Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dolphin Encounter in Cancun

On our recent trip to Cancun, I contemplated taking B for a swim with a dolphin.  Would it be worth taking a 2 1/2 year old at $80 USD each?  Would B even enjoy it?  What if he is too scared to take part?  Would there be any danger?

Over the course of our holiday, we ended up at La Isla Shopping Center no fewer than four times.  Once, for a visit to the Interactive Aquarium.  Another time for lunch and to do some souvenir shopping and other times, simply to relax, enjoy a stroll, and get a refreshing iced coffee from Ah Cacao.

On our first aquarium visit, I kept a close eye on the dolphin program to see if there were any other little kids participating, and to get an idea just what to expect.  During lunch at Jugo de Limon, you can actually get a table perched over the dolphin pool which allowed us to watch more dolphin interactions, and kept B entertained through our meal.  We watched many small children (about 2 years old and up) participating and enjoying themselves.  I got into the custom of carrying our swimsuits with us wherever we went, and on our fourth visit to the mall, decided "Let's go for it!"  Mark isn't a big water fan, so he remained on the overhead viewing area to take photographs while B and I got ready for our dolphin encounter.

To start off, we headed over to the seal enclosure for a photo opportunity.  To my surprise, B wasn't the least bit phased by getting a big kiss on the cheek from the huge, friendly seal.  We were given a short safety and information briefing and then the group was divided into those taking part in the Educational experience (what we did), and those taking part in the more expensive Advanced program which involved actually swimming alongside the dolphins.   After a quick trip to the change room and a shower, we were fitted with life jackets (lots of toddler-sized jackets available) and into the pool we went.

For the next 45 minutes, we were able to pet, feed, splash around and interact with our new friend, Yakuun.  Again, to my surprise, B wasn't the slightest bit afraid of Yakuun and couldn't wait to pet him again and again.  When the opportunity came for a get a picture of Yakuun 'kissing' him on the cheek, B planted a kiss right on Yakuun's lips!

The aquarium's photographer snapped photos through the whole experience.  After the swim, you exit via the gift shop where you can purchase photos (prints or on DVD) if you choose, but be warned, they are pricey at $25 each.  Those entering the pool are not permitted to bring cameras for safety reasons, but those not taking part are permitted to take photos from the overhead viewing area, or even from the pool deck from behind a short wall.

The aquarium itself is not a huge place, but it is lovely, clean, well-maintained and fun. B especially enjoyed the shark tank, the sea horses and the wonderful turtle and ray tank where he could stand right next to the glass as the creatures sailed by.

Our dolphin experience definitely was a splurge, but the trainers were fantastic, the experience was fun, professional and worth every dollar.  It remains one of the most memorable experiences from our holiday.

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