“ Dolphin Discovery is located in the privileged paradise of Isla Mujeres, in the Mexican Caribbean only 20 minutes on boat from Playa Tortugas, in the Hotel Zone of Cancun . Our location consists of a 10,000m2 ocean area, framed by palm trees, white sand and a wide extension of turquoise waters. In few words, it is a place taken from a dream to make your swim with dolphins experience as perfect as you ever imagined. „
On a recent holiday to Cancun, I found myself being offered a variety of excursions in the welcome meeting by Thomson. An obvious pre-decided choice was swimming with dolphins.
I had never swum with dolphins before and it was something I had always wanted to do. So keeping in mind it would be costly my friend and I signed up.
Through the tour operator this cost us £100 each, approx. This was for an introduction, an hour swimming, and transport over to the Isla Mujeres. The company running the excursion was Dolphin Discovery.
However, this did not include transport to the base on the mainland from where you catch the ferry. We were advised to take a taxi on the short ride, but this is a more expensive way to travel. The bus service in Cancun is great and goes from one end of the resort to the other, on one main road. You can't really get lost and this does save you some money. The buses are safe and the local's friendly, on the way home; we did get a bus, and enjoyed every minute of a local man standing at the front with some music singing his heart out.
So when we got out of the cab, we made our way to the entrance, got our wrist bands and boarded the next available boat. The journey was nice and the waters calm, the boat and dock is on the lagoon side of Cancun, so you make your way along the lagoon, out in to the Caribbean and then across to the Isle of Murjles.
The boat ride takes a total of about 30 minutes, but only about 15 minutes across to the Isla Mujeres, I am not a fan of boats but due to the lagoon being none tidal and the Isla Mujeres stopping too many waves between itself and Cancun, the boat ride was smooth and very bearable.
The site where Dolphin Discovery is, has swimming pools and shade, sun bathing areas, lockers and toilets. There is of course the main pool area, which is in the sea, it is part of the sea that has been fenced off, and although it is a fair size I was surprised at the number of dolphins actually in the pool. There are a few more smaller pools attached where sick dolphins and dolphins due to give birth or have given birth are kept away from the others. There is also a pool attached containing sharks and rays.
The packages offered:
Dolphin Royal Swim
Dolphin Swim Adventure
Sea Life Discovery Plus
We opted for the Dolphin Royal Swim - this is advertised at $149, it is an hour of fun that contains interaction with the dolphins and individual contact.
We were put in a group of 8, me and my friend, an English couple, an American couple and two American teenagers (they were full of laughs - not!)
The adventure started with us having our induction, getting on our life jackets and being told what each signal means (I had forgotten them all by the time we reached the pool but don't worry they do tell you again).
We walked down the stairs in to the water and on to a walk way that made us waist high in the sea. If you walked off the walk way you would be in the open water in the pool. The walk way was approximately a meter in width.
One warning: there will be fish - it is the Caribbean Sea after all. A few members of my group, not including myself proceeded to freak out at the fish touching them.
In the hour all 8 of us enjoyed:
A foot push
A dorsal tow
And much more.
Dolphin Discovery advertise this option as having free time with the dolphins, this isn't really the case, when you are introduced you can stroke them and rub their tummies but you can't freely swim with them. I found this disappointing and felt the hour fly past, it was almost rushed, it would have been nice if it were more relaxed.
I really enjoyed the whole experience and will never forget it. The miserable American teenagers were brother and sister, the sister was obviously the one who wanted to do it and the brother was forced in to it. They didn't bring the group down, we were all just mocking them - who could be miserable about swimming with dolphins?
After the session, we went to a viewing room and watched the video that had just been filmed, they had also taken photographs. This is the sales pitch - who isn't going to buy them?
The photographs were in packs or you could buy them individually, each photo worked out at £8 or you could buy the pack of 5 for 35-£40. I decided on buying the photo's but was unsure about the DVD, had I been a couple then 2 of you in it would have been more reasonable to ask for £65 for s DVD. But as a single I was not prepared to pay this.
We opted not to buy it, I know I should not promote privacy, and this isn't really they should have copyrighted the DVD but the English couple bought it, and sent us a copy each. Result.
I would have no problem paying for it but not that much that is daylight robbery. Like I predicted when we were deciding on whether or not to buy it, I have watched it about 5 times since I have been back, and that was showing other people. It has been a year, perhaps I should get it out again.
There are six Dolphin Discovery centres in Mexico and I think they are worth a visit if you have never been. Even if I expected more the experience was amazing and utterly unforgettable. The staff were friendly and made you enjoy things even more, if for some reason your dolphin didn't do something you would be allowed another go.
The Dolphin Swim Adventure is less money and also shorter with fewer activities involved. The Dolphin Encounter is another service available at a lesser cost but again isn't as exciting. If you are going to do it then go for the Royal Swim or the more expensive more adventurous Sea Life Discovery Plus. We would have done this if we could have afforded it, it works out at approx £200 per person.
After your dolphin swim you can stay on the island and catch some rays or head back on the boat.