Updated: Apr 4
All You Need to Know About the Hilton Head Mermaid Encounter Tour
Everyone wants a glimpse of the mystical creatures that dazzle people with their charm and beauty when they pop out of the water - mermaids!
Luckily, it's not only possible to see a mermaid but to talk to them too! Whether you're looking for an interactive kids activity or you're curious about seeing a mermaid for yourself, Hilton Head has you covered.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour.
What Is the Mermaid Encounter Tour?
The Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour, based on the book The Mermaid's Friends, is a magical experience that's fun for all ages (but especially for those 2-10 years old!).
On this boat tour in Hilton Head, SC, Pinky Plankton and Sailor Scruffy will take you and your family on a nautical adventure to find Mermaid Nina - a real-life mermaid!
The Hilton Head Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour is a local favorite, winning multiple awards for its engaging learning and family entertainment.
What Happens on the Tour?
After leaving the Hilton Harbor Marina, you'll embark on 75 minutes of family-friendly fun.
During the tour, you will find out all the best ways to protect a mermaid's precious home - the ocean. You'll also discover the story of how Mermaid Nina came to Hilton Head. After you've done all of your learning on the boat, you'll receive an Ocean Ambassador badge to show off to friends and family members.
The boat tour often gives you glimpses of dolphins, birds, and other local wildlife. And, you'll meet a real mermaid!
Mermaid Nina always recognizes the tour boat, and she'll swim right up to you to talk about her ocean home, her wildlife friends, and how you can help keep the ocean clean and safe. Plus, she'll take some time to answer any questions you have about mermaid life.
However, you'll also need to keep your eyes peeled for Professor AI G, Mermaid Nina's arch nemesis. He's known for trying to capture Mermaid Nina, and it'll be up to you to help save her by warning her and scaring away Professor AI G before it's too late!
If kids under the age of 12 are on the boat tour, they will need to wear one of the provided life vests. Plan to get to the marina at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time - if you arrive late, the boat won't wait!
It's a good idea to bring sunglasses, water, a camera, and cash with you on the tour. Snacks and drinks are also allowed.
What's the Story Behind the Tour Boat?
The tour boat that will take you to spot Mermaid Nina is called the Carolina Snowball, named after a local albino dolphin.
In 1962, this beautiful dolphin was captured because they believed she would make great money doing tricks as a show dolphin. While she tried her hardest to evade her captors, she was eventually caught and taken to Miami to draw in the crowds.
Even though the dolphin refused to learn the tricks, she was still incredibly popular. However, her life in captivity took its toll on her, and she died just several years later.
Her story captured many people's hearts and brought to light how destructive and unjust captivity is, inspiring a law that was passed in 1976 prohibiting cetaceans from being held captive and on display in South Carolina. And, of course, inspiring the name of this boat as well.
The Carolina Snowball tour boat is fully covered and able to hold 24 people. It has a restroom on board and cushioned seats so you can enjoy the entire ride in comfort.
How Do You Book a Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour?
Since the Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour is so popular, it tends to sell out quickly. If you and your family want to experience the boat tour, you'll need to purchase tickets and reserve your spot online. Showing up for the tour without reserving a specific time slot isn't possible.
To book a tour, take a look at the Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour schedule and find a date and time that's available through the online calendar. The available slots are updated in real-time, so you'll always see the most accurate availability.
Once you click on the date and time you're interested in, you'll be taken to a page where you can select the number of tickets you need (with different categories depending on the ages of those attending).
The cancelation policy requires that you give 24 hours' notice if you won't be able to make it in order to get a refund. If you need to cancel with less than a day's notice, you won't get your money back (unless you purchased boat tour insurance).
How Much Does the Tour Cost?
Adults and children under the age of 12 require a $48 ticket, while children ages 0-1 require a $10 ticket. If desired, you can book a private Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour starting at $975.
Plus, every time you book a tour, $1 is donated to a non-profit organization that works to promote ocean conservation and cleanup.
Beyond the regular Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour inclusions, you can also purchase add-ons.
The most essential add-on to consider is tour insurance, which gives you the ability to cancel your tour and get reimbursed (minus the insurance and booking fees) if something comes up and you can no longer make it, as long as you give at least 12 hours' notice.
Then there are the more fun add-ons, such as a Mermaid Nina Necklace that's just like the one Mermaid Nina herself wears ($19.95), a signed copy of The Mermaid's Friend ($17.99), or a Shark Tooth Experience where you get to pan for cool shark teeth once the tour is over ($12.95). If someone in your tour party is celebrating a birthday, you can add on a special birthday button and a birthday card signed by Mermaid Nina, Sammy the Sand Dollar, and Pinky Plankton ($14.95).
Experience the Magic of Meeting a Real-Life Mermaid
Real mermaid sightings is something everyone on the tour will remember forever. If you're interested in finding out more about the Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour, visit our page and book your tour tickets now!
And the magic doesn't have to end on the boat. Turn into a mermaid yourself with our Mermaid Experience options!