DOLPHIN DISCOVERY AT CHANKANAAB PARK
September 2011-Our 1st time swimming with the dolphins Website for booking:
This would be our first experience at Chankanaab and doing one of their "swims".
On this page, I am going to do 2 reviews. The first time our family went and the second time.
Please note, there have been a few changes since we did these swims several years ago. I will mention them within the review.
We booked our dolphin encounter (had to do the encounter because of our little one and at her age at the time (3), that’s all she was allowed to do) months in advance. They require full payment at the time of booking. If you book more than 30 days (I think), then you are offered a discount. Woo hoo. I’m all for saving money.
When we first arrived here at Chankanaab Park, we checked in. They told us to enjoy our day and come back at 1:20 for our 1:30pm swim. So off we went to Chankanaab for activities - as reported in the review located here:
When we returned (1:15pm) and went to sign in, they informed us that our excursion had actually started at 1pm and we were late. Um, they told me to be there at 1:20. ??? But it was ok, they just told us to catch up to them standing there on the dock being briefed on what was about to happen.
They provide free lockers; just insert stuff, key is already in them and you lock it and take the key with you-free of charge.
WARNING…the wooden deck IS VERY VERY HOT! It was burning our feet (those of us that did not wear water shoes…which happen to be me and my daughter). They fitted us for our life vest and then took family by family to have their pictures taken on a chair nearby. I was busy running back and forth to any spot of shade I could stand on. Did I mention just how burning hot the deck was??? Ugh.
Finally they briefed us on the particular dolphin we would be working with. Her name was Foxy. She has had 5 babies since she has been with them, 1 that was in the tank with her at the time. He was not trained yet so we were instructed to try to resist touching him (even though he was trying like crazy to get our attention and swimming right up to us and setting there hoping for a little loving lol).
The trainer had Foxy do several things on her own, swimming by us so that we could touch her back and then her belly. So neat and rubbery. Hehe Then they went back and forth letting everyone take turns getting to “kiss” her, then she would in turn “kiss” us. Then we would shake hands/flippers, then hold our left hand (to my husband “no, your other left hand” LOL) and she would come up out of the water and touch it with her nose. My daughter squealed with laugher the entire time and couldn’t stop smiling. What a treat. I knew she was going to love this and worth every penny we spent!
Then Foxy did several tricks, waving to us and she went by, zoomed by us so fast splashing us, then a few jumps high in the air. She “talked” to us by her little blow hole squealing. Smiled at us showing us her teeth. A lot of neat little things.
It was a wonderful experience for our little one and she has loved dolphins since this experience. She still talks about Foxy Dolphin and some day we will have to go back when she can do the swims on her own.
I did manage to get some videos before my camera battery ended up dying on me.
We spent about an hour in there with her and then they informed us that our “tour” was not over yet. Um what? They paraded us around all the tanks of dolphins and over to the manatee tank. Wow, really? They were letting us do the manatee as well? GREAT! I was kicking myself at this point because half way through the dolphin encounter, my battery died. GACK! So, when I found out there was more, I RAN to the lockers to get my other battery. By the time I got back, they were already in the water and I had missed it, but did manage to get some pictures of my husband and daughter in there with them, but just none of her feeding the manatee.
Over-view of the area:
THERE ARE SOME CHANGES....
A few years after we did this swim, they decided to ban all use of cameras and recording of the swims. They probably were not making any money off of their SUPER high prices that their own photographers were trying to sell to the swimmers. The reason they were not getting the sales is because they were over priced and never consistant with pricing either. They would tell one person a price and tell someone else something totally different. You "could" haggle with them on the pricing, but we found that the day we were there they weren't having it...so, they lost the sale with us. So just be aware that if you plan on doing this swim and want pictures, you will have to purchase them. Reports of pricing has been as cheap as around $100 up to a little over $200. They do put the pictures on the CD and they give you EVERY picture from the swim as long as you are in it (this means if you are in a group of 20 people and you happen to be spotted in the picture, it goes on your disc). However, also be aware that some have reported they got home and there was NOTHING on their disc. YIKES!
We went back to see the pictures on their computer screen. The people that are at the desk doing the pictures and putting together the disc are not the photographers. The photographers are out there just snapping pictures and then it is brought to the desk for you to view. ALL OF THE PHOTOS the photographer took are on the computer of the entire group. They are not using just one disk for each family or anything.
So, when you go up to the desk, they are looking at all of the pictures and check marking which ones you are in (even if others are in the pictures)...anything that has you in it to offer it to you. They took around 89 pictures of us, I think, some were just us, others were us in a group of people around us...but they offer all. For a group on 3 people (like us) it was $139 for the cd of ALL pictures. They would not budge from that price that day...so we walked away.
Just thought I'd give a little info on it after our return. I do photography on the side here and there, and I didn't think the quality of the shots were worth $139, but that was just my opinion.
Now for those of you that will ask....and it comes up all the time. No, you can not stand on the deck by the building and get pictures of the swims. Why? There's several reasons why and I'm sure when they designed this place, they probably thought of every scenario so that you can't get pictures and not have to pay them for theirs.
First of all, the "swim" area is HUGE! There are several pens and they go way out! You would have to have an amazing telescopic lens in order to see out that far. So you have a lens like that do you? Well ok, they thought of that too. They built the decks up so high that when you go down into the pen, you are walking down into steps and once you are down in there, someone from far away would not even be able to see your head. (You will notice this in some of my pictures above).
Here are some examples to show you what I mean:
The following is an aerial view of the dolphin swim area. Look at the huge buildings on the land and then just how big this swim area is. It goes pretty far out.
Here is another overview of the area...which also shows you just how BIG this park is from the area of the swims all the way down to the snorkeling area (which a lot of the snorkeling area was cut out of this picture, so it's even bigger).
Last, but not least, here's an overview of Chankanaab (map)
We really enjoyed this place. From actually being at Chankanaab in the park and snorkeling, to swimming with Foxy Dolphin and the manatees. We felt it was well worth the price we paid and the great thing was that when you booked the dolphin swim, you didn't have to pay admission on top of that.
I think this day was a highlight of my little daughters cruising "career". It was the start of her love for dolphins and this is one of those things we did that she never stopped talking about (at the time of typing this, she is 8 years old and did this swim when she was 3 years old).
Would I do it again? You bet I would. I'm just waiting for her to be tall enough to do the actual "swim" with the dolphins next time around.
***EXTRA INFORMATION*** If you have 2 people doing this swim, please check their site often. They are always running specials such as: buy 1 get 1 free (or for a penny) or reduced cost during certain times of the year and also booking early can get a reduced cost. So keep a close eye out and $ave some money!
DOLPHIN DISCOVERY AT CHANKANAAB PARK
March 2012-2nd time swimming with the dolphins (my oldest daughter and her finance)
I really didn't do a full report on this swim due to it was my oldest daughter and her finance that did the swim this time around. She absolutely loved our pictures and vidoes from our swim the year before that she knew when she cruised with us this time around, she wanted to do it too.
However, she is an adult and she was able to actually do the SWIM, not the encounter like us.
We had some issues (leaving our bag in the taxi) that we had to deal with once we got to Chankanaab...so my daughter, Kendra, went on inside the park to check in for her swim. I had already given her one of my camera's to use during the swim, so I guess that was the good thing of the day.
They had no idea what was going on at the time because they went to check in and of course didn’t have to buy tickets to enter the park like we did. The area where you buy tickets is off to the side and they only had to walk straight to get in.
(We eventually got in and headed to the beach/snorkeling area and our daughter would later come over when they were finished with their swim).
So I will share the pictures from Kendra's dolphin swim.
Kendra said she had a blast doing the swim. Her finance was also with her, but he has a fear of "things in the water" and hardly ever gets in the ocean with us when we are cruising. I'm really shocked she was able to actually get him in the water for this swim, but he did it. Only...he stayed on the sidelines and didn't do the swim. I guess that's ok because she ended up giving him the camera and he took the pictures. (Mind you, not very many). He did however, manage to get a video of her doing the push and it ended up being a pretty good "push" for her. She said she was the only one that managed to get so high up in the water while most of the other swimmers didn't get as high up.
Here's the video of her:
She said she had a blast and can't wait for her son (my grandson) to get big enough to do the same swim with her.
Some day we will return!!!