The Cuban Catamaran and Swimming with Dolphins (aka the dream day)

On Friday Evan and I went on a catamaran trip that included swimming with dolphins! Or, one dolphin, this beautiful, magnificent dolphin.

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Originally we had booked the catamaran/snorkeling/dolphin trip for Thursday but the weather was super sketchy that day and the ocean was really rough, so the trip ended up getting cancelled and we had to reschedule for Friday. No biggie as we spent the less than ideal weather on Thursday scootering around the local towns and countryside instead. But Friday we went on the catamaran!

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The weather was still a bit sketchy and the ocean was very rough at times, so we did not get to go snorkeling. It was disappointing because we were going to visit a live coral reef and I was pretty excited for it, but they were upfront about the chance of not snorkeling and gave us the choice of having extra time with the dolphins, plus a dolphin and a sea lion show, or rescheduling. We could not reschedule, but the good thing was half of our group did, so our original catamaran of 50 ended up being only 25. And the drinks were a’flowin (included in our trip) and it was a time!

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Our tour guide Mario was hilarious, and I can’t remember our other lady tour guide’s name but she reminded me of J Lo. They were both awesome and I really enjoyed talking with them.

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Mario and I. Big thumbs up for Mario.

There were very few people on our boat who spoke English, so Evan and I bonded with Mario and friend. But there were a bunch of crazy French ladies in our group who were a ton of fun.

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I took French all through high school but I can’t seem to remember much besides the dirty words (this seems to be a theme in general with languages and me), and the crazy French ladies couldn’t understand English, so there was quite the language barrier.

Good thing dancing is a universal language and I was able to sneak my way in to being friends with them.

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As soon as I joined their dance group they started yelling and pushed me to the pole in the middle of their group, so I pole danced as best I could and proved myself worthy of their party. By the end of the day we had learned to communicate with each other through hand gestures and hip thrusting, enough to get our points across. I really enjoyed those crazy French ladies.

We sailed around in the morning for a few hours and though the weather was not the greatest it was a gooooood time.

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Mario made us all a snack to hold us over until our lunch (lunch was included with our trip as well). It was a salmon salad with sardines and olives and onions and peppers, served with water crackers, and no lie, it was one of the best things I ate all week.

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Honestly if that same salad had been at the buffet at our resort I probably wouldn’t have trusted it, but Mario knew what he was doing. I don’t even usually like salmon salad (I like tuna!), but I couldn’t get enough!

We passed some sort of interesting Native demonstration happening at the shoreline…

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I think I would have liked to be a part of that party right there. And we also passed a couple fishing with a guide on a paddle boat and we actually sailed up to them and passed them beer from our boat. Definitely a hilarious moment. They were very appreciative.

And then we sailed to the aquarium!

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It is not a typical aquarium. It is actually a dolphinarium called Acuario Cayo Naranjo. Swimming with dolphins has always been a dream of mine (who hasn’t had that dream?!) and we read about this place but before visiting I was a bit worried about the dolphin habitat. How could we swim with them? Were they in tanks? Were they treated well? But I needn’t have worried. There are only about 6 dolphins living there and they all seem extremely happy and well taken care of. The staff and trainers CLEARLY love the dolphins. They live in the ocean, not in tanks. Though I guess they are technically in pens, but the pens are huge, and the walls are quite low. The dolphins can jump crazy high and I’m pretty sure they could escape any time they wanted. Our dolphin trainer actually told us that in the wild dolphins live to about 35 or 40, but at their dolphinarium they live up to 50. The dolphin we swam with was 20, and she was pregnant! Here’s our girl right here.

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Our catamaran group was split into two, so our dolphin swimming group included the crazy French ladies and another dude, eight of us in total. As soon as we saw our dolphin and got into our life jackets we were PUMPED.

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We weren’t allowed to bring our camera into the water, so our trainer offered to hold it and take pictures for us. I was briefly worried about this, and thought he wouldn’t have a chance to get more than one or two, but oh my God the trainer went above and beyond. I never could have even imagined how great the pictures would be! When I got my camera back I was blown away.

I think the trainer said our dolphin’s name was Harness but that seems kind of odd now that I think about it, so I’m not sure if that’s correct. We’ll just call her dolphin.

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She was just the cutest, nicest dolphin ever. I fell in love immediately. And I am pretty sure she loved me, which was apparent when she slipped me the tongue…

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Maaaybe she loved Evan a bit too…

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Step off, dolphin.

The swim was pretty structured. The trainer would tell the dolphin to come over and do things with us, and then she would go back and get her fish reward. So maybe she had an incentive, but I still think she liked it and would have hung out with us anyway.

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I was just in awe of her. I couldn’t stop smiling.

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For the below picture the trainer was yelling “Give her a hug, wrap your leg around her!” so we did and, I did.

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And then he instructed us to hold her up.

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Just insanely, ridiculously amazing. Such an incredible experience.

This picture is my absolute favourite.

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Dolphin’s all like “heyyy just hanging with my pals Lindsey and Evan!” She’s even smiling! And all her chins take away from my double chin.

The trainer even got a video with my camera!

(if that isn’t showing up for you, you can watch the video here)

Seriously, OMG. I got totally hosed. I love when she makes her noises! When I got my camera back and checked it out after I could not believe the contents. I did not expect any of it.

After 20 minutes or so, it was time to say goodbye to our girl. She gave us quite a finale.

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Now, we had signed a waiver that explicitly stated that we were not to touch the dolphin’s genitals. I’m not even kidding. I tried to take a picture of it, but it’s blurry. So during the dolphin swim I was very conscious of where my hands were. I did not want to accidentally inappropriately touch our dolphin. But that cheeky little dolphin had other plans for me. As I was climbing up the ladder to get out of the water, I felt the dolphin trying to help me out. I thought it was very nice of her, but then it got a little intense…

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Oh hellooooo dolphin! Yes her nose is where it looks like it is. It is RIGHT where it looks like it is. Evan got out just before me and apparently the trainer said to him “Something’s going to happen right now, but don’t be jealous.” He might have been jealous.

I am so glad, so so so incredibly glad that the trainer only had our camera and the professional photographer who was there had all the crazy French ladies and the dude’s camera. So glad. I just know their pictures couldn’t have been as good. The trainer knew exactly what was going to happen when it was going to happen and he got ALL the best shots. He really centered me out. I tipped him, but I was so grateful for these photos that I was ready to promise him my firstborn. I wish I could have done more for him. I never even got his name. He was my saviour.

After the amazing dolphin swim we saw a show with Anita the sea lion…

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Anita is 15 and she was born there. She was a beaut.

And we got a dolphin show with two other dolphins (who were 25 and 30!)

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Our dolphin does not participate in the shows as she is preggo, but these two were fiery minxes.

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Both of the shows were great. We had such a small group, so they were very intimate. I can’t ever see this place being packed. And I really have to say again that it was clear how much the dolphins and sea lion (and her baby) were well cared for and loved. There were signs everywhere that said things like “love animals as you love yourself.”

After our shows we had a lobster lunch, which was also great.

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Seriously the lobster was very, very good. And so were the fries and Spanish rice.

We spent a couple of hours at the dolphinarium in total. There was also an open bar included in our trip and a live band playing.

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And then it was back to the boat, and finally the sun came out! We even got in some suntanning as we sailed around, drinking our cerveza.

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A big shout out to the best El Capitaine ever who let me drive the boat.

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He was the nicest.

So overall it was a dream day. Just a dream. The snorkeling would have been the cherry on top, but the dolphin experience exceeded every single expectation I could have possibly had. I will never forget it.

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11 responses to “The Cuban Catamaran and Swimming with Dolphins (aka the dream day)

  1. Aww, so fun! You got goosed by a dolphin but good. To be fair, she’s taken (I mean, she is preggo) and you’re taken, so it could never really go anywhere. A shame really. You two would be good together. I want to meet a dolphin with many chins now.

  2. sounds like an amazing day. I’ve never really felt the need to swim with dolphins, but now it sounds like something i need to do!

  3. OMG what a dream excursion! You really lucked out with the trainer taking the dolphin pics, they are AMAZING! When we did our dolphin swim in the Bahamas we had to pay a fortune to get the pictures they had their photog take and they were not half as good as yours! That sounds like a perfect day!

  4. Bahaha that dolphin is a little minx. I am extremely jealous that this happened. It’s going on my list. Not the bum stuff….just the PG related activity. Evan has a face for berets!

  5. Your trip looks amazing! I would suggest that you do some research into the captive dolphin industry next time though before you participate in those activities. Blackfish is an excellent and trendy place to start!

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