Dolphin Swim at Dolphinaris

Our crew - minus my sister Rachel and her 2 year old
As I just posted, our second adventure of the summer was to go to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico with my parents, sisters, and nieces!  (and brother in law too - can't forget him!)

The only big outside adventure that we all did was to go swim with dolphins!

First, if you have never pet or swam with a dolphin, I highly recommend it!  Now, I know that there is controversy about this, but it seems views and research can go either way as with most things.  According to some research, and what I have been told by a friend who used to work with dolphins doing therapy with individuals, swimming with dolphins creates an effect that brings joy and peace of mind, enforces the immune system, improves awareness, attention and self control, and develops feelings of confidence and compassion.  From our three hour experience with dolphins I can't attest to all of that, but I can say that it definitely gave me a feeling of great joy and a sense of balance (the best way I can put it) while I pet them and interacted with them!  It also appeared that the dolphins were having a good time too!

Jackson gives a kiss
Anyways...
We went to a place called Dolphinaris in Puerto Aventuras near Playa del Carmen.  There are a ton of companies and experiences to choose from so do your research!  I chose Dolphinaris because of its proximity to our resort (we traveled with young children and I didn't want to be on a bus for two hours in Mexico) and because of the reviews it got on Trip Advisor.  I would go back, although there were a few things I was disappointed about.

They provided transportation to and from the resort.  They were on time which in my experience in Mexico is a rarity!  We were all given bracelets to identify what we were allowed to do and then we had time to explore and watch the dolphins in the pools.  They had a big screen up showing the activities with the dolphins which was great for the kids to see so they could get a clear idea of what was going to happen.

Ryan dancing with the dolphin
When they were ready to begin, they split us up into groups on rows of benches.  Since we were all together as a family and there were 11 of us, we were able to be our own group which was really nice.  Each group was partnered with a different trainer and lead to a different section of the pools.

I love the expression on my mom's face!  This is the dolphin foot push!
The pools are fashioned in a way that makes it easy to interact with the dolphins.  They have an area of sand and water that is up to about your knees and then there is a platform in the water around the pool that is cement.  The platform drops off abruptly so the dolphin can swim in deep water next to the platform while you stand and pet it.



Tyce and I on a belly ride



Lola giving pets and hugs

Tyce couldn't get enough!

Kisses from Lola


Jackson being pushed on his foot by the dolphin through the water!


Ryan and Lola on a belly ride
We had a certain amount of time with three different trainers and different dolphins in different areas of the pools.  Our first station we kissed the dolphin, did a little dance with him, and then did the foot push.  The foot push is when the dolphin pushes one of your feet sending you speeding through the water!  This was a favorite of the family's!  The little kids couldn't do it so they went on our backs and we did a belly swim with the dolphin instead.  In our second station we all did a belly swim.  During this swim, you hold onto the dolphins fins and he propels you through the water while you are belly to belly with him!  The last station we did was the snorkel and interaction station.  During this time you put on a mask, get into the water and watch the dolphins underwater.  This was our least favorite station.  Not only was there a ton of down time where we just floated in the deep water watching dolphin poo float over our heads, but we only pet the dolphin about six times because there was another group paired with us during this time and the dolphin was always waiting for instructions from the trainer who was talking to the other group.

In all, it was a great experience and we all loved it!  If you ask the kids what their favorite part of the trip was they will tell you swimming with the dolphins!  It was a great way to spend our first full day in Mexico!

The good parts:
  • It is a very clean facility.
  • There are clean bathrooms, showers, and lockers to keep your things.
  • The facility is very nice.
  • There are a lot of trainers and dolphins.
  • You get a ton of time in the water with the dolphins!
  • The trainers tweaked some of the activities to meet the needs of our diverse group. (we had ages 4 to 60 in our group)
  • They took good pictures.
  • The have a big area for all of the groups to interact with the dolphins so we were spread out and not on top of each other.
  • Even with 11 in our group we each had a lot of time with the dolphins individually.
  • The dolphin kisses, foot push, belly swim, and other interactions were great fun!

The not so good parts:
Smooch!
  • You can not wear sunscreen.
  • The food is expensive. ($10 for a hot dog!)
  • You can not take your camera with you to take pictures and if people are watching from the viewing area you have to pay for them to be there and they can not go down by the dolphin pools.
  • You can purchase pictures, but they are really really expensive! (over $300 for a CD of pictures)
  • The snorkel portion of our swim was just dumb.  We floated in the water, pet the dolphin maybe six times when it was told to swim under us and watched dolphin poo float by our faces.
  • The description I received on the phone was different then the actual experience.  I was told we could pick three out of six experiences to do with the dolphins and would do three land activities.  There were no land activities and we were told what we were to do and not given choices.  I had read the reviews so I knew I didn't want to do the snorkel activity!



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