For many, swimming with dolphins is among the top items in their bucket lists. Here’s the low down on how and where you can go swimming along with these amazing sea creatures on an experience that brings smiles to children’s faces, builds long lasting memories and it never seems to lose momentum.
The experience of swimming with dolphins is a unique and rare opportunity in any individual’s life. Whether old or young, athletic or not, no matter your personal abilities, participating in this activity can only be described in one word – magical! However, practical people around the world want clear-cut answers on whether it’s possible to swim with dolphins and how it can be done.
Apart from leisurely swimming next to the sea creature, there are actual techniques, different ways of approaching them and different types of swims. These are all pertinent concerns that should be addressed before fitting a swim with dolphins into your very busy and active schedule. To get you prepared here are a few things you should know.
Protocol on How to Interact with a Dolphin
Before swimming with dolphins, you must understand and agree to comply with strict protocols while interacting with a dolphin. For starters, NEVER hit a dolphin, scream at one, abuse or hurt them in anyway if you want them to quickly comply with your requests. If you do one of these don’ts, you will definitely be banned from the facility.
In addition, NEVER insert fingers or any other item into any dolphin holes; this includes the blowhole that it uses for breathing. Follow the instructor’s directions to the letter, do not modify or interpret what they say to suit your personal experience. Still on protocols, never pull hard down on the dolphin when gripping the dorsal fin; instead, gently wrap your hands firmly around the fin as it tries to pick you up for a swim – treat a dolphin as you would treat a human being, with respect and courtesy and it will return the favor!
Minimum Requirements to Swim with Dolphins
If you want to swim with dolphins, the first thing you should do is leave all jewelry at home because none, including fingernail jewels, can be worn in water; of course make sure you are wearing the right attire which includes your swimsuit and usually a wetsuit. It is better if you could swim to enjoy the full experience. For purposes of safety, you have to be at least 48 inches tall and over six years; an adult or chaperone should accompany children younger than 11 years.
Swimming Technique: The Peck Ride
If you thought the dorsal fin ride was fun, just wait until you try out the not-so-common peck ride. Essentially, you ride in the middle of the two swimming fins on a dolphin. With you in the middle of the water and both hands outstretched, the trainer instructs the dolphin to swim towards you but upside down.
As the dolphin gets closer to you, you have a two to three seconds window within which you gently but firmly grab the two peck fins of the dolphin and ride him or her to the end of the pool. The dolphin propels you and himself using its tail fin, showing what such good swimmers dolphins can be.
Swimming Technique: Toe Push Ride
Those who have already experienced the toe push ride, deeply covet it, while those who’ve only heard of it, fear it. This swimming technique is equivalent to riding a combination of Hulk and Space Mountain rides; except that the roller coasters are dolphins.
As the name suggest, the toe push is where two dolphins swimming under you place their noses to your feet, one on each foot, and push you up through the water, catapulting you into the air to stimulate flight. While some people are fearful of this technique, it is safe to say that everyone who’s tried it has loved it and wants to do it repeatedly. This technique is the rarest and not done in all swimming locations, especially in the U.S.; but it’s done in other locations.
Swimming with Dolphins in London, UK
Fortunately, dolphins swim in British waters too, with several reported dolphin sightings in River Thames. At some point, United Kingdom was once home to about 36 dolphinariums and traveling dolphin shows – some of them even allowed visitors to get into the dolphin pools and tanks. However, in 1990, Parliament passed laws that banned dolphin captivity and the dolphins were returned to the wild; this legislation effectively put a halt to suppressed swimming-with-dolphins programs in the country.
A number of U.K. companies are currently offering offshore dolphin programs. While some operators prefer participants to remain on-board during the excursions, others may allow passengers to swim as long as the conditions are safe. In such instances, you can spot a wild dolphin swimming by or it may even approach you.
On several occasions, dolphins have separated from their pods and taken up residence in coastal areas and harbors. Such solitary dolphins are mostly friendly to humans and closely associate with swimmers and people on boats. Some cases have been recorded including in the coast of Cumbria and Newcastle Upon Tyne; locals have actually swam out to the dolphins and consider them as part of their community.
Best Places to go Swimming With Dolphins
Florida is one of the best places to go swimming with dolphins. You can experience dolphins close up at:
- Dolphin Research Center in Florida Keys;
- Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida;
- Dolphin Quest in Hawaii and Bermuda;
- Dolphin Explorer at Marco Island, Florida;
- Dolphinaris in Cancun, Cozumel and Tulum;
- Dolphin Cay in the Bahamas.
If you want to know where you can swim with dolphins in Europe, thaly place you can experience swimming with dolphins is in Portugal at the Zoomarine aquatic park in the Algarve.
The cost to go swimming with dolphins at places like Discovery Cove at SeaWorld in Orlando ranges from $199 to $289 per person.
Children must be older than 6 years and under 12 year olds must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Prices to go swimming with dolphins at Zoomarine in the Algarve, Portugal start at €180 for a shared experience and €780 for an exclusive experience for two. Spectators can watch for around €20.
If you like the idea of swimming with dolphins and want some more adventure inspiration, read my top 40 dream adventure experiences worldwide