Tag Archives: Dolphins

D is for Dolphins

DI grew up watching Flipper as a kid, so dolphins have always been special to me and getting in the water with them was an experience of a lifetime for me. There are many places where you can swim with dolphins; however, after talking to some people who did this in other areas, I am very grateful that my experience was at Aquario Cayo Naranjo in Cuba’s Holguin Province. Not only did we get the chance to swim with dolphins, but all our drinks, lunch and two shows were included. Several pools give different types of dolphin experiences. For most, you have to wear a life jacket, but the largest pool is partially on a sandbar with water that is about waist-deep (or a little more for me, since I’m short), so no life jacket was required.

We started our swim by being introduced to two lovely ladies – Brenda and Doris – and we were told about the ten-month old baby that was peacefully swimming around.  We would not have actual contact with the baby and told to ignore her completely, so I was surprised when she swam up to me and around my legs – a lot like one of my cats! Our group of thirteen people, divided into two groups – each group would interact with one of the dolphins. My group’s dolphin was Doris, who first went to each person and gave us a kiss.

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Then, we got to touch and pet her. She would swim up to our group and, as soon as anyone touched her, she would roll over onto her back – I think she liked her belly rubbed! The trainer then invited us to open her mouth. I thought that was weird, but after a bit, we each did it and she again seemed to like it.

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Then we, as a group, picked her up out of the water – I held her nose and the back of her head.

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At one point, she “head-butted me” in a very similar way one of my cats does. The last piece was for each of us to get kisses by both.  Most people in the group were with someone, so they went together, but since I was solo, both dolphins kissed me at once. We had quite a moment together. When the trainer finally got them to swim back to him, I was sad to let them go. Or was it the splash of their tales that give me such a look!

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Antilla Cuba and swimming with the dolphins

Antilla, Cuba is a small village on the coast of Cuba. For me, this was going to be an exciting day filled with wonder. I had a very special tour arranged that day, so everyone in tours met in the lounge and got our bus assignments. Then we headed off to load into the tender boats that would carry us to shore.  There is not much at this post – just a place to dock a couple of the tenders. A group of locals who were playing Cuban music and dancing greeted us as we docked in Antilla.

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I just had to find Bus number 13 – seemed 13 was the number of the day.  My cabin on the ship was 3113, our bus was 13 and there were 13 people going on this tour. One of the tours for this stop went to Fidel Castro’s family farm and village, another one went to another family farm, and a third was the Paradise Party day. However, our tour was different – we were going to swim with dolphins!

Antilla is a very small, run-down community.  There is a lot of hurricane damage and little money to fix what things. As we drove through the countryside of Holguin Province, we learned about the different types of farms, including sugar care, bananas, and mangoes, etc. we passed many modes of transport – classic cars and trucks, horse or oxen-drawn carts, bikes, transport trucks, and pretty much anything you could think of to help some get from one place to another.

Restaurant in Antilla, Cuba
Restaurant in Antilla, Cuba

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After about an hour’s drive, we finally made it to the place where we caught a boat to take us to the dolphinarium.  It is a complex built in the middle of the bay on several small islands. It has several different “pools” with a couple dolphins in each one, a restaurant, gift shop, a bar and two areas for different types of shows – a sea lion show and a dolphin show.

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We were offered drinks as we arrived – mine was a rainbow concoction with rum – and I’m not sure what else!

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The first show we saw was the sea lion show. .

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Then we saw a dolphin show.  Everyone was staring to get excited – we really wanted our turns to engage with the dolphins


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Everyone there divided into smaller groups.  Most were putting on life jackets to get into the deeper pools, but my group went to a shallow pool where we did need the life jackets. It was larger than the other pools and felt like its own little island. On the way, we saw a species of crocodile that is native to Cuba. They had professional photographers on hand to take pictures – and our guide took care of our cameras to take pictures for us.  With that, we got into the water with our dolphins and their trainer. There were three dolphins in our pool – two ten-year-old sisters, Brenda and Doris, and a 10-month old baby that we really did not interact with, although she did swim up to me a few times – I think I’m the only one as no one else mentioned any interaction with her. We then interacted with Brenda and Doris.  Each of us got a single kiss, and then we petted and held one of the dolphins. Their skin is like silk – and Doris really like her belly rubbed! Next was the chance for each of us to get a kiss from both dolphins at once! All I can say is this was amazing. I seemed to get extra attention from the dolphins – the trainer was having trouble getting them to come to him! There are no words to describe how I felt during this experience – I had a dolphin on either side and the baby swimming around my legs!

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After that, we had a bit of a break.  Some people took the opportunity to try a trick with a dolphin where they would lift you out of the water with their noses, but I decided to just sit and think about what it was like to swim with them – it was a lot to experience. We had lunch – lobster, shrimp and fish with rice, salad and fruit – before sailing off from the dolphinarium.

We then headed to a craft market and beach before heading back to the ship.

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Another perfect day in paradise!