Woman swimming with dolphins

Swim with sea creatures

Always wanted to swim with sea creatures like dolphins, sharks or stingrays? Take the plunge! Swimming with these fascinating animals is an exhilarating experience that deserves a spot on any bucket list.

Shark Ray Alley – Hol Chan, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Looking for a travel destination with lush jungles, tropical beaches and world-class diving and snorkeling? Belize has it all. While you're there, it would be a crime to miss a trip to Hol Chan marine reserve in Ambergris Caye — specifically, Shark Ray Alley. For years, fishermen would dump their scraps in this location, attracting nurse sharks and sting rays to feed on the bounty. The fishermen reported this to dive shops in San Pedro, and soon divers were flocking to the area. When your boat brings you to Shark Ray Alley, the shark and rays will approach in anticipation of feeding time (on fish scraps, not you!). The rays, with a wing span of 2-4 feet, and the gentle nurse sharks, will glide right by divers and snorkelers. If you like, you may gently stroke the rays' wings, but, as your guide will warn you, no pulling sting ray tails or sticking your hand in the sharks' mouths. Good advice!

Dolphin Trainer for a Day – Discovery Cove, Orlando

If the thought of swimming with sharks and rays conjures up images of Jaws, you might prefer to take a dip with dolphins. These friendly, intelligent and playful marine mammals are fascinating creatures, and thanks to places like Discovery Cove, you can enjoy them in a very personal way. Children as young as 6 years old can enjoy Discovery Cove's Trainer for a Day program. This package includes 30 minutes of dolphin interaction (like riding on a dolphin's back) and a deep-water interaction with dolphins, a private photo session and the opportunity to be pushed through the water by two dolphins. Reviewers overwhelmingly say this is the experience of a lifetime and well worth the cost.

Sea lion interaction – Atlantis Bahamas

Always wanted to hug a sea lion? Here's your chance! At the Atlantas Bahamas resort, sea mammals abound! Your choices for animal interaction include dolphins, sting rays and the friendly, vocal sea lions. Sign up for the Sea Lion Interaction and wade waist-deep into the water with a sea lion for some cold-water canoodling. Go ahead and give your sea lion a hug and a kiss. Just be prepared: he might greet you with an ear-splitting roar! Your experience will also include a tour of the Bahamas' first dedicated marine animal rescue and rehabilitation facility and a behind-the-scenes look at how trainers care for their sea lions and dolphins. Animal lovers will love touring the largest marine animal medical facility in the Caribbean.

Quick tip:

Choose a warm time of year for your sea mammal encounters. That water can be chilly!

More travel adventures:

Adventures in the sky: Hot air balloon, helicopter or sky dive
A travel 'bucket list' within reach
Adventure travel destinations


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