Ivana is passionate about travel, writing, photography and website design. She enjoys helping people start a new business and turn their hobby into a profitable venture. Visit Ivana at www.web4business.com.au
Published November 10th 2012
Incredible Bucket List Experiences
I am addicted to dolphins. There I said it.
I don't drink, I don't smoke, but say "dolphins" and I jump and run and scream "OMG OMG OMG" and totally embarrass myself and those travelling with me. I apologise … I won't do it again. Well … not until I see the next pod of dolphins.
It all started quite innocently … I was in Cancun, Mexico and totally fell in love. He was big and strong and when he looked at me with those big smiling eyes, I went weak in the knees. The only problem was my friend wanted to play with him as well. So we played … all 3 of us. Like little kids, we splashed and laughed and I never wanted to leave. That was 14 years ago in Xcaret Archaelogical Park.
They say you never forget your first experience and sure enough, I thought of my dolphin ride often.
Life went on … I started a business and sold it, had my son, split up with his dad, but always at the back of my mind, I so wanted to do it at least one more time.
Sea Life Park, Hawaii
Jordan turned 6, I had saved enough money and we were off. This time to Hawaii. Before arriving, I had booked for both of us to go on a dolphin experience. I wanted for him to see what I did all those years ago. The day we were meant to go on our dolphin adventure, I got sick and couldn't get out of bed.
My dream of being near a dolphin again quickly faded and I was crushed. I didn't think I'd be able to re-book for another day, but to my surprise, the staff at Sea Life Park were incredibly kind and let me come 2 days later, when I was feeling better. This time we got to kiss the dolphins, pet them and splash with them. Although a little afraid of the sheer size of these beautiful creatures, junior was brave and enjoyed the experience as much as I did.
Fast forward 3 years and I found myself on a cruise to New Zealand. One of the ports we stopped at was Tauranga and with it came an opportunity to go swimming with dolphins in the wild. Yes I was wild alright, wild with excitement. I prayed the whole night the ship would dock in time for us to catch the boat out. And once again the universe delivered. We made it in time.
I squeezed into a wetsuit that was about 3 sizes too small, I could hardly breathe, but I was ready. When the boat's captain asked who wanted to go first, my hand flew up by itself. I had no idea what I was going to have to do, but I didn't care. I figured it would work out OK.
We found the first pod of dolphins, but they had babies with them, so we were not allowed in the water. 2 hours later we came across more dolphins, but the sea was too rough and the captain decided it would be too dangerous. Maybe just as well … by then I was feeling a little sea sick and was glad to get out of my neoprene prison and back onto dry land. Still, we got to see so many dolphins and take lots of photos and videos, so the adventure was definitely worth it.
Several months after New Zealand I went back to Mexico, this time the other side of the country, to Cabo San Lucas. Naturally the first question I asked when I decided to go was "where do I swim with dolphins?" And just a short drive from out hotel was Cabo Adventures with their "Swim with Dolphins" program. More dolphin rides, more kisses, more play. I was in heaven. That adventure finished far too quickly, but I was grinning from ear to ear.
Not realising one could swim with dolphins in Australia, I was so excited to find out there was a park in Coffs Harbour, on NSW north coast, which offered dolphin encounters as well as dolphin swims. This time junior came with me and I am sure he wishes he hadn't.
Imagine a crazy woman running by the side of the pool, taking hundreds of photos, shooting videos and screaming OMG OMG OMG. Yes, that was me. And yes, the minute they announced dolphin kisses, I was at the front of the queue. I apologise to the little girl who I almost tripped over. Not only did we get kisses, but we watched an incredible dolphin and seal show and at the end we got to play catch with one of the dolphins. So fabulous.
On a recent trip down to Jervis Bay on NSW South Coast, yet another dolphin adventure presented itself. This time in the form of a Dolphin Watch Cruise. My son had asked to go to the back of the boat. By himself. He knew what was coming. Armed with a camera in one hand and video camera in the other, I was ready. And oh boy, was it worth it … what looked like dozens of dolphins swam so close to the boat. I almost passed out, I was so excited I forgot to breathe.