Whenever you visit a new place, you searching for the must-dos of each place is so fun. The Florida Keys are no exception, while exploring them you should at least: Ride a motorcycle across the 7 mile bridge, go for a sunset party on Mallory Square, enjoy the nightlife on Duval Street and go swimming with dolphins.
During our recent trip to the Keys we limited ourselves to Key Largo and Key West. I already had booked all of our time in Key West, so I left swimming with dolphins for Key Largo.
During that time we stayed on a sailboat at the Pilot House Marina. It was extremely close to Dolphins Plus. This was the tour operator that I chose for our swim.
Before we visit any location I like to do tons of research and choosing the best program for swimming with dolphins was a tough task due to all the good companies out there. But something was different about Dolphins Plus. All of their programs allow visitors to be entertained and educated about these amazing animals, yet offered other great programs too.
So Why Did I Choose Dolphins Plus?
I didn’t get to participate in all the programs of Dolphin Plus. But I wanted to support a company that offers something that no all of the others did.
Breakdown of the different swims that are offered:
Structured Dolphin Swim Program – This was the only one we were able to do. It is the most standard package. I am not at all familiar with swimming and dolphins so I wanted a controlled environment under skilled supervision of the trainers.
Natural Dolphin Swims – If you are more comfortable in the big blue sea than me this would be a better choice. You will be swimming with dolphins in their natural environment. There is some supervision, but very little.
Oma’s Dolphin Swims Program – Oma, who’s real name was Anna Marie Borguss, was the owner’s wife. She battled cancer for over six years. The program was created in her honor, to offer people like her, who had cancer or people who are in remission a chance to swim with these noble creatures for free. This was the main reason why I wanted to come here. What a special program!
Dolphin Child Therapy – This was another reason why I chose Dolphin Plus. To be honest with you, I don’t know much about animals. But, I have been able to see my son in his horseback riding lessons for over a year and witnessed the magical effect that horses have on kids. I’ve heard that dolphins have similar effects. That’s why I thought this program was such a wonderful thing.
Breaking Down the Structure Swim Experience
The first thing we got was a rundown of what to expect. But most importantly, the trainer taught us about the animals and how to swim with them.
Then we had to put on our wet suits. Actually, it isn’t mandatory but the water isn’t exactly 80 degrees so it’s better to put them on. It will allow you to be comfortable instead of cold.
During the time we spent waiting for the rest of the group to put on their suits we watched a trainer teaching cool stuff to new dolphins.
This wasn’t a private tour, but there was a trainer for each two people. They were there to make sure that you were doing only what is comfortable for you.
Before jumping into the water the dolphins gave us a short show, they wanted to show off their tricks. This was really impressive.
Another cool thing was that we all got our own dolphin to play with. My husband and I got a mama and her full grown baby.
Trainers for the day – We were able to ask them to do tricks, almost as if we were their trainers. The dolphin brought out a stick for us, and then we had to arrange it for her to jump over it.
And they take very good instructions.
Another fun part of the program was riding the dolphins. The idea of doing this freaked me out a bit. I have been to Sea World several times and have seen the trainers do insane rides with the dolphins. So I thought that there was a need for years of training. But it turns out that I did just fine.
I even got to dance with one of these gorgeous creatures. At the end, they said goodbye with loud noises and a kiss.
What I learned about the Dolphins from our Trainer
- The warm waters and abundant food of this region has made it an ideal area for three different species of dolphins: common dolphins, bottlenose, Atlantic spotted dolphins.
- The diet of dolphins consists on a wide range of prey ranging from: mackerel, herring, eels and even squid.
- Dolphins are very effective hunters. They use their larger size, superior intelligence and social hunting techniques to trick their pray.
- Dolphins are social animals, and can be found in both small and large groups, known as pods.
- The size and social organization of these groups can vary greatly.
- The gestation period for newborns is of about 11 – 13 months.
- Females are able to reproduce on average once every two to six-years.
- The species of dolphins that are most commonly found in this area enjoy the warmer waters and more abundant food supply that can be found in a tropical and sub-tropical climate.
Information for Visiting Dolphins Plus
If you are interested in experiencing what they have to offer you definitely need a reservation.
You might be thinking that we took great photos. But not all of them were taken by us. They have photographers for each two people.
You also get the choice to buy the CD of your experience for $90. It does feel a bit expensive but this will probably be my one-and-only experience with dolphins. Why not remember every little detail.
Programs and prices:
Structured Dolphin Swim Program
• Daily at 9:15 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm.
• Swimmers must be at least 7 years old to participate
• $195 per swimmer (January 16th thru February 28th) and (September 1st thru December 14th)
• $210 per swimmer (March 1st thru August 31st) and (December 15th thru January 15th)
Natural Dolphin Swims
• Twice daily, at 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
• Swimmers ages 8 – 12 years must be accompanied in the water by a participating parent or guardian, age 18 or older. Swimmers ages 13- 17 years must be accompanied at the facility by a participating or observing parent or guardian, age 18 or older.
• 30 minutes in-water – $150 per swimmer (January 16th thru February 28th) and (September 1st thru December 14th)
• $165 per swimmer (March 1st thru August 31st) and (December 15th thru January 15th)
Address: 31 Corrine Pl. Key Largo, FL