Twelve years ago I was in Mexico and totally fell in love. He was big and strong, had the most amazing smile and his eyes always looked so happy. There were only 2 problems - his breath was a bit fishy and my friend wanted his attention as much as I did. But it was my first time, so I was willing to make a few concessions and even share him, after all sharing an experience is so much more fun and particularly when it's a dolphin experience.
Since then, I have chased dolphins around the world - in fact they are the first thing I look for when I land anywhere. Can I see, play with, kiss or swim with dolphins? And what do you mean we are in the middle of the desert and there are no dolphins here. Can't you bring some in?
I should really apologise to those who travel with me when dolphins are around. It's not a pretty sight - I get very excited - run around screaming "OMG OMG OMG dolphins". I push and shove to be the first one in the queue and totally embarrass myself and those with me. But I can't help it. I am hooked! These are some of the most incredible experiences I've had with these beautiful animals.
Cabo Adventures, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo Adventures offers many different dolphin encounters, including Dolphin Encounter where you get to learn about the dolphins and then get closely acquainted with the dolphins in the shallow water pool. This is designed for non-swimmers and is an ideal introduction to the world of dolphins.
Dolphin Swim - offers small groups to swim with dolphins and get plenty of hands on quality time with them. Plenty of kisses and rides and communicating through hand signals, this is definitely an incredible experience.
Dolphin Experience - This program starts with an interactive orientation, then you will wade in the shallow water and get to know the dolphins with playful hugs and kisses and you also get the opportunity to take a ride across the pool with one of the dolphins.
Trainer for a Day - Designed for those who crave more than just swimming with dolphins, this program offers the unique opportunity to spend an unforgettable day helping a team of experts at the Cabo Dolphin Center. Working behind-the-scenes, you'll be in close contact with resident Pacific Bottlenose dolphins throughout the entire day, while witnessing first-hand the intriguing world of marine mammal professionals.
Dolphin Kids - Baby dolphins and their mothers get to know their new little human friends. Kids can pet and hug the dolphins, experiencing for themselves the unique bond that can exist between humans and these magnificent marine mammals. Kids can get as much one-on-one time with their dolphin as possible, along with feeding and singing with them.
This is where it all started. Xcaret is an archaeological park located in Riviera Maya, Cancun in the Mexican Caribbean Sea shore, which offers so many great experiences – swim with dolphins or sharks, snorkel in the park's underground rivers, relax on the white sandy beach, take a nature walk in the eco park and see fascinating wildlife, native birds and wild tropical forest, admire breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea and the park from a rotating scenic tower or enjoy a night musical show about the history of Mexico. There is so much to see and do.
The park offers 3 different dolphin experiences – Swim withDolphins Primax, Interax and Delphinus Trek. They are all incredible and ones you will never forget. You get to spend time in the water playing with the dolphins, hugging, jumping swirling and singing with them and also ride with them as they push you through the water or dive with them.
If you are visiting Hawaii and spend time on the beautiful island Oahu, a visit to Sea Life Park is a must. You'll get the opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and sea lions, enjoy many interactive shows and visit lots of amazing attractions including seabird sanctuary, penguin habitat and so much more. The park offers the following dolphin experiences
Dolphin Royal Swim This interactive program features two dolphins and can be summarized in two words: exhilarating and thrilling. An affectionate handshake and a kiss on the cheek prepares you for an exciting dorsal fin ride. The most breathtaking moment is during the foot push, when you feel all the strength and energy of these wonderful animals as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet.
Dolphin Swim Adventure
You will learn about daily dolphin life and interact with them up close and personal in this intimate and educational adventure. Enjoy a kiss and belly ride with a dolphin.
From a waist deep platform, you observe the dolphins while they perform high-energy tricks. Dolphins play, kiss and even "dance" with the guests. This is particularly suitable if you have young children.
Dolphin Seafaris is the only New Zealand operator specializing in both types of swimming with dolphins - free swimming and with swim bars attached to the boat. This enables you to get closer to the wild dolphins no matter how good a swimmer you are. The swim encounters are totally natural with only small groups of 3-8 maximum in the water at any one time. When you board the boat you are provided with a wetsuit and are given a briefing about your swim.
As you are out in the open ocean you may also get to see pods of Orcas, Humpback and Pilot Whales, Turtles and Seals.
Sadly the day we were on the cruise we were unable to swim with the dolphins, as the first pod we encountered had babies with them and when we found a second pod of dolphins, the sea was too rough, so for safety reasons we were unable to get in the water. Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience as we got to see lots of dolphins close to the boat.
Dolphin Marine Magic also known as the Pet Porpoise Pool is located in Coffs Harbour on NSW north coast and offers many different ways to interact with dolphins, seals, penguins, turtles and other animals and fish. Every day the park runs two marine magic presentations, where guests are given the opportunity to get involved in the dolphin and seal show. Before each session, you are given the opportunity to get a kiss from a dolphin and take pictures.
The Pet Porpoise Pool offers dolphin and seal experience for all ages and ability levels, including several shallow water encounters, swimming with seals and dolphins for more confident swimmers, a land based dolphin and seal encounter for those who do not wish to enter the water
Jervis Bay is located on NSW South Coast and is home to many pods of bottlenose dolphins, who can often be seen from the many beautiful beaches. However on a boat you can get very close and watch them as they ride the boat's pressure waves on the bow or play nearby.
Dolphin Watch Cruises offer a number of different experiences – Extreme Beach and Bay Cruise, 'Discover Jervis Bay' sailing charter, Winter Extreme Whale Cruise (May – November), Dolphin Watch Cruise and Summer Twilight BBQ Cruise.
Sea World on the Gold Coast features many interactive animal attractions including penguin point, shark bay, polar bear shores, ray reef, dolphin nursery pool and so much more. One of the most incredible shows is an interactive dolphin show at Sea World's Dolphin Cove which runs twice a day Learn all about the beautiful Sea World dolphins while witnessing their amazing agility and grace as they interact with their trainers at the largest sandy bottom lagoon ever built for dolphins.
Join Sea World's Dolphin trainers in an exciting Animal Adventure and 'Meet the Dolphin'. Allowing you to get up close and personal to one of Sea World's beautiful Dolphins in a unique and fairly dry experience. You only need to venture in to ankle deep water and can stay warm while still enjoying an amazing Dolphin experience including Dolphin patting, a Dolphin handshake and a special photo all from the comfort of a jetty.
The Meet the Dolphin program is available to participants 4 years of age or over and a minimum height of 102 cm.
Sea World also offers Dolphin Aqua Adventure for Adults, Dolphin Aqua Adventure Child, Dolphin Family Adventure and Trainer for a Day.
The Aqua Adventures are designed to offer adults, children and families a once in a lifetime experience of meeting and interacting with a Sea World dolphin and trainer together, in a fun, educational, shallow water encounter.
Swimming with dolphins should be on your list of things to do no matter what age you are. It is an incredible experience you will never forget. As you can see there are plenty of opportunities in Australia and around the world where you can get close to these beautiful animals.