Are You Interested in Swimming with Dolphins?
Do you sometimes think about swimming with dolphins but aren't sure what to expect? Maybe you don't know how safe it is, where to try it, or if it's worth it. This page can help answer all those questions. I have swum with dolphins, so I can tell you how my excursion was, how the animals are, what you should bring, and where I tried it. Here's a hint: It was an amazing and humbling experience that I'll never forget!
To celebrate my high school graduation, my family went on a Royal Caribbean cruise. One of our stops was in Cozumel, Mexico, and we decided we wanted to swim with dolphins. It was something I'd always wanted to do because dolphins seem like such incredible creatures.
We booked our spot way ahead of time through Dolphin Discovery. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to swim with dolphins, and you'll see why as you keep reading. Things may have changed since I've been there, but hopefully they haven't changed too much. They have other locations in Mexico and the Caribbean, not just Cozumel, so look at their site for more information.
Below is a picture of the location. Along that pier in the gorgeous blue water of Cozumel is where you get in the water to interact with the dolphins.
When we got to the Dolphin Discovery place at the time we scheduled, they brought a large group of people to a special area where they explained everything we would need to know about the dolphins, how to treat them, and what we would be doing, and what not to do. After that was done, they split everyone up into specific groups of about 10-12 people (don't worry, you're not separated from your family or group that you came with). We were then given life jackets and walked along the dock to the water. Numerous groups are in the water at once, but each group has its own dolphin and area.
I don't know about other companies and places, but this one was so great because of all the things they let you do with the dolphin and all the one-on-one-time you get. You stand in a row on a ledge in the water so that you're about waist deep. Just off the ledge though is deeper water. Everyone gets their turn to do everything, but you can decline if there is something you don't feel comfortable with.
You get to be kissed by the dolphin.
You get to kiss the dolphin back!
You get to shake hands with the dolphin.
You get to swim out into the water and "hold" the dolphin.
You get to hold onto the dolphin's fins while it pulls you through the water.
You also get to feel like a dolphin trainer in a show at a theme park by holding onto a boogie board while the dolphin pushes your feet with his or her nose.
After all that, you get to watch the dolphins put on a small show. Everyone gets a mask and snorkel to watch them underwater as well as above water.
What's so amazing and humbling is that you realize just how intelligent and human-like these animals are. They really know what's going on and work with you as the human. If you don't have a grip on their fins when they're pulling you, they'll stop and wait until you do. If you don't hold your foot quite right to be pushed, they'll wait, or they'll help you get back on track if your foot slips off their nose. They really have this intelligence that you hear about but don't truly understand until you interact with them.
When you're done, you're allowed to go eat at the restaurant or swim in the pool at their location. And of course, it's all situated on the gorgeous azure ocean shown in the first picture. It's a beautiful place fitting for such a beautiful experience.
Every place you go is going to be different, but here are some basic tips to keep in mind before you go.
- Put on sunscreen before you go. You always need to protect your skin, and you'll be too overwhelmed when you get there.
- Bring a waterproof camera if you have one. Where I went, we were allowed to take as many pictures as we wanted. If you don't bring a camera, you'll have to purchase pictures, and those are expensive.
- Bring towels.
- Most places will either have lockers or let you keep your stuff nearby. Bring only what you need though and no unnecessary valuables.
- Go early. You don't want to be in a rush or miss your opportunity.
- Wear a bathing suit.
- You'll be in the water, so keep accessories like sunglasses and hats to a minimum. Some places won't even allow them.
- Pay attention, and follow all rules. These dolphins are tamed and safe to swim with, but they are still wild animals. You also wouldn't want to do something that would harm them.
- Treat the dolphins and the place with respect.
- If you're going to do this in Mexico, bring your own bottled water.
Different companies have different rules, but very few people are excluded. For Dolphin Discovery, you must be at least eight years old. If you're not a strong swimmer, that's OK because everyone is given a life jacket, and you can still kiss, shake hands with, and pet the dolphin while standing on the ledge and not swimming at all.
The website itself states: "If you have any physical or mental limitation, please call us before you purchase your program." If you're not sure about something, give them a call, and they might be willing to make accommodations or at least let you know whether something will be a problem or not.
As you could see from my pictures, the young and old alike can partake. My grandparents loved it just as much as I did. Even those who are afraid will end up enjoying it when they see how gentle the dolphins are.
Regardless of who you are though, it's bound to be a rewarding experience!
Dolphin Discovery - Cozumel, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Cancun, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Los Cabos, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Costa Maya, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Vallarta, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Six Flags, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery - Anguilla, Caribbean
Dolphin Discovery - Puerto Aventura, Riviera Maya
Dolphin Discovery - Grand Cayman, Caribbean
Dolphin Discovery - Tortola, Caribbean
Miami Seaquarium - Miami, Florida, USA
Dolphin World - Miami, Florida, USA
Dolphins Plus - Florida Keys, USA
Discovery Cove - Orlando, Florida, USA
Sea World - San Diego, California, USA
Dolphin Cove - Grand Cayman, Caribbean
Dolphin Encounters - Bahamas, Caribbean
Dolphin World - Nassau, Bahamas, Caribbean