Dolphin Encounters, Nassau, Bahamas

••• Man swimming with a dolphin at Dolphin Encounters in Nassau, Bahamas. © Clint Brownfield

The Bottom Line

If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, or if you’ve done it and would like to do it again, then head on out to Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island just off Paradise Island in the Bahamas, where there’s a team of smiling dolphins waiting for you. In addition, several California sea lions -- they smile, too -- have been added to the mix and are also waiting to encounter you and your family.

Pros

  • Unique to the Bahamas, Dolphin Encounters has been in business for more than 20 years.
  • Animals are trained using positive reinforcement and seem genuinely happy and well tended to.
  • Private island offers a pristine beach, including swaying palms and complimentary hammocks.
  • Catamaran rides offer great views of Nassau’s historic harbor and Paradise Island.

Cons

  • For a family of four things can get a bit pricey. Check for specials and group rates.
  • Boats run only about four times daily, so you need to time your stay to fit the schedule.
  • Depending on the crowds, things can be a bit regimented in order to keep things moving along.

Description

  • Address: Dolphin Encounters, Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau, Bahamas
  • Phone To book call: 242-363-1003. For group bookings call: 242-363-7167 or 242-363-7168.
  • Prices: $80 per person and up

Guide Review - Dolphin Encounters, Nassau, Bahamas

Boats to Dolphin Encounters leave from the ferry terminal on Paradise Island, and the scenic ride out to Blue Lagoon Island takes about 20-30 minutes. This is a good way to see the sights along the way, including the snazzy homes that line the shores of Paradise Island and the impressive, pink Atlantis Resort looming on the horizon. The double-decker catamarans depart about four times each day, year-round.

After disembarking, visitors are directed to an orientation center where they learn all about the dolphins and sea lions and other sea creatures in and out of captivity. Various eco/conservation trends are explained and information is provided so all of us can be excellent citizen marine conservationists. It is stressed that the animals at Dolphin Encounters are trained using positive reinforcement techniques. It’s all about treats.

After the worthwhile orientation, visitors are given the choice of wearing their own swimwear or using a wetsuit provided by Dolphin Encounters. Then it’s off to the fenced off pools of the lagoon to encounter the dolphins. Visitors file down into the pools and stand on platforms that ring the water, about waist-high. Then the fun begins. A trainer and a dolphin make the rounds to make sure each visitor has an up-close-and-personal encounter with a grinning dolphin. There is an element of surprise in these encounters, so you’ll need to visit Dolphin Encounter yourself to see what’s what.

This will cost you about US$100.

Those with deeper pockets and the desire to get up really close can opt for the Dolphin Swim, where one is literally off the platform in the water swimming with the dolphins -- hugging and petting are encouraged. Two dolphins will propel you through the water by placing their noses on the bottoms of your feet. It’s sort of like “skiing with the dolphins." Cost: about US$200.

The Sea Lion Encounter is conducted along the same lines as the Dolphin Encounter, where visitors stand on platforms, about waist-high in the water, allowing you to hug, kiss, feed and play with these very merry mammals for about US$80.

After the various encounters you are encouraged to stay and use the private sandy beach and avail yourself of the food services. The use of the beach is included in the price of admission; the food is not. Also available, at an additional cost, is a video recording of your encounter. You may also use your own cameras to record your experience. Life jackets are provided at no charge. Certain age restrictions apply. Check to see if specials or packages are being offered. On a recent visit the week before Thanksgiving a 20 percent discount was being offered.

All in all, the experience could take 3-4 hours, depending how much time you spend with the animals, sunning and swimming at the beach, and dining on the food and drinks from the snack bar. Just be sure to time your departure to coincide with the ferry schedule or you could wind up swimming with the dolphins and sea lions all night.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.