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Quick Getaway – Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like to swim alongside a bottlenose dolphin in their natural habitat? Imagine you and your new pal gliding through the warm waters of the lagoon together, swimming in circles around one another. And when you reach out and touch his flipper, you’d have a moment of disbelief. Could this actually be happening or are you dreaming?

For some it may only ever be a dream, but for those who visit Theater of the Sea in the Florida Keys, that dream can become a reality. Read about my quick getaway, Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys and what travel ideas I have to share for you.

My Swim with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Swimming with Dolphins in the Keys

In our estimation, swimming with dolphins in the Keys should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is something absolutely magical about an up-close-and-personal encounter with such an intelligent creature. It’s no wonder dolphins have mesmerized human beings with their playful and friendly antics over the years.

The great thing about Theater of the Sea is that it offers various programs to match the needs of the individual, no matter their age or swimming ability. Whether you’re 6 or 96, you’re sure to find a dolphin encounter that’s just right for you.

Some of the dolphin programs offered at Theater of the Sea are:

Meet the Dolphins

This is the perfect interaction for very young visitors or for those who aren’t comfortable in the water. From a floating dock you will have the opportunity to touch and interact with the dolphins while a trainer guides the dolphins through a series of tricks. You’ll be able to get a kiss from your new friend and watch as they retrieve their toys located all around the lagoon.

Meet the Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Dolphin Encounter Program

This program is appropriate for kids as young as 3 and up to age 7 with a parent or guardian participation. Because this program only includes wading in shallow water, this is also great for any senior citizens who are not comfortable with a full swim encounter.

You’ll get some memorable one-on-one time with your new pals. You may get a chance to hug and kiss a dolphin, rub their belly, and of course take many selfies of you and your new BFF together for your Facebook page.

Swim with Dolphins Program

This is the one you’ve been waiting for –  the program that makes your dream come entirely true. The ‘swim with dolphins’ program provides you with a rare opportunity to experience a magical animal in its own habitat.

You must be a good swimmer for this program, as sections of the lagoon are 20 feet deep. You should also be comfortable swimming with a snorkel so you can dive underwater side-by-side with the dolphins – a thrill you will never forget.

Not only will you get to swim with dolphins, but you’ll also get to participate in getting them to do some tricks, and also experience a dorsal tow and foot push. You’ll feel like you’re flying through the water!

Whichever program you choose, you and your loved ones are sure to make memories that last a lifetime.

Snorkeling with Dolphins in Islamorada Keys

Theater of the Sea

Theater of the Sea is special for many different reasons. Because of its proximity to Miami and Key West (it’s a1 and ½ hour drive from Miami and a 2-hour drive from Key West), it makes the perfect day trip for visitors to those famous destinations.

Something else that sets this wild life park apart is its attention to detail. The landscaping is lush and beautiful, and the minute you step foot inside the park, you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical paradise. And maybe you have!

Also, Theater of the Sea is smaller than other sea life parks, and because of this, it has a more intimate and personal feel to it. The quaint size also lets you see everything you want to see in a single day, and your little ones don’t get tired having to walk as far to all of the different shows and attractions.

Finally, and perhaps the most special thing about Theater of the Sea, is that the sea life enclosures are organic and part of the landscape. You won’t find typical glass enclosures between you and the animals. You might find yourself strolling along when you suddenly spot the turtle lagoon just feet from you, surrounded by lush vegetation.

Pelican Cove Hotel Islamorada FL
Pelican Cove Hotel Islamorada FL

Getting Around the Keys

The Florida Keys are a beautiful chain of islands that extend out like a tendril, forming one, narrow band. Visitors have a few different options as far as getting from one island to the next.

If you’ve driven to Florida or rented a car from Miami or Ft Lauderdale airports, your easiest bet is to drive on Highway 1. Having said this, the bridges between islands also have pedestrian and bike routes, so if one were in shape, one could also hoof or peddle it around the Keys.

To make it very easy for visitors, there are some shuttle services that operate between the mainland and the Florida Keys, such as Greyhound and the Key West Shuttle. These also serve as a sort of bus service between the islands. Dolphin World does provide a van service from Key West or Marathon to Islamorada, for those who are traveling to the lower keys and need some transportation help.

And finally, consider chartering or renting a boat and spend the day island hopping. The Keys offers you a variety of boating facilities, from modest boat slips to full service marinas. If this interests you, be advised that reservations are recommended and sometimes required.

There are a lot of terrific places to stay in the Keys, but our personal favorite is Pelican Resort Cove. Recently renovated, the resort is located on Islamorada, and just a stone’s throw away from Theater of the Sea. This beautiful ocean-front resort offers visitors salt-water breezes, pristine beaches and a friendly island vibe.

After a full day of sightseeing, you and your crew will most likely be very hungry and will no doubt want to chow down on a delicious seafood dinner. You are, after all, in the Florida Keys. We recommend heading to The Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant not far from the resort. Feel like fish tacos? They’ve got them. Maybe you’re in the mood for raw oysters? Yep, they’ve got those, too. Chances are, if it once swam in the ocean, they can serve it to you anyway you like it.

After dinner, take a sunset stroll down to Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar for a nightcap. They don’t call this place the pulse of Islamorada for nothing!

You could do just about anything on the island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys and it would be pretty special and memorable. But swimming with dolphins… that’s nothing short of a dream come true.

Insider Secrets

We would enjoy to hear any of our reader’s insider secrets, if any of you have traveled to the Key Largo/Islamorada area and want to share some of your travel experiences there. For example, Where did you stay and how did you like it? Did you find any interesting restaurants or attractions that you enjoyed and want to write about? How did the locals treat you? Please share your experiences below in the comment section. Our community of avid travelers and dolphin lovers would like to hear what you did and your travel advice.


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Bonding Time with the Clown of the Sea!

Swim with the Sea Lion

Sea lions are some of the most graceful sea creatures in the water and possibly one of the funniest on land. At the facility in the Florida Keys however you get to experience the majesty and friendship that the sea lion offers in one of the most intimate and playful settings you will ever experience. There are few animals that can be considered as playful, funny, and majestic as the sea lion.

Sea Lions in the Florida Keys
Sea Lions in the Florida Keys

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Educational Orientation . . . Wait for it!

During the sea lion encounter you are led into the arena where a trainer is waiting to meet you. There the trainer will educate you on a few fun facts about the sea lion so you can better understand and connect with the beautiful animal you are about to bond with. At this point some people might get a little anxious and want to know where the sea lion is and the trainer will then motion to the entrance and there will come the cutest and funniest animal you will ever see on land.

Clown of the Sea
Clown of the Sea

Enter! Creature of the hour!

The sea lion will waddle out and jump into the natural salt water lagoon and meet you, its nose and mane poised proudly. He will raise one of its flippers to greet you and bob its head in acknowledgment of your new friendship. He will mimic your actions, in a taunting and playful manner, which really will justify his reputation of being the clown of the sea. Then he will slip into the water and the real fun will begin.

Sea Lion Hug in the Florida Keys
Sea Lion Hug in the Florida Keys

From Cute and Clumsy to Majestic Master

The sea lion glides into the water with a majesty that almost takes you by surprise after seeing him waddle on his front flippers on land. As you sit on the edge the graceful mammal will come and put its flipper on your lap in a kind of comforting way. He acknowledges you two are friends now and the question he is asking is, “Why aren’t you playing with me?” There is a comfort in having that giant flipper pet your knees, as if consoling a child; a very human and kind gesture. If that doesn’t coax you into playing, his head will pop up out of the cool clear water and rest on your lap. His whiskers will twitch and his eyes will look into yours in a pleading and hopeful way.

You will then have the opportunity to play ball with him and watch him perform tricks. As his tricks are performed he will expect you to feed him. You will receive food and be able to feed that gentle giant and you will more than likely receive a smile and a hug in return . . . or he may just be sniffing you to see if you are stashing anymore food on your person.

Book Your Florida Keys Sea Lion Programs >>

Swim with the Sea Lion

The opportunity to swim with him will also present itself and of course he will naturally want you to join him for a playful swim though if you will look as graceful as him, is a totally different story! Good thing he is understands that you two are friends and won’t judge his audience on their grace, or lack thereof.

As the meeting with the sea lion comes to an end he will look sad. There is a personality that comes from these animals and you will know they are not happy to see you go. They will give you a hug and a kiss and wave good bye with that giant flipper of his and wait for your next visit!

Swim with the Sea Lion
Swim with the Sea Lion
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Dolphins and Snorkeling near Key Largo Marine Sanctuary!

Dolphins and Snorkeling

Just a short drive from Miami is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park with America’s only living coral reef. It is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its success in protecting and conserving its natural resources. This is the jewel of the Florida Keys because of its live coral reef.

When you visit the sanctuary you visit America’s first underwater preserve. The live coral reef and abundance of sea life is truly breathtaking and unique. When you ride in the boat with the glass bottom, you can see the coral reef up close and admire its beauty.  Also, the Florida Keys is one of the few places where you have Dolphins and Snorkeling in one place.

Video of the Snorkel Boat We Use – Get a Taste of What You Will See

Dolphins and Snorkeling in One Day

Many visitors want to snorkel and swim with the dolphins while in the Florida Keys, well, you can do this with Dolphin World. We offer the 1 Day Dolphin Swim Mini Workshop where you can do both fun filled activities.  It will be a full day where half of the day you will get the 30 minute dolphin swim in Islamorada.  During your 30 minutes, you will get to know your bottlenose dolphin where you get to pet, play and swim with them in deep water. This experience will entail a  snorkel and free swim with them in an all natural salt water lagoon.   Included in your day, you can snorkel in John Pennekamp Coral Reef park in Key Largo.  Your experienced boat captain will take you and your family to the best spots of the reef to explore all the wonders of the colorful tropical fish and coral structures.

Florida Keys Dolphin Encounter


Attractions of the Greenery and Animal Life

When you visit the marine sanctuary you will get to explore the nature trails with the lush greenery, walk the beautiful sandy beaches, and admire and learn about the abundant wildlife that inhabit the state park. The beautiful blue water gives you the perfect window to view the fish and coral reef in its natural habitat.

You get to scuba dive with the fish and get up close and personal with the only live coral reef in America along with all the beautiful fish. There is a rainbow of life under the water waiting for you to explore it. The beauty and peace felt when faced with such a unique and majestic sight is truly unlike anything you will ever experience. There is the beauty and peace felt when in paradise and then there’s the beauty and peace you feel when in a totally different world, away from the world and sound of land life.

Book Your Florida Keys 1 Day Dolphin/Snorkel Program >>

The Christ of the Abyss

Below 25 feet of turquoise water stands a nine foot bronze statue of the Christ of the Abyss, an exact replica of which rests in the Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by living coral reef formations and highlights the miracle of America’s only living coral reef. When you scuba dive you can get up close and see the entire ecosystem that has grown onto the statue. The beauty of the adaptation of the organism is truly breathtaking.

Florida Keys Snorkeling

Miles of Beauty and Paradise

The sanctuary covers 2800 square nautical miles of the waters throughout the Florida Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean. There are coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove swamps that adorn the sanctuary waters. There is an infinite amount of wildlife that coexist and live in this giant span of water. The fish, birds, marine life, and land animals that grow and inhabit the lush greenery and water are numberless and beautiful.

The sanctuary is open year around and offers the visitors an experience unlike any other. The park has two man made beaches, kayaking and boat rentals, nature trails and 47 camping sites. You get a chance to experience the park on many different levels and in so many different ways you don’t miss a thing. You get to experience the nature and wildlife of so many different environments there is no park that can match the beauty and intimacy you experience at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

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Enjoy Swimming with the Dolphins in the Florida Keys

Enjoy Swimming with the Dolphins in the Florida Keys

There’s just something totally unique about the Florida Keys. People there move at a slower pace and to the beat of their own drummer. The scenery is stunning and the turquoise waters are some of the clearest and most inviting on the planet. Once you experience the Keys for yourself, you’ll forever belong to a special club of people who have truly tasted life firsthand. And if you want to taste excitement firsthand, then you’ll enjoy swimming with the dolphins in the Florida Keys.

Enjoy Swimming with the Dolphins in the Florida Keys
Enjoy Swimming with the Dolphins in the Florida Keys

A Video Tour of Theater of the Sea, Florida Keys

Spend a Memorable Day at Theater of the Sea

Theater of the Sea is one of the coolest destinations on the planet. The facility has two goals always: to provide a safe and nurturing home to many creatures of the sea, and to inspire awareness and sensitivity toward animals in all of the visitors that pass through each year.

Family owned and operated since 1946, Theater of the Sea is the second oldest mammal facility in the United States and one of the oldest in the entire world. Once you get your first glimpse of the lagoons your breath will be taken away. Lush, tropical gardens surround crystal clear pools where dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles and vibrant fish swim and play. It is the epitome of paradise.

Plus, Theater of the Sea is a pioneer in sea animal interactive programs, which means you’ll get to get up close and personal with some of the most amazing creatures on the planet and learn all about them while having the time of your life.

Book Your Florida Keys Dolphin Swim Online Now >>>

Things to do in the Key Largo Area

Theater of the Sea’s Swim with Sea Lions program is a totally cool and a unique way to interact with these adorable and charming puppies of the sea, as they’re often called. Spend time in their natural salt water habitat and get a hug and kiss. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim with sharks and stingrays – if you dare!

There are also many exciting activities outside of the park. For instance, if you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, then you’ll want to head to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Established in 1963, the park was the first undersea park in the entire United States.  The seascape is a mix of seagrass beds and mangrove swamps as well as beautiful coral reefs. The park, which is undoubtedly the most stunning and diverse of all living communities, serves to preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wanna Swim with Dolphins in Key Largo Area?

Swimming with Dolphins at Theater of the Sea
Swimming with Dolphins at Theater of the Sea

You can’t come to the Florida Keys and NOT swim with dolphins! That’s like going to Madi Gras and not getting any beads! The Theater of the Sea’s dolphin programs get you up close and personal so you can interact with dolphins in their natural lagoon habitat. You’ll be thrilled to get a hug and kiss and experience dorsal tows and foot pushes!

Sshh… did you hear that? That was the Florida Keys calling. They want you to come for a visit and let your hair down. And we mean it when we say a day spent at Theater of the Sea is a day you’ll remember for years to come.


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5 Fun Facts about Sea Lions

7 different species

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t think sea lions were pretty adorable. With their long whiskers, winged feet and funny little shuffle-walk, they are one of the most unique creatures on the planet. But there are many things people don’t know about sea lions. For instance, they’re highly intelligent. In fact the US Navy has trained sea lions to help protect the waters off the coast of California from terrorist activity. Sea lions were actually used during the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqui Freedom.
Here are 5 other fun facts about sea lions you may not know.

Bulls and Cows and Pups, Oh My!

Male sea lions are called bulls, females are called cows and their babies are called pups. Sea lions are very social creatures and live in large groups called colonies or pods. These colonies can consist of thousands of sea lions all living in relative harmony, with a few skirmishes here and there.

A Cute Sea Lion Pup
A Cute Sea Lion Pup

And the Gold Medal Goes to…

Despite how oddly-shaped they are, sea lions are actually fantastic athletes able to complete rather astounding physical feats. For instance, they can dive to depths of 800 feet in order to find food. And, although they’re air breathers, they can remain under water for up to 30 minutes and can swim at a top speed of 25 miles an hour. Look out Michael Phelps.

5 Fun Fact about Sea Lions - They dive down deep
5 Fun Fact about Sea Lions – They dive down deep

There are 7 Different Species

There are 7 different species of sea lion found in the waters all around the world. There is the Steller sea lion, also known as the northern sea lion and found in the North Pacific Ocean. The Steller sea lion is the largest of all the species. Next is the South American sea lion found along the west coast of South America; the Australian sea lion – which is a small species found along the south and west coasts of Australia; the California sea lion, which is considered the most intelligent of the species; the New Zealand sea lion found around the south island of New Zealand; and finally the Galapagos sea lion found only around the Galapagos islands and thought to be related to the California sea lion.

7 different species
7 different species

Mmm, Mmm, Good

So, what do sea lions eat? Sea lions are carnivores and primarily live on fish. Some of their favorite fish are herring, mackerel, squid and sardines. Although they do have teeth, they tend to be rather piggish and swallow their fish whole.

what do sea lions eat?
what do sea lions eat?

How do they DO That?

We’ve all seen sea lions balance a ball on their nose, but did you ever really wonder how they do that? Well, they’re kind of cheating. You see they don’t actually balance the ball on their nose, they actually balance it using their stiff whiskers – it just looks like it’s on the tip of their nose. Pretty sneaky.

how they do that?
How they do that?

Get Up Close and Personal

Would you like to learn more about these amazing animals and see (or rather sea) them up close? At Ocean World Adventure Park in Cofresi, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, you can swim, play, hug, kiss and feed the sea lions in their natural habitat. It’s an experience like no other you’ve ever had. Here is a video to see the Sea Lion Encounter in Puerto Plata  program. We also offer swimming with the Sea Lions in Miami, Nassau Bahamas, Punta Cana Dominican Republic, Florida Keys, Panama City Beach, Oahu Hawaii, and Cancun Mexico.