Water excursions with small children can be tricky. My 7 year-old son loves being in the water while my 5 year-old son is more hesitant, and I turn into a nervous, over-protective mom who constantly nags my former-lifeguard husband to stay close to the kids. When the concierge at Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa suggested swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cove Jamaica, all of my fears were eclipsed by the excitement of interacting with these beautiful creatures.
GETTING THERE, GETTING READY
Transportation was arranged for us as part of the excursion for the approximately one-hour drive to Dolphin Cove Negril. On the way we had a chance to see some of Montego Bay and the Jamaican coastline as well as hear some information from our driver and ask questions.
When we arrived at Dolphin Cove there was a quick sign-in at the front desk before we were ushered to the changing rooms. While wearing swimsuits and cover-ups to Dolphin Cove is easiest, do bring a change of clothes for the ride back to avoid getting the bus wet.
SWIM WITH STINGRAYS & DOLPHINS
Our first stop was to visit the stingrays. A single stingray is brought out and the trainer shares some information about the species while allowing visitors to touch and take pictures with it. This allowed my younger son to get in waist-deep water in a very controlled environment and meet a new sea animal which developed his confidence for the dolphin swim.
After the stingray meet-up, we went to a covered seating area for our scheduled dolphin swim. Lockers are available in this area for $5 or you can leave your items in cubbies under the benches because no cameras, sunglasses, or other belongings can be brought along during the swim.
We had brought my younger son’s life jacket along and were told it was fine for him to wear it. The rest of us were fitted for life jackets before sitting down for an introduction to the swim. They asked about swimming levels, and when I told them my younger son was more of a floater than a swimmer, they responded in true Jamaican fashion, “No problem, mon!”
The swim itself was great fun! We were in the water approximately 20 minutes with the dolphin. There were eight people in our group, and we divided into two teams of four. The dolphin swam by us several times as we “pet” it and also performed tricks including a dance, singing, and some tail splashes.
My younger son was most excited for the dolphin “kiss” but declared up front that he did not want to do the belly swim. The trainers were great to work with and sent my husband and older son out for the belly swim first, then allowed me to trade off and swim out for my ride. They even offered to let my younger son ride on one of our backs as the dolphin pulled us, but he was satisfied with what he had done already.
PIRATES & SHARKS…YIKES!
My boys and I thought the pinnacle of our trip had occurred at this point, but little did we know that the excursion was about to get even more exciting. We went to the pirate show and shark encounter. The show itself is a light-hearted, slapstick routine.
After the short show, the audience is invited to get in the water with the two trained nurse sharks for an additional fee. My husband lit up like a kid in a candy shop! My older son and husband jumped at the opportunity and were quickly in the water touching and even holding a shark. Much to my surprise, my younger son decided to try it and held the shark on his own, too!
AND A CAMEL, TOO
Our last bit of animal excitement was a ride on a camel with the beautiful Caribbean Sea as our backdrop. Because, why wouldn’t you ride a camel in Jamaica?!
To wrap up our day in Dolphin Cove Jamaica we spent some time in the gift shop where you can purchase DVDs and pictures on CD of your dolphin swim (the pictures included here are from that CD), t-shirts, and other souvenir items. The ride back was much more subdued as my troop was worn out from a fun-filled day.
All of us agreed that we would love to swim with dolphins again, especially when my younger son gains more swimming skills. In fact, we would probably enjoy trying the “Ultimate Swim” which is a swim with two dolphins that includes a dorsal pull and a foot push. Whichever dolphin experience you choose, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Dolphin Cove Jamaica!
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.