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. . . .