Today was our last day in the Florida Keys and we ended it with a splash – playing and swimming with bottle-nose dolphins in a natural lagoon at Dolphins Plus here in Key Largo, Florida. Less than 2-miles from our campsite at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – this place is amazing!
Dolphins Plus has two facilities in the Florida Keys – one in Bayside (the location we went to) and one in Oceanside. Depending on the location you select, there might be different experiences available. You’ll want to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled reservation bringing your swimsuit and your towel. You can make reservations by calling the numbers listed on the Dolphin Plus website.
The experience that we did was the Structured Swim with the dolphins. The whole experience takes about 2 hours – but I think you’ll find it goes by so fast because you’re having such a fun time. If you have children under 7 they generally recommend the shallow water experience, which also looks amazing, which has a minimum age requirement of 3. But because our five-year-old is such a big girl (48-inches and can swim on her own) they had us do the structured swim. I would trust their judgement when they recommend a specific program for your family – they all look amazing and I know you’ll have a good time.
We started by getting suited up in wetsuits and life vests and then we attended an educational briefing – where we learned all about dolphin anatomy, biology and behaviors. We were walked through some of the activities we’d do with the dolphins in the water and were brought out to the natural lagoon. About 15-18 feet deep the natural lagoon was about 71 degrees today (it was chilly today) but we were so warm in our wet suits we didn’t even notice!
We were the only people in the lagoon during the Structured Swim and we took turns doing various activities with the dolphins. Our trainer Kim was super patient and gave very clear instructions – so we always knew exactly what we should be doing – the dolphins did, too!
Hadley was a bit apprehensive when we first got there. But thankfully our trainer asked at the beginning if anyone was nervous and Hadley said she was. The trainer answered Hadley’s immediate question (Do Dolphins bite?) and explained a few more things . . .so Hadley quickly felt more at ease and after we got acquainted with the dolphins and she realized they were friendly – she was all smiles for the rest of the experience.
I think one of my favorite activities was giving the dolphins kisses . . . .here Liam and I kiss the dolphins. . . .
Jeremy kisses the dolphin . . .
Hadley kisses the dolphin.
And we also got kisses from the dolphins. The skin of the dolphin is so soft!
The kids especially thought this was fun. Wet, sloppy kisses from sweet dolphins.
We got to rub the dolphins tummies and find their a belly buttons!
Did you know dolphins have belly buttons? They do! As fellow mammals they have a gestation period of about 12 months. Baby dolphins generally weight 20-40 pounds when born.
Hadley rubs the dolphins tummy.
The dolphins are so smart! Here Liam guides the dolphin into a cheer!
And here Jeremy and Hadley give the dolphins a handshake.
The kids FAVORITE part of the whole day was holding onto the dorsal fins of the dolphins and actually swimming with the dolphins through the water. They are strong dolphins!
Even Miss Hadley was brave swimming with the dolphins – laughing the whole way across the lagoon.
And Jeremy swimming with the dolphins.
We swam out farther in the lagoon and the dolphins brought us this long jumping pole. We all held on to the edges and the dolphins leaped over the pole. Such an amazing sight to see up close!
And at the very end we did the Super Man swim – when you straighten your legs out and the dolphin pushes you through the water like you are flying. Hadley especially liked this one!
After the in-water activities, the trainer spent a few minutes with my kids on the dock teaching them some of the training tricks. My kids loved this, too!
You can’t take a camera down on the dock – you wouldn’t want to – it would get wet. But they have a professional taking photos during your whole experience. After your done, you can opt to get all the photos on a jump drive (shaped like a dolphin of course!). Prices start at $79.95 and I’m so glad we got this because the photographer captured some special moments (400+ photos!) that will provide life-long memories!
Hadley left Dolphin’s Plus exclaiming, “I’m going to be a dolphin trainer when I grow up!” and Liam was saying “Today was the best day, EVER!” They loved it so much and I loved that it gave them first hand experience with dolphins. I know this will be a memory they’ll have forever and it was definitely a highlight of our time in the Keys.
Sponsored post :: We were provided a complimentary visit to the Dolphins Plus facility in exchange for us sharing our honest opinion and experience with you. All opinions are my own. We really loved this experience and would highly recommend it to our friends and family! Some photos are mine, whiles others were taken by a professional photographer on the facility.