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Swim with Dolphins in Florida: Discovery Cove Review

Our Discovery Cove Review – a great place to swim with dolphins in Florida, snorkel in a reef, see tropical birds, and be immersed in nature.

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to Discovery Cove. All opinions are my own. Post includes affiliate links. A click through and/or purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.

Our Discovery Cove Review – A Great Place To Swim With Dolphins In Florida, Snorkel In A Reef, See Tropical Birds, And Be Immersed In Nature.

 

For families looking to swim with dolphins in Florida, spending a day with Discovery Cove in Florida is a great way to do it. Discovery Cove, which is owned by SeaWorld, offers a high-end, all-inclusive resort experience, and guests can choose to swim with bottlenose dolphins as part of the adventure.

discovery cove review

Discovery Cove Review

Travelers interested in visiting Discovery Cove should visit the website early and make a reservation. Unlike admission to theme parks, admission to Discovery Cove is limited (to a little over 1000 people) and needs to be booked in advance. Choose your dates and experience (with or without swimming with the dolphins), and then you’ll see rates and availability.

When you purchase your ticket, you’ll have a few options. You can purchase a regular ticket, which includes access to the resort. Or, you can upgrade to the day at the resort plus the 30-minute dolphin swim, or a day at the resort with trainer for a day experience. You can also purchase a ticket that includes a day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Upgrades are also available. These include upgraded drinks, a private cabana, day bed, and massage. There are also more experiences you can add on, including ray feeding and shark swim.

Arriving at Discovery Cove

Arrive at Discovery Cove as early as possible (check-in starts at 7:30am) to take advantage of the full experience. Parking is free, and there’s also a complimentary shuttle from SeaWorld Orlando. You’ll have a photo taken for your ID badge and will be given your Dolphin experience time at check in. Then, you can head to the lockers and pick up your complimentary rental gear (wetsuit or vest, dolphin-friendly sunscreen, snorkel, and mask).

Food at Discovery Cove

Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style at the Laguna Grill, and are included in the cost of admission. Guests can also get complimentary alcoholic beverages, snacks and drinks throughout the day. The food is pretty average – similar to what you’d get on a cruise ship – but is served quickly and efficiently. Once you’ve eaten and have settled in, you have your choice of activities – from the Explorer’s Aviary, The Grand Reef, Serenity Bay, Wind-away River, and the Freshwater Oasis.

Activities at Discovery Cove

Due to my flight arrival time, I didn’t get to Discovery Cove until lunchtime. My dolphin swim time wasn’t until after 3pm, so I started out at the Grand Reef, where I snorkeled for a bit. The water at the Grand Reef is a little chilly – 77 degrees – but once I was in the water for a few minutes it felt comfortable.

Then, I headed to the Wind-away River, which is similar to a lazy river. After grabbing a float, I headed down the river, under the overhead aviary, and through the park. It’s very slow and relaxing, but does have some big drops, so it’s best for someone comfortable in the water. Guests can also walk through the aviary for a more up-close experience.

After the Wind-away River, I checked out the new Freshwater Oasis, where you can see marmosets and otters. The otters are adorable, but are behind glass. You can, however, swim right up to the glass. The marmosets (a very small monkey) are on an island in the center of the oasis.

The Dolphin Experience at Discovery Cove

At that point, it was time for my dolphin experience. After a brief orientation, I headed to the 72 degree dolphin pool. There were eight of us in the group, and we all had the chance to interact with the dolphin a few times. Underwater cameras aren’t allowed in the water, but photographers are there to take your picture (photo CDs, DVDs, and prints are available for an extra charge). The whole experience takes about 30 minutes, but we actually experienced a thunderstorm during our swim, and had to go back to the cabana and wait it out. I think we ended up getting about 45 minutes total with the dolphins – definitely the full experience despite the rain.

Is Discovery Cove Worth It?

So, is Discovery Cove worth the price? If you want to swim with dolphins in Florida, I’d say definitely. Guests also receive complimentary admission to the other SeaWorld parks in Orlando – Aquatica and SeaWorld (also Busch Gardens Tampa for an additional fee) for a consecutive 14 days, so if those parks are in your plans, it’s a better deal.

To learn more about Discovery Cove, visit their website. Or, check out the reviews on TripAdvisor. You can save $16 on the package with the dolphin swim at Undercover Tourist.

Looking for a hotel? We recommend the nearby Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, which is directly across the street from SeaWorld.

 

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Kristin

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

I'm sure my lil' dude would love to do this when he's a little older!

Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife}

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

That sounds amazing. Swimming with dolphins is definitely on my bucket list!

Kate Marsh Lord

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

Wow! Swimming with dolphins is one of those bucket list type of adventures and it's awesome to learn you can do it right in Orlando. It sounds like a very different sort of experience - non-theme-parky and more high end. Very cool! Thanks for sharing all the great info.

Nicole Feliciano

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

Such a cool experience for families that are nuts about animals.

Molly Gold

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

Jodi I am so excited that you got to experience Discovery Cove! I was blessed to attend in 2011 around its grand opening and am convinced its one of my favorite gems while visiting Orlando. Not at all a theme park type of experience, I found it to be an oasis of something completely unique and unexpected, educational yet entirely relaxing. In my opinion, worth every penny no matter how you choose to navigate your day. Great post!