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2004-08-17 15:57:07

Swim With the Dolphins

There are several ways to enjoy visiting with dolphins in the Bahamas.

Are you a fan of Flipper? Did you ever wonder what it would be like to share the ocean with a huge, friendly, finny creature? Well, on some of the islands in the Caribbean, you can do just that!

Dolphin encounters are rapidly becoming a very popular activity in parts of the Caribbean. Several sites in the Bahamas now offer these exciting experiences at reasonable cost and for varying swimming abilities. Most people who enjoy these encounters report that they are highly rewarding and leave them with a new sense of joy and respect for these dynamic, beautiful, and highly intelligent animals.

There are several ways to enjoy visiting with dolphins in the Bahamas. You don't have to be an excellent swimmer; there are programs available for all levels of ability. On Blue Lagoon Island, just 20 minutes from Paradise Island, Nassau, you can get your feet wet with Dolphin Encounters. These programs are available for all ages. The friendly bottlenose dolphins will be slowly introduced to you via an educational program that will increase your awareness of the wild dolphins' situation, their anatomy, and natural history. Dolphin Encounters hopes to increase awareness of the importance of these creatures by allowing humans and dolphins to interact in close quarters. Three levels of experience can be enjoyed.

For those not confident enough to venture into deep water and actually swim with the dolphins, try out The Close Encounter. Participants enjoy a short 20 minute ride to Blue Lagoon Island, an informative lecture, an introductory period when humans and dolphins become familiar with one another, and an actual encounter (including touching) in shallow water with the bottlenose dolphins. The entire experience takes about three hours.

For those willing to actually swim with the dolphins, the next step is Swim With the Dolphins, an actual in-the-open-water swimming event that allows you to become one with these wonderful creatures. Transportation and orientation are provided so that you can interact successfully and have a totally enjoyable experience.

The most advanced adventure is a full-day session in the Assistant Trainer Program. Including a Close Encounter experience, the participant in this program learns and performs all the tasks of the assistant trainer at the facility. At the end of the day, you are certified as an assistant trainer.

Another well-known source of dolphin swims, dolphin encounters, and scuba with dolphins is UNEXSO on Grand Bahama. You'll find a range of options here, too, from Dolphin Swims, Dolphin Close Encounters, the Ultimate Dolphin Experience, which includes open ocean experience, to the Dolphin Dive, where you actually scuba dive with the dolphins. UNEXSO has been around a long time and is well-known for its dolphin events.

For those looking for a more intense, long-lasting adventure, the island of Bimini hosts Divine Awakenings, an enterprise offering snorkeling experiences with wild dolphins while on their live-aboard boats. Bimini is the closest Bahama island to the United States and is a short flight from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, Florida. There are lots of other things to do on Bimini, but these are dolphin encounters supreme!

For those who like the idea of Bimini's proximity to the United States, there are other companies offering shorter visits with the Bimini spotted dolphins. Half-day trips are offered by Bimini Undersea to seek out the spotted dolphins which frequent the waters around Bimini. If you'd like to round out your visit to Bimini by enjoying its other attractions, Bimini Undersea has lots of information about Bimini (actually two islands) on their site.

If you want to range a bit farther afield, you'll find many more dolphin encounters and dolphin swims in the Caribbean. Costa Rica has opportunities for dolphin encounters with The Divine Dolphin. In Curacao, Dolphin Academy also offers a complete range of encounters.

William Todd, Caribbean For Visitors

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