Whether you’re traveling to the Mexican Caribbean, the Bahamas, Jamaica, or another Caribbean destination, there are plenty of places to swim with dolphins in the Caribbean.
For many travelers, swimming with dolphins is a bucket-list worthy activity. Since several species of dolphins live in the Caribbean Sea, this region is the perfect place to enjoy seeing and swimming with these docile creatures.
Where to swim with dolphins in the Caribbean
Dolphin Island (Punta Cana)
An dolphin interaction package at Dolphin Island is one of the most popular activities to book in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. Besides interaction with dolphins, the park features unique activities with stingrays, sharks, and sea lions. Because of Dolphin Island’s seaside location, you can interact with many of the animals in their natural habitat.
Knowledgeable staff will help you learn more about these creatures and how they live in the wild. There are also speed boat tour options, as well as a small beach area with a snack bar.
Dolphin Academy Curacao
Interact with coastal bottlenose dolphins in a natural saltwater lagoon and the open sea at the Dolphin Academy in Curacao. There are different courses and classes available for different ages. In addition, there is an aquarium featuring creatures from the Caribbean Sea.
You can choose from different excursions and activities that fall in different price ranges. One of these is the ocean lens experience, in which you can view a variety of fish and sea creatures up close underwater. In addition, be sure not to miss the dolphin and sea lion show!
The Dolphin Academy in Curacao is currently one of the highest-rated dolphin encounter facilities on Google businesses. Learn more about the town Dolphin Academy is located in, Jan Thiel, here.
Dolphin Encounters Nassau (Bahamas)
The Dolphin Encounter is part of the experiences at Blue Lagoon Island, a popular cruise ship stop in Nassau. Keep in mind that photos are not allowed during the dolphin experience. However, if you wish to buy some professional photographs of your experience, you may do so. (This is typical with most dolphin experiences in the Caribbean).
Dolphin Cay Atlantis (Bahamas)
The Dolphin Cay at Atlantis is another dolphin habitat run by the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. It is home to rescued sea lions and dolphins, and is the Caribbean’s premier marine animal rehabilitation facility. Visiting Dolphin Cay supports the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, which promotes the conservation of the coral reef and marine habitat of the Caribbean.
This facility features many unique tour and package options, such as the 6-hour “trainer for a day” experience. In addition, Dolphin Cay offers kayaking and paddle board experiences among the resident rescue dolphins.
Dolphin Cove Ocho Rios (Jamaica)
At Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, you can swim with dolphins, sharks, and stingrays in their natural habitat. In addition, the park includes a Jungle Trail Walk where you can see iguanas, birds, and snakes. Guests can touch some of these creatures at the petting zoo, and feed the birds at the aviary.
Trainers at the park are knowledgeable, and accommodating to guests of all ages, as well as those with handicaps. Other attractions at Dolphin Cove include boat rides, a small beach for swimming, a gift shop, and a restaurant. Note that Dolphin Cove is part of the Dolphin Discovery family.
Dolphin Discovery (Saint Kitts, Grand Cayman, Punta Cana)
Dolphin Discovery is an international company that owns a large number of dolphin rescue and training facilities in a number of Caribbean countries. They have eight facilities in Mexico alone. The others are located in Saint Kitts, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Florida (United States). In addition, there are parks in Anguilla and St. Maarten that are currently under repair due to to hurricane damage.
The company is accredited by the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association and is currently a member of the Mexican Association of Habitats for the Interaction and Protection of Marine Mammals. Their website states that they strive to contribute “everyday to the study and conservation of Marine Mammals by creating a bond of love and respect through the best interaction experience in marine habitats around the world.”
Is swimming with dolphins unethical?
Many travelers wonder whether it is a good idea to swim with dolphins in captivity. Are they being mistreated? Are dolphin shows unethical?
Although these are questions that each person must answer for his or herself, here are a few of the facts to consider before booking a dolphin excursion.
- Most of the dolphins that are held in captivity and are trained to interact with humans/perform in shows are rescued animals. They could not survive in the wild. This is why they cannot be released. Buying tickets from companies that run rescue programs is helpful to animal conservation, so your visit to a reputable facility supports a good cause.
- In many programs, the animals that visitors swim and interact with are free to come and go as they please. If you prefer, choose one of these programs. If you are not sure about whether the animals are held in captivity or not, call the facility you want to visit ahead of time. The Grand Cayman Stingray Experience is a good example of an excursion that includes swimming with animals in the wild.
- Questionable animal programs and shows do exist. A look at the program’s website and reviews will help you understand whether the animals that participate are well cared for or mistreated. Purchasing tours with programs that keep animals in dirty facilities that are too small will help support them. Do your research ahead of time so that you do not end up inadvertently supporting something you don’t agree with.
Love animals? Check out these articles about Caribbean creatures!
Main image credit: Dolphin World