a very special experience when you are able to touch dolphins and stringrays
Visitors can touch, play and swim with the dolphins. Dolphin programs start at 9.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 1.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. Reservations are necessary to participate but not if you only mean to watch. An exciting nature hike is offered. See parrots, native snakes, turtles, iguanas and don't miss the shark pool. Their cheerful restaurant offers buffet lunch
This magnificent property has a natural cove which is surrounded by 5 acres of lush tropical rain forest. Visitors have the opportunity to interact and "Swim With" dolphins, enjoying the thrill and love of these amazing lovable animals. Visitors can also swim with, hold, feed and learn about the evolutionary secrets of the Caribbean sharks. Visitors can capture their dream of being a dolphin trainer by taking the challenge of being “Sea Keeper” for the day.
Dolphin Cove is the place to spend the day enjoying lots of fun activities. There is something for everyone. Entrance includes and allows guests the following activities as often as they wish. Guests can captain their own mini-boats and explore the coast, interact and snorkel with stingrays, take a glass-bottom kayak ride to explore the fascinating underwater world, watch our hilarious Shark Show and interact with exotic birds, snakes and iguanas on the Jungle Trail walk.
Near to Dunn’s River Falls, and vying with them for the title of most visited attraction in Ocho Rios, is Dolphin Cove. The main attraction here is both pretty unique and very expensive – swimming with dolphins. But this isn’t the only draw, and Dolphin Cove bills itself quite justifiably as offering a whole day out for all the family (albeit at a price). We came just for a morning however, and managed to pack a fair bit into a few hours. In this tip I focus on the main draw, the dolphins themselves.
Entrance fees vary according to what you want to do. You can choose from:
Entry only – this costs US$45 (adults) and covers interacting with stingrays; glass-bottom kayaking; snorkelling; shark show; the Jungle Trail (where you view and interact with iguanas and various birds such as macaws and parakeets); access to the beach and to the observation deck; plus various shops and restaurants.
“Touch Encounter” – all the above plus a chance to stand knee-deep in the water to pet the dolphins.
“Encounter Swim” – the standard attractions plus a chance to interact with one dolphin while swimming in the deep.
“Dolphin Swim” – as above but with two dolphins including a dorsal pul – the “ultimate” dolphin experience.
If you pay the simple entry only fee and then decide you’d like one of the dolphin encounters you can upgrade on the spot – although many of the encounters are booked up well in advance so you may be unlucky. If you know you want to do one, you can pre-book on the website to be sure of getting the opportunity.
We weren’t sure whether or not we wanted to swim with the dolphins, so to start with opted for the entry only option. I spent some time being tempted into an upgrade to a swim (most people reckon the touch encounter is disappointing) but in the end decided against it. There were two reasons for this. One was the cost, which was high (US$200 for the Encounter Swim, US$250 for the Dolphin Swim); the other was a degree of discomfort I felt when watching the proceedings – there seemed to be a conveyor belt of swimmers, and the dolphins made a series of circuits with a different person hanging on each time. If that is an encounter it is very much a brief one! Our fellow guest at the Blue House, Michael, was equally disappointed with what he saw, but I've since learned that he went back later on his trip and had a VIP experience which he loved. I'll let him take up the story from here:
"I had a "life dream": to swim with dolphins. At Dolphin Cove tourists can swim "with the dolphins". I watched this and was really disappointed. Large groups of pleasure-seeking tourists line up in a row; two dolphins go past and pull each for just a few metres, then move on to the next one. It looked to me like queuing for a short ride on a jet ski. All this for US$250.
I told Elise of my impression and that I therefore didn't want to do this. Some days later she told me that she’d spoken with the owner of Dolphin Cove and had arranged something special for me. On a day when there was no cruise ship in town, Daryl took me to Dolphin Cove. THEN A DREAM CAME TRUE. With only the trainer as companion I could swim for 30 minutes with "Misty" and "Pepe" – touch, hold and play completely at ease with them. It was one of the most touching experiences of my life."
[Paraphrased from Michael's Trip Advisor review with his permission; photos 3-5 are also his and again reproduced here with permission]
More on Dolphin Cove in next tip
Even if like us you choose not to “splash out” (geddit?) on a dolphin encounter, there is lots more to do at Dolphin Cove. I enjoyed getting up close to a stingray (see photo 5), as well as to the iguanas and parakeets on the so-called “Jungle Trail”. There was one disappointment there though; the website shows a picture of someone with a snake draped round their neck and I was looking forward to a similar experience as I have a strange liking for these animals, but we were told they no longer allow this as it was disturbing the snakes – fair enough!
There are also some better than average crafts for sale, plus swimwear etc (I bought some nice flip-flops) and souvenir items. There’s a bar with great views of the bay, a coffee shop serving Blue Mountain coffee and a café where we enjoyed nice fruit juices and a snack of potato wedges.
By the way, if you have kids there is a lot they would enjoy here, but I did see one little boy crying as he was so afraid of the “pirates” who roam the boardwalk and are quite effective in their fierceness!
While in Jamiaca you should check this place out. We went there as it was part of our excursion. IT is right across from the entrance to Dunn's River Falls. There is plenty to do here. You walk in and there is a gift shop and a place to get something to eat or drink. YOu will see pretty birds and animals. Some of the things you can do is look at the Dolphins. You can even have a swim with them. We didnt as it was very expensive. There is Sharks and a Barracuda right where you come in. You can choose to walk the jungle trail which we did. The only thing is someone who works there decided they would be our guide and show us all the animals. My husband got to hold a snake. We saw birds, iguanas, donkeys, a goat and some other things. At the end the guide of course held out his hand for a tip. The place is also pirate themed. When we came out from the hike we saw a pirate village and a nice beach. The pirate village had gift shops and a place to eat as well. There is also a bar there with some umbrellas and a place to sit and relax in the sun. Kids were playing in the ocean. Its a nice place to visit when you want to experience the beach with little or no time in Jamaica.
Dolphins Cove is made from a natural cove so the dolphins are in pure ocean water. While sitting on the deck were you take off your shoes and put on the life vest, if you look over the edge you will see many tropical fish and corals. This is a large tidal cove, they cleared the bottom of all sharp rocks but the rest is natural. There is a nature walk to go on before or after your swim with many type of creature for the kids.
These dolphins were so gentle and friendly. They were not happy until you kissed them and rubbed their bellies. You get about 5 minutes alone with the dolphins the rest of the time is the dolphins and the group doing tricks.
Dolphins Cove has to be the most wonderful this we have ever done. Dolphins Cove takes extremely good care of these dolphins. They are perfect, no scratches, healthy skin, very friendly and gentle for a 900 pound dolphin. The day we were there the dolphins just had a baby the day before and were a little
pre-occupied, but still gave us a wonderful show. No cameras are promitted in the encounter area. They take a movie of you while your with the dolphins and it is for sale later and you can buy photos of your selection right there. You will never forget this swim, ever!