Best Places To Swim With Dolphins In Florida
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Dolphins are beautiful and gentle creatures and it is no secret that Florida is one of the best places to swim with dolphins. It’s exciting to see dolphins swimming along the coast of Florida, but swimming with them up close is even more of an incredible experience.
Here are some of the best places in Florida where you can swim with a dolphin.
Theater Of The Sea – Islamorada Key
The Theater Of The Sea is a one of a kind place that allows you to experience swimming with dolphins in lagoons amid lush, tropical gardens.
The most popular package, from $255, is “Swim With The Dolphin” that allows you to interact with the dolphin while swimming in the lagoon.
They also have a budget version that is from $155 that allows you to have an express swim with the dolphin that includes three popular behaviors which are swim by, kiss, and foot push.
General admission is included with the dolphin swim where you can see the dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows, a bottomless boat ride, and a chance to see fish, sting rays, sharks, alligators and crocodiles.
If you really enjoy the dolphin swim and decide you want to have more similar experiences, they also offer sea lion swims, sting ray swims, and shark swims as well as the chance to just meet and interact with the animals.
SeaWorld – Orlando
SeaWorld is one of the top marine zoological theme parks in Orlando. Even though it does not have the option to swim with dolphins, you can still have a dolphin encounter at the Dolphin Cove.
The Dolphin Encounter is about 15 minutes long where you will be able to learn all about how the dolphins are cared for.
You will then get a few minutes to interact with and touch the dolphins while getting your pictures taken.
The encounter starts at $25 per person with the option of an add-on which will allow you to take home a printed photo and a medium-sized plush.
Another option is to do a 30-minute Dolphins Up-Close Tour on which you will get to splash with the bottlenose dolphins at the dolphin nursery.
With this tour, you are able to touch and feed the dolphins while having your pictures taken as well. During the whole process you will learn more about the dolphins trainings and their behaviors after which you will be able to ask the dolphin to perform some of the behaviors.
These are both great options to have a dolphin experience if you are already visiting SeaWorld in Orlando but don’t have time to have a full dolphin swimming experience.
Hours: Varying, sometimes 10am-9pm
Discovery Cove – Orlando
Discovery Cove is a theme park owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and is a sister park of SeaWorld and Aquatica.
At the Dolphin Lagoon, you have the chance to swim with the dolphins.
The Signature Dolphin Swim Experience begins with meeting a dolphin. Then you are instructed on dolphin habits, behaviors, and how to interact with them. After, each person will have the chance to individually interact with the dolphin one on one.
A purchase of the Signature Dolphin Swim Experience will include everything the inclusive day resort has to offer.
This includes unlimited food, wetsuits and snorkel gear, beaches and lagoons, rivers and waterfalls, snorkeling with fish and rays, feeding tropical birds, and of course, up-close animal encounters.
The dolphin swim starts at $324 per person, and you have the chance to purchase admission to the two other parks at just a small increase in price.
Book ahead because the spots are limited since they try to keep the experience one-of-a-kind and plan ahead with things you need to know before your visit.
Gulf World Marine Park – Panama City Beach
At the Gulf World Marine Park, you have several packages to choose from when considering swimming with dolphins. With so man options there is sure to be an unforgettable experience that you love.
The Royal Swim is one of the best options for a dolphin swim that includes hand shakes, hug, touches, hand target, interaction and animal enrichment. But if you want more excitement then opt for the Rough-Toothes Royal Swim where you get to do a belly ride and a dorsal tow with two dolphins along with all the other various activities.
They have a few more program options like the Swim Adventure and Dolphin Encounter giving people many options to choose from. Their programs range from $139 to $209 depending on the activities included.
All of the packages are approximately 30 minutes long and include general admission where you can enjoy the shows and indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as pet the sting rays.
They also have plenty of other interactive programs which make them a great place for families to visit in Florida.
Hours: 10a.m. to 3p.m.
Marineland Dolphin Adventure – St. Augustine
Located in the most historic city in the United States, the Marineland Dolphin Adventure has an oceanarium that allows people to have an incredible dolphin experience.
Of the three dolphin swim packages, the Royal Swim (starting at $199) is considered the most fun and unique. You will experience the foot push, dorsal tow, hand target, handshake, hug, caresses and various other activities. This activity has the most swimming and interaction with the dolphins.
The Swim Adventure (starting at $169) has the belly ride as the star of this dolphin experience package along with the chance to touch and play with the dolphins.
To interact with the dolphins on a shallow underwater platform rather than swimming, the Dolphin Encounter (starting at $139) is the best choice. You will be able to get the dolphins to perform the hand target where the dolphin come up in the water to touch your hand.
Love dolphins but not swimming? There is also an option to paint together with the dolphins or become a dolphin trainer for the day.
Sign up for their email list to receive exclusive offers and discounts.
Hours: 8:30a.m. to 3:00p.m.
Seaquarium – Miami
Known as Miami’s best aquarium, the Seaquarium has many animal experiences of which the most popular are the dolphins.
At the Dolphin Harbor, you get to experience getting in the water with the friendly dolphins. The Royal Swim is the ultimate dolphin experience that the Seaquarium has to offer.
You will get the chance to swim with two dolphins and feel the thrill of being pushed or pulled by them through the water. The overall experience is about 30 minutes and costs $249 which includes park admission.
If you want a more calm experience, then the Dolphin Odyssey might be the perfect fit. You will get 30 minutes with interactive activities such as a kiss, handshake, hugs, and hand signals with a deep water ride.
Hours: Weekday 10am-3pm Weekends 10am-5pm
Dolphins Plus – Key Largo
Dolphin Plus is the best place to swim with dolphins in Key Largo. They have two in-water dolphin encounters that you can choose from.
The Signature Swim, which starts at $225 will have you get to know the dolphins in shallow water and then move to deeper water where you can do foot pushes or dorsal tows. After the deep water adventures, you will move back to shallow water where belly rubs and other fun behaviors.
With the Shallow Water Dolphin Encounter ($185) you will be in the shallow water the whole time where you can comfortably stand. You will be able to do all the fun interactive behaviors like body rubs, hand shakes and kisses.
There are also options to add on to your swim like painting with the dolphins or a photo package to take the memories home with you.
Dolphin Research Center – Marathon
At the Dolphin Research Center, they research and rescue dolphins promoting peaceful coexistence. This makes it one of the best places to swim with dolphins because they take great care of their dolphins.
Out of their many programs, their Dolphin Encounter is the most popular program that includes a dorsal pull. The price is $210 per person which includes up to 25 minutes in the water as well as other general admission activities.
Other programs include the Family Dolphin Splash which is the perfect choice for families with small children, and Meet The Dolphin for those who just want to get up close but not in the water.
One of their most unique programs offered are the Ultimate Trainer For A Day where you get to follow around a trainer all day and experience first hand what it is like working with dolphins and the Researcher Experience where you get to spend half a day with the research team.
In their special VIP program you spend half a day up close with the dolphins and sea lions.
Whichever program you choose, it is sure to be fun and a great learning experience spending the time with trainers and researchers who know so much about dolphins.
Hours: 9am-3pm, sometimes 4:30pm
Things To Know Before Swimming With Dolphins
No jewelry – Wearing jewelry can be risky for you and the dolphins. To make sure you don’t lose your jewelry while swimming with the dolphins and to keep the dolphins safe in a clean habitat, take off all jewelry when getting ready for your swim.
No sunscreen/oils/perfume/lotions – To keep a clean and safe habitat for the dolphins, it is best not to wear any sunscreen. Dolphins can be sensitive to such things so it is important not to expose the water to these. If you do need to wear sunscreen, reach out to the place where you plan to swim with dolphins and they may provide one for you that is also safe for their dolphins.
Follow instructions – It is important to follow instructions you are given when swimming with dolphins. The trainers are skilled professionals who know their dolphins behavior and have the knowledge to provide the best experience for you. Only touch the dolphins when you are instructed to do so.
Arrive Earlier – It takes a while to prepare and instruct the group before actually going on the swim. To be well prepared, arrive early to give yourself and the instructors enough time.
Enjoy! – Most of all enjoy the moment and make incredible memories while your dream of swimming with the dolphins comes true.