real fun begins. As soon as the boat stops, our featured guests make their splashy arrival. Within seconds of the boat stopping near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins begin to appear out of the water. Within a span of 10-15 minutes, our group easily had more than two dozen dolphin sightings. Sometimes in pairs, the dolphins jumped above the surface of the water, playing in the wake of our boat.

"You're on a boat all day, entertaining people, looking at dolphins, it's the best job down here," Hassell reflects.

One more thing. On the way back to the dock, you might get a little wet. OK, very wet. This is where the "rocket" gets its name, speeding through the waves and splashing just about everyone.

"I was hoping to see dolphins," said one excited tour member visiting from Ohio. "I was hoping to get a little bit wet, not drenched," she laughed.

If you're not up for the thrill ride, there are other slower trips available, too. But what fun is the beach if you don't get splashed?

"Oh, yes. You have to ride the rocket."