Photoacoustic (PA) imaging offers several attractive features as a biomedical imaging modality, including excellent spatial resolution and functional information such as tissue oxygenation. A key limitation, however, is the contrast to noise ratio that can be obtained from tissue depths greater than 1–2 mm. Microbubbles coated with an optically absorbing shell have been proposed as a possible contrast agent for PA imaging, offering greater signal amplification and improved biocompatibility compared to metallic nanoparticles. A theoretical description of the dynamics of a coated microbubble subject to laser irradiation has been developed previously. The aim of this study was to test the predictions of the model. Two different types of oil-coated microbubbles were fabricated and then exposed to both pulsed and continuous wave (CW) laser irradiation. Their response was characterized using ultra high-speed imaging. Although there was considerable variability across the population, good agreement was found between the experimental results and theoretical predictions in terms of the frequency and amplitude of microbubble oscillation following pulsed excitation. Under CW irradiation, highly nonlinear behavior was observed which may be of considerable interest for developing different PA imaging techniques with greatly improved contrast enhancement.