When visiting the Florida Keys there are certain things that everyone must do. 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.
We stayed on a sailboat at the Pilot House Marina which was only a couple of blocks from Dolphins Plus, the operator I ended up choosing for our swim. Ironically enough, I had no idea it was that convenient because I liked what they offered.
Before visiting a location I do a ton of research. And I must admit, choosing the best program for our dolphin swim was a tough one. All the programs are true dolphin lovers, they not only allow us to be entertained but also educate us about these amazing animals and the marine environment.
So Why Did I Choose Dolphins Plus?
Dolphins Plus offered programs that not all of the others did. Even though, I didn’t participate in these programs, I wanted to contribute to establishments that did.
Breakdown of the different swims that are offered:
Structured Dolphin Swim Program – this is the most standard package and the one my husband and I did. Since water and dolphins are not at all my element, I wanted to be where it was controlled and under skilled supervision of the trainers.
Natural Dolphin Swims – this is for people that are much more comfortable in the big blue sea and also dolphins. You are literally swimming with them in their natural environment. There is some supervision, but very little.
Oma’s Dolphin Swims Program – Oma, who’s real name is Anna Marie Borguss, was the owner’s wife. She battled cancer for over six years. When she developed the illness Dolphins Plus and Oma developed a program that cancer patients and people who are in remission can come and swim with the dolphins for free. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to this place. What a special program!
Dolphin Child Therapy – And this is the other reason. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know much about dolphins, or animals for that fact. However, my son has been taking horseback riding lessons for over one year and I get to sit and watch what goes on at the farm. Horses often work with special needs kids. They somehow have a magical effect on them and I have seen this wonder right in front of my eyes. Dolphins, I’ve heard, have similar effects and if a child who has special abilities can work with dolphins I think it is one of those truly amazing opportunities.
Breaking Down the Structure Swim Experience
We started the swim with a sit down as a trainer gave us the full rundown of what to expect. But most importantly, teaching us about the animal and how to swim with them.
Then we had to get on our wet suits. Actually we didn’t ‘have to’ put them on, but the water isn’t exactly 80 degrees and we spent a good thirty minutes in the water. So it is better to be comfortable than thinking that you are too cold to enjoy yourself. Plus, they have wetsuits for all shapes and sizes.
While we waited for the rest of the group to get ready, we watched as a trainer was working with new dolphins.
Even though there were other people in our group, each two people had their own trainer and assistant. And they worked with what was most comfortable for you.
Before starting ourselves, we watched as the dolphins showed off their tricks. Which was pretty impressive.
Everyone gets their own dolphin to play with. My husband and I just happened to get a mama and baby team. Although the baby was full grown. At least to me he was.
Trainers for the day – we got to do tricks for with the dolphins, just like trainers (almost). 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.
Ride the dolphins. Ok these two tricks at first totally freaked me out. Just the idea of them, more so than the actual trick. I have been to Sea World several times and have seen the trainers do insane rides with the dolphins. And of course, I was scared thinking that you need years of training to do what they do. Probably if I was to do it as long as them I would, but for the few minutes we did it, I did just fine.
This one was by far the scariest one for me. My husband got an obvious kick out of it.
How about a little dance before we say good bye
It was time to say good bye – very loudly
And the best part – the farewell 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 a number of different dolphin species like: common dolphins, bottlenose, Atlantic spotted dolphins.
The diet of dolphins can encompass a wide range of prey ranging from common fish like mackerel and herring to more exotic species like eels and even squid.
Dolphins are very effective hunters, using their larger size, superior intelligence and social hunting techniques in a variety of different ways.
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, with smaller groups of only two or three adult males and larger pods of female and juvenile dolphins numbering fifteen or more.
The gestation period for newborns averaging 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
You definitely need a reservation. They have few dolphins, so plan ahead.
I’m sure you are impressed with my photos. But the truth is, not all of them are taken by us. For each two people that are swimming together they have a photographer.
You can buy the CD for $90. Yes, that is definitely a steep price. But the way I looked at it, this will probably be my one-and-only experience with dolphins. Why not remember everything I did.
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
Dolphins Plus – Swimming with Dolphins – Review