Swimming with dolphins is the highlight for many travelers vacationing in Florida. This travel guide showcases three swim-with-dolphins programs and a homage to Flipper.
Florida offers many opportunities to swim with dolphins however, interacting with a wild dolphin can be dangerous and it’s against federal law to harass or feed them. While some marine outfitters promise interactions with wild dolphins, this quick travel guide highlights three Florida swim-with-the dolphin programs in a controlled setting. Reservations are strongly advised at each of the facilities.
Swim with Dolphins at Discovery Cove, Orlando
Only 1,000 visitors are permitted into Discovery Cove daily and the Dolphin Swim is the highlight. Discovery Cove guests are placed in small groups (six to eight people) and meet with a trainer to interact with a dolphin for about 30 minutes. Visitors learn basic hand signals to instruct the dolphin to do a trick, can give it a kiss on the nose, and be pulled along by holding onto its dorsal fin. When not swimming with the dolphins, visitors can snorkel the Coral Reef, interact with rays at Ray Lagoon (don’t worry, the rays don’t have stingers), or become eye to beak with colorful birds in the aviary.
Dolphin Swim Cost: $269 plus tax per person. Florida residents receive a discount on specific dates throughout the year. Included in admission is all-day use of a wetsuit, towels, meals, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Non-Dolphin Swim rate is available, too.
- Address: 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821
- Telephone: (407) 370-1280 or toll-free (877) 557-7404
Swim with Dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium
Visitors spend 30 minutes of the two-hour Dolphin Odyssey program in the water interacting with dolphins. Miami Seaquarium visitors have various opportunities to interact with the mammals through training, feeding, touching, and swimming with them across the dolphin pool. Group size is limited to 14 people.
Other activities at the Miami Seaquarium include shows with whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Crocodiles, manatees and sharks are on exhibit, too (but no swimming with them!).
Dolphin Odyssey Cost: $189 plus tax per person. Florida residents receive a discount on specific dates throughout the year. Included in the fee is the use of a wet-suit, towel, and all-day admission into the Miami Seaquarium.
Restrictions: Visitors need to be at least 5 years old, 52 inches tall, understand English, and children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
- Telephone: (305) 365-2501
Swim with the Dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys
Splash, play and swim with dolphins at Grassy Key’s Dolphin Research Center, a not-for-profit research facility in the heart of the Florida Keys. While the primary focus is on education and rehabilitation, fun and play are incorporated into the many dolphin interaction programs. Most notably is the Dolphin Encounter, a 20-minute structured swim with dolphins.
Not into swimming with dolphins? The Dolphin Research Center offers several programs for those not willing to get entirely wet. Try the Paint with Dolphins program and watch a dolphin paint a masterpiece on a t-shirt.
Homage to Flipper
Enjoy a bit of pop-culture at the Dolphin Research Center. Pay respect to Mitzi, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who starred as Flipper in the 1963 movie. She passed in 1972 and a large monument pays tribute to her.
Dolphin Encounter Cost: $180, includes all-day admission into the Dolphin Research Center.
Paint with Dolphins Cost: $55 plus $19.50 adult admission.
Dolphin Encounter Restrictions: Visitors must be at least 5 years old, be able to speak and understand English, and an adult is required to accompany children 5 to 12 years old.
- Address: 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, FL 33050-6019
- Telephone: (305) 289-0002
There’s something intriguing about these sea mammals and many travelers dream of swimming with them. Florida’s swim with dolphins programs helps fulfill those dreams.