The desire to visit Dolphin Cove and interact with the intelligent, adorable mammal has been present for as long as I can remember. It didn’t resurface to the forefront of my thoughts until a visit to the Bahamas granted the opportunity to briefly pet and kiss a dolphin. Soon after said trip, a saleswoman promoting  Dolphin Cove coupon booklets crossed paths with me, one example of attracting opportunities into your life. Upon arriving at the venue, it seemed like everyone there had their decision to visit influenced by the same booklet.

Dolphin Encounter

The lagoon area is the main attraction, where all the magic happens. Only patrons participating in the dolphin encounter are allowed beyond the lagoon entrance gate while all others watch from a distance. Patrons are placed in groups and for about 30 minutes are afforded the opportunity to pet, kiss, hold, ‘dance’ and swim with a pair of dolphins. The swim experience with a single one includes holding your rubbery companion by its pectoral fins (‘hands’) while it leisurely swims backwards from the centre of the lagoon with you on its underside. The double team swim includes holding under their head dorsal fins as they swim side by side, followed by you being pushed from your foot bottoms (feet) by the noses of both critters to briefly glide on water.

Travel Tip: If members in your group aren’t engaging in the dolphin encounter, discuss the itinerary beforehand so they’re not left bored while you frolic with dolphins.

Following the interactions, the knowledgeable trainers share interesting facts about the mammals (see some below) and orchestrate a series of tricks. You may even catch a brief entertaining display by all the dolphins include numerous simultaneous flips and leaps from all edges of the lagoon, it’s quite the show. To view the exclusive photos by the on-site photographer of your encounter, head to the gift shop.

If you’d definitely like a photographic souvenir or DVD, budget extra beforehand.

FUN FACTS

• Dolphins only have 3 senses – sight, hearing, touch

• They don’t chew their food. They instead use their teeth for playing/fighting

• The force of a hit from their tail can be lethal

• Their top fins are equivalent to a human’s fingerprint; it’s their unique identifier

Birds of a Feather

The pirate-themed venue includes wooden signage and the occassional buccaneer.  The aviary houses dozens of small, colourful birds, pitching on anything or anyone within the space. Hills of seeds disappear in seconds as they crowd cupped hands to feast. It is not at all uncommon for them to take residence on other body parts, such as shoulders and head tops (heads).

There will likely be birds at your feet. No sudden foot movements are advised.

If you’re in the mood for more feathered friends, there are 3 parrots just a few steps outside the aviary. The colourful birds will greet you with a ‘standard ‘hello’ before perching themselves on forearms and fists if you allow, so be ready to extend. Their ‘morning special’ includes giving you a gentle kiss on the cheek.

Mini Zoo

Test your courage at the mini zoo; would hold an iguana, or let a snake roam your body? I timidly asked to hold Charlie, the iguana, who was laid on tense shoulders as I looked the other way. With a face probably only a mother iguana could love, it took a while to be able to face the large, green lizard without cringing. He may be heavier than expected, and the inquisitive lizard isn’t too shy to move around. The initial fright was now gone, never did I expect to bond with a lizard of any size; average-sized lizards however are still not welcome in my personal space.

Depending on which trainer you ask, you may or may not also have the chance to interact with the resident snake, which also isn’t too shy to move around.

Some meters away is a pen of bouncing bunnies, bucking the cuteness radar! They seem to be more receptive to humans if you sit on the ground and allow the hopping hares to approach. They also apparently share great delight in scratching at towels and nibbling protuding ornaments on clothing if given the chance. Morsels of carrots can be found on the ground and can be picked up to feed them.

flirt with danger: stingray snorkel & shark show

Suit up with a life vest and snorkel gear and step into the shallow pool created by a border within the sea. Sea creatures including small fish and stingrays are filtered by a fence and are free to transition from the defined snorkeling area to the open sea. Keep your eyes peeled, as one may appear right beneath you int he literal blink of an eye.

3 trainers showcase a 15-minute presentation featuring 2 nurse sharks. The show is laced with wit, humour, and the forceful chomps of a feeding nurse shark… WOW!

cool down

Wrap up your trip with a shoot down a spiral water slide, kayaking, lazing on the beach, and a 10-minute motorboat ride to view the base of the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls where the river meets the sea. A quick wash off courtesy of natural springs fed through pipes will be an end to a fun-filled day.

directions

Between the Highway 2000 North-South exit and the Ocho Rios Town Centre are a host of popular attractions, Dolphin Cove included. The unmistakable signage on the main road can be found beside a roadside souvenir vendor display, near the Dunn’s River Falls entrance.

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