Winter 2016 WON’T have us singing, “The cold never bothered me anyway.” So here’s an idea to beat the winter blues: start travel planning. Bye bye, Elsa, and hello Dominican Republic! What makes the Dominican Republic rise to the top of exotic Caribbean destinations is its range of adventurous activities. And nothing says tropical excitement like swimming with dolphins! Dolphin Explorer is the perfect opportunity to “dive in” and experience dolphins up close in the Dominican Republic.
Swim with Dolphins
Our trip to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break was one of the most action-packed vacations we’ve ever had, thanks to the excursions we selected. Even though we chose an all-inclusive resort, we knew we wanted to get off the resort to gain a better sense of what the Dominican Republic has to offer.
First on our Dominican Republic mix tape is the catchy tune by Jimmy Buffett called “Fins.” No, not the shark kind, it’s dolphins! I’m not alone in my fascination with swimming with dolphins: just read about fellow Traveling Moms’ experiences at Dolphin Cove in Jamaica and Dolphins Plus in Key Largo, Florida. Swimming with dolphins has long been on my bucket list, so I couldn’t wait to get in the water. And our kids were over the moon excited, too!
We chose Dolphin Explorer because hello, it’s dolphins and this location was more convenient to our resort and we were able to secure a reservation (unlike the other dolphin attraction on the island which was only available the day we flew home). They offer several packages with increasing dolphin interactions. We opted for Dolphin Excellence where you can swim with TWO dolphins.
What You Will Need to Swim with Dolphins
Here are the suggested items you should bring to Dolphin Explorer: Swim suit, towel, headgear to protect against the sun biodegradable sunscreen, sandals or flip-flops, and money for extras such as snacks and drinks, photographs and videos, and items from the shop. Sunglasses and glasses are allowed during programs provided that they are secured with a head band.
A passenger van arrives at your resort to drive you the 20-30 minutes (including stops at other Punta Cana resorts) to Dolphin Explorer. The property is a wildlife park that includes sea lions, sharks, stingrays, and tropical birds,
Once you have stored your belongings in the lockers provided, a guide shows a short 10 minute video about the program you have selected and teaches you the basic anatomy of a dolphin. Everyone must wear a life jacket-no exceptions.
Our two dolphins, Maya and Maraca, and our expert trainer, Charlotte, gave us 45 minutes of pure bliss. The majestic and gentle sea creatures gave us an afternoon of smiles, kisses, and dances. Yes, we actually danced with the dolphins!
Charlotte was very knowledgeable and friendly. Since there were two dolphins, we interacted with them in pairs, and I felt we had very generous amount of time even though we were in a group of 10 people.
Maya and Maraca jumped over us, took us for a ride as we grabbed their dorsal fins, and even serenaded us with their “voices.” Interesting tidbit: dolphins do not have vocal chords, so the sounds they make are air passing through their nasal passages. Melodic indeed!
No one will turn down a kiss from a dolphin. My son was all smiles!
And the absolute highlight is when the two dolphins lift you by your feet into the air and propel you through the water. Strike your best cheerleader pose because that’s what you look like! In that moment, you feel like Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack in the movie Titanic when he yells, “I’m the king of the world!” (Or queen, as the case may be).
The Drawbacks of Swimming with Dolphins
Price: This is quite a costly adventure–$ 800 for our family of four. Granted, the dolphins are but one of the features at this park, but had we already experienced swimming with dolphins before, I think we would have passed. It was exhilarating to be sure, but worth $800? That’s debatable, especially when you consider it’s not even an all-day activity. For a splurge, definitely give it a try. FYI: The current promo code to save 20% at Dolphin Explorer is SPRING.
Photos: Dolphin Explorer says they don’t allow cameras “for safety reasons.” Here’s why they say no cameras – they can sell you the photos. The photo package for four swimmers including one CD and one DVD cost a whopping $ 210! You get images of your entire family interacting with the dolphins as well as video footage. Watching the dolphins lift you into the air is more amusing in video format and future blackmail material for the kids at their weddings! Even if you did have someone there to just watch and take photos, they better have a pretty good camera lens because they are 50-100 yards away (depending on where you are in the dolphin swim area) on a separate part of the dock.
It’s disappointing that Dolphin Explorer will not allow GoPros/waterproof cameras to be used, but that seems to be the norm for dolphin experiences.
I will say, when we look back on these photos and the memories made that day, I can justify it as a once in a lifetime experience. We were paying as much for the memories and the uniqueness of the venue in that Dominican setting. It certainly doesn’t diminish how I will always treasure that day as one of those priceless days you pull out like a beloved heirloom that makes you smile wistfully (and maybe even shed a tear).
We were able to simultaneously enthrall a tween, a teen, and two adults on a family activity that was pure, educational, and captivating. Bravo! I’d say that deserves a standing ovation!
My “Score” for Dolphin Explorer
5 notes out of 5 for overall experience. ♩ ♩ ♩ ♩ ♩
2 out of 5 for value. ♩ ♩