Cozumel Dolphin Swim & Encounter Excursion Reviews
Awful food but suuuuuper awesome swimming with dolphins experience... also price was fair. Pictures of the experience are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over-priced.
We all had this on our bucket lists! This was a wonderful experience. I would recommend getting a locker and putting ALL your belongings in it do not use the storage things around the pool areas. We didn't get a locket and someone took my towel (the blue charge you $22 if you don't return it one). The pictures they take are a little spendy but worth it how many times are you going to be able to swim with dolphins?
GREAT TIME- a bit pricey...but lots of fun!!
Nice experience, but cannot believe they got us for $180 for family photos...
Leaders ensured everyone in group had wonderful experience of being pulled and pushed by dolphins, patting manatee. It was otherworldly!
Wonderful experience - swam with the dolphins, they would pull you and push you on a boogie board, the trainers were extremely informative. Afterwards we went down to the beach, swam in the ocean, bought some beers to drink. You could also walk around the grounds and there was a tequila tasting that was included in the package as well.
For the Cozumel Dolphin Encounter, we met at the pier and were taken by vans to Chankannab park, a 10 minute drive. It took a while to herd everyone inside & explain everything and then get our life jackets & divide us into small groups, but once we got in the water with the dolphin, it was incredible! I would do it again in a heartbeat! After the dolphin experience, we had 2 hours to enjoy the beach or pool/bar/restaurant, walking trails, sea lion show, etc on site. I wish we had a couple more hours there, it wasn't quite long enough to enjoy everything the park has to offer, but this was my 3rd time to Chankannab, since we usually just jump in a cab & go there for beach & snorkeling. It's a great place to spend a day. They returned us to the ship in 3 shifts: 1pm, 2pm & 3pm. We opted for 3pm, and the guide just made sure we all got into vans & she paid them. Easy & lots of fun!
-Cozumel - We booked the dolphin push, pull, swim with manatee interaction at Chankanaab park. The excursion itself was a lot of fun and enjoyable but the experience at the Chankanaab park was very disappointing and frustrating. The park itself is huge and has a lot to do but once you’re in if you booked an excursion everything costs something and costs a lot. They wouldn't let us bring cameras during our dolphin encounter so they had a photographer follow the group around then afterwards if you want any pictures they charged over $150 per couple for all the pictures or $38 for one lousy 5x7 print. On top of all that they wanted to charge my family a huge entrance fee for the park and charge for chairs, towels and everything else they had to offer. Needless to say I would never go back to this place based on how bad they try and nickel and dime you. After the excursion we walked around the pier and checked out their shopping and got cheap drinks.
Amazing port!!!!! Glad to be off the ship by then.....Dolphin Encounter worth every single penny!!!! We had bad weather but had an amazing time with the Dolphins. Food and Drinks were great!! Staff WAS AMAZING!!! Will do Cozumel any day and dolphins any day as well.
NOT Bad but The pictures are a rip off. You have to negotiate with them, They wanted to charge us 250 for our pictures on a disk. The beach here is very small and was not the cleanest. They do have a nice pool at the location.
The dolphins are amazing. Life long bucket list item kicked off joyously!!
2 things: no on really gives direction once you are there. Mill about toward the side with the seats and the showers....then expect to put everything into a locker and wash off any sun screen.
Just go with the flow and listen to the directions.
I did not care for Cozumel. It was dirty and not very pleasurable to me. The excursion was pretty good. You get alot of time with the dolphins. The taxi ride is 5-10 minutes from the port to the Park. After the dolphin encounter, you can get anywhere from 2-4 hours at the park. They have taxis that come every hour, so if you want to stay longer you can. They have a beach you can go to, a botanical gardens, zip line, etc. The park was decent. We didn't stay very long after the dolphin encounter. It was a cloudy day so not the best for enjoying the beach at the park. If you want to see dolphins and encounter them, this is a good tour. But after that, you probably won't stay at the park too long.
Good overall experience. Photos too expensive though.
We couldn't believe how much time we actually got to spend with our dolphin, Marina. The one thing we didn't like was that no cameras are allowed. Once you are finished, they show you all of the pictures that were taken (over two hundred for our party of 7). The pictures are excellent but VERY expensive. When we started to walk away without buying, they came down in price. We ended up with 205 pictures on 2 CD's and 6 printed images for around $200 which we will split among 3 families. All images and CD's can be copied. We were also able to feed and touch a manatee named Edgar. While in Chankanaab, you can explore the park, snorkel, swim, etc.
The dolphin swim excursion was amazing. The trainer was patient and not in a hurry with us. we spent a long time in the water with the dolphin, each of us getting to kiss,"hold hands" and hug the dolphin. The trainer also got the dolphin to do lots of tricks and swim by several times so we could touch her.
Her was very knowledgable and told us several facts about dolphins throughout the time we were there.
The park where the excursion took place is beautiful. There is a pool, beach, shops and restaurants just to name a bit.
After returning from the excursion at 1:30 we went back on the ship for lunch and then headed out to do some shopping in Cozumel. We took a cab to the recommended shopping area and had a great time. People were friendly and we got some great stuff.
Wish we had more time with the dolphins! Got suckered into buying all the photos for $135.00 - since they were $40 each! Best part was we could get back to the ship when we wanted to. Had a great time in port at Senor Frogs!
This was a great experience, except for the outrageously priced pictures and not letting you take your own camera in. For the price you pay for the excursion itself, this seemed a bit too much. But as far as the experience itself, Really the highlight of the trip for all three of us. Read my in depth review under Attractions, Dolphinarius, Cozumel on Trip Advisor.
Unorganized but fun.
The next day we arrived in Cozumel. When we got to Cozumel, we did the Chankanaab dolphin park, booked off the web site as it was cheaper and we would get there faster than the ships tour. The taxi ride was $11 to it. We arrived about 30 minutes before the folks from the ship and got a great shaded cabana near the lagoon and bar. We brought our own pringles and peanuts and booze, so we only paid for a few cokes to mix with our rum. It was well worth the $ to swim with the dolphins, and as an added treat, we got to swim with the manatees even though we did not sign up for it. The cost to buy the pictures starts at $35 for one picture. The place is great to just enjoy with out the dolphins or manatees. Their beach is quite long, well maintained and they have places to snorkel, a little lagoon area for the kids to do snorkeling bar and food service on the beach as well as a restaurant and a large gift shop. We did see a rainstorm moving in and decided to leave and we got back to the taxi terminal just in time for torrential downpour! Most of the shops closed down so we didn’t have time to shop, but we had been there many times, so really we didn’t need any junk anyways
In Cozumel, we did the $105 excursion, Push, Pull, Swim with the Dolphins at Chankanaab (spelling) and it was also well worth it. Be warned though, photos are $38 for one or 3/$55. You can buy a CD for well over $100 but that was out of my budget. Lunch at Chankanaab was both palatable and reasonable at $10-$15 USD. Shopping in Cozumel was terrible as the locals were rude, pushy and misleading about their wares.
Cozumel had a nice shopping area for the tourists. The locals were friendly. We booked a dolphin excursion and it was a wonderful experience.
The trainer was experienced and gave us a great deal of information about the dolphin. There were about 10 people in our group and we each had individual time to interact with them.
You will need to rent a locker for $4 once you arrive to store your valuables. No camera or jewelry are allowed. They will keep a form of ID until you return the locker key.
I went last March and brought my daughters and two friends back again for the Royal Dolphin swim. I just watched this year. It was over $800 for the Royal Dolphin swim. That wasn't bad considering the kids loved it so much. It was a close second place favorite, next to the Grand Cayman Turtle farm. The problem I have with it was that they wouldn't allow me to take any photos and it was $196 additional to buy the photos that they took. So in total it ended up at over $1,000 for probably 45 minutes. I think that is taking 'the man' a bit too much. There should have been no reason for me to not be able to take photos. Seems a LOT on the greedy side if you ask me. That said, the kids loved the dolphins.
Royal Dolphin Swim was amazing. Highly recommend booking it privately and taking a cab there. Buffet lunch that was included was not very good and the line was insane... The time in the water with the dolphins and then getting to visit with the manatees was very neat. Our whole family participated and we all loved it. The prices that they charge for the photos of you doing the encounters though is ridiculous. In our case, the CD with all of our photos was over $300. This, after paying $400 for the excursion and then adding on the Zip Line while we were there, was frustrating.
While it was fun to interact with the dolphins, this excursion was quite a ripoff. We paid $105 each and then learned we could not take any pictures with the dolphins. We could though buy a CD and a few prints for $177 or pictures at $37.50 each!
Fortunately, we did the excursion in the afternoon. We had more fun shopping in the morning in town.
In November when I told my daughters what I wanted to give them for Christmas Katie immediately sat down with Colton to show him photos and YouTubes of Carnival Ships, Sunshine in particular, and shore excursion ideas.
He saw a dolphin and, remembering a trip to Sea World two summers ago, asked if he could pet a dolphin. She laughed and told him maybe. When she told me what he'd said I decided to make certain it happened. On Christmas morning when he checked his stocking to see what Santa had left there was a photo of the Dolphin Swim and Lunch shore excursion and a note from Santa explaining that Colton would have to wait until Spring Break to get to use his gift. Almost as wonderful as his reaction? Children 5 and under are free with a paying adult. HavinsNest Family Motto? Never pay full price.
Friday in Cozumel was Colton's big day. We got up early, had breakfast and set out for our excursion, again making certain to arrive early at the meeting spot. When Santa booked this excursion it was for Chankanaab National Park but by the time Spring Break arrived it had moved to Dolphinaris. I can't rave enough about this excursion.
The downside was: Went to the Dolphin excursion and two tickets said Dolphin Swim and one said Dolphin Encounter. The guides put me in the Swim since they could see a mistake had been made. They explained to Carnival as I was listening. Should have been $38 difference but when we got back from the Dolphins to discover I had been charged another $129 for the Swim. Never have gotten my refund..
It was very well organized (although they do exit you through their photo sales area) and it was lots of fun. Life jackets are required, an all you can eat buffet lunch is included, the trainers are very knowledgeable (ours was quite passionate about the animals), and the 40 minutes in the water with the dolphins seems much longer. They run a lot of people through this place (I admit to wondering about the dolphins although they seemed in great health and appeared to be enjoying showing off - one of them kept nudging Kristie as though she wanted a "love"). There are 20 dolphins and I think I counted 8 pods of people, each with two dolphins. There is a separate area for Dolphin Encounter people so that is probably where the other 4 dolphins were. They do not allow you to use cameras in the water. Supposedly for the safety of the dolphins. Perhaps so but it certainly helps their bottom line since they sell a lot of photos and videos of their own that way.
We got our wrist bands and headed towards the lockers - rental was just a couple of bucks, as I recall. You can snorkel and swim after your dolphin time but we chose to eat, do a little shopping (had to buy The Boy a shirt and stuffed dolphin, doncha know?), and watch other groups in the water. The excursion is over at a set time - a 3 hour excursion. Taxis take you to the Dolphinaris and pick you up from there arriving about every 5 - 10 minutes so I got the impression you could stay a while longer if you were so inclined. We left just after the 3 hour point and did a little shopping in the terminal area as we wandered back to the ship.
You get to pet/kiss the dolphin, get pushed, and hold on to it's flippers. But you also get access to the resort area which is huge. If you pick an early excursion time you can spend longer at the park, because the dolphin excursion only lasts about an hour and a half. There is a fresh water pool, snorkel beach (with snorkel rental fee) and restaurants available. We split early because we wanted to go to shopping but this place was really pretty.
Cozumel: We picked Dolphinaris to swim with Dolphins and snorkel and other activities. The Dolphins were great, our trainer Anna was very knowledgeable and the Dolphin we had was the mother to some of the others. BEWARE: They are Pancho Villa when it comes to cameras, none are allowed as they will rob you later for the pictures they will sell you. After we were done with the dolphins, we grabbed our snorkel items and went with the group to go snorkel. What they don't tell you is they have a small area about the size of our living room that is where you snorkel, and they make you wear a life vest and you can walk the whole thing, so it isn't deep. Then they pack about 50 people in there and give you 20 minutes. So we declined this and asked if we could snorkel in the kayak/paddle board area, the answer in english and spanish was NO. That area was about twice the size of the snorkel area. So we went to the all you can eat buffet, it was worse than the Marketplace on the boat. We did buy the pictures and video, (they ask $250 but you can cut it almost in half) Later on the boat, we put in our CD for the pictures and it didn't work. It took me a few days and some calls all over Mexico, but I finally got the pictures. We heard later that the Chaakanab is the best excursion here in Cozumel. Anything would have been.
Probably the best part of the whole trip. We went to see Dolphins, even had the chance to go for a swim with one! He swam around us, and as we grabbed his flippers he swam with us on his belly while he was on his back. It was pretty awesome. The water was right from the sea. The dolphins seemed happy, and same with the staff. They were very intentive on the dolphins, as well as the visitors. An extremely safe environment. The grounds were very clean. I did find the pictures quite expensive if you wanted to buy some, and they didnt allow you to take your own pictures if you were down with the dolphins. Im sure if you were up on deck you could have. The meal was buffet style, but very good (better then the cruise ship) and the drinks were all inclusive.
As for Cozumel itself, we didn't venture too far, but where we were seemed safe during the time we were there. There was lots of shopping available, and the sales people were not pushy like they were in Costa Maya. I found the prices were a lot less expensive here also for gifts and souvenirs.
The dolphin encounter was great. My 7 year old absolutely loved it. Everything is taken care of for you. transfers, lunch, drinks, etc. This is a MUST do.
I enjoyed this excursion but felt it could have been better planned. We were in a group of Spanish and English speaking languages and the constant shift from language to language was very hard to understand. Overall enjoyed the dolphin and pictures.
This was AMAZING!!! We actually swam with dolphins. Did tricks with them and there is a camera man taking pictures. They do not allow cameras on the tour. You can have someone who is just watching (cost $49) to take pictures of you. We were supposed to swim with manatee, but didn't. I think you had to pay extra. After our swim we are guided to the picture gallery and gift shop. WARNING!!! The pictures are $39 PER Sheet!! You will get a better deal by just buying the cd if you want Any pictures. And then prints are only $6 per sheet. I purchased the cd and 1 print and the dolphin bag ($ goes to save the dolphins) the bag is soo cheap that it ripped like 5 minutes after I had it. Then we were off to watch the Sea Lion Show. Cute show. Since this was our 1st time in Cozemel we wanted to do some shopping also so we left. But you could literally spend the day there. There's a pool, a beach, a clubhouse and much more..... I didn't go all of the way down.
Shuttle returned us back to port and we took an $8 taxi to downtown to shop. Lots and lots of jewelry available. Free tequila shots in some stores. Make sure you stop at Viva and get the $20 survivors bag it includes: straw hat, Mexican blanket, bottle of Tequila, maracas and 2 shot glasses!!! Lots of stores offer FREE things just to get you in to look. I ended up buying a Mexican opal necklace which they started at $800 but I got for $150 and and Amethyst Slide started at $120 bought for $60. Merchants are willing to deal more if you have cash. I think I could have gotten my necklace a little bit cheaper.... The Margaritaville is a water park. Free snorkeling and all kinds of stuff!! You need both your passport/DL & Birth certificate and Sea Pass to get back on Board. And once again you can bring on bottle water, which is $1.50 in the pharmacy. (Must have change... The store only had $20s and the taxi drivers say they don't have change. ) also all purchases are in Pesos on the price signs and receipts. Every place has a different conversion rate based in their bank. You can get change back in pesos if wanted.
WOW this was an amazing excursion. We got to swim and play with the dolphins. Our wait time to get in and set up was not very long at all even with there being a lot of people. The trainers and staff are super friendly and the dolphins make you want to take them home with you. Couldn't get enough and recommend to everyone to do this.
We booked the Dolphin encounter - push, pull and swim through the ship. There was a little confusion when we got off the ship as to when our excursion started - there was no sign for it at first and then we wondered if it started at ship's time or Cozumel time.
We had a little time before the excursion to do some shopping. I liked Cozumel. It's touristy, but it's clean and it's beautiful. I felt much safer in Cozumel than I did in Cayman.
We met our tour guide who took us to our vans. There were 12 of us in our group. It was about a 20 minute ride to Chankaanab. There, we were given instructions, shown to the lockers and bathroom and met our photographer. Cameras are not allowed near the dolphins.
There are about 8-10 areas where groups can swim with the dolphins. Our group was in the big central area. Guests have to stand on a grate at the edge of the water for most of the experience. The grate isn't comfortable, but it's not bad either. The water was up to our chests and it was choppy - you definitely wanted to hold on to the fence behind you most of the time. Once in the water, we got instructions about how to hold our hands to show the dolphins what to do. Our experience included a kiss on the mouth and the cheek, holding our hand up to have the dolphin touch it, shaking fins with the dolphin, swimming out and having the dolphin pull us back in by its pectoral fins and having the dolphin push us on a boogie board.
Our dolphin guide was kind of rude. We had a couple people in our group who were nervous about swimming and he had no patience for them. He kind of did the whole experience as though it was a checklist...who has done this, who hasn't done this, boom, boom, boom. Finally another guide came out and helped the nervous few swim out and then everyone was able to have a full experience.
Included in our excursion was a buffet lunch - it was meh. Typical mass produced food for a buffet. I wouldn't say it was authentic Mexican, but it wasn't bad.
We also had time to explore the area and we all got to participate in a tequila tasting - yum!
This was definitely a must do for me. And I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They do get you on the pictures though - $37 for a single picture and over $100 for a cd, flash drive and 1 picture.
we booked the dolphin swim & ride with unlimited food and drink. this excursion took you to the dolphinaris park, not chankanaab park. we were aware of this because we read the details of the excursion, however there was a couple of ladies who were surprised when we pulled up because they were expecting the other place, which is where their friends went for the day. ooops.
swimming with the dolphins was absolutely an amazing bucket list experience for sure. right afterwards, they take you to see the pictures... this is where they try and get you. they wanted almost $400 for all pictures of us and the DVD. we ended up getting all of it for $232 and they threw in 3 prints as well. but they try and make you think that you're the only one there whose getting this kind of deal. it was pretty humorous. the food was ok and the drinks were terrible. I only had one and I didn't even finish it. the drinks onboard were SO MUCH BETTER!!!!
This was our favorite day and port of all. Cozumel was much more developed than any of the other ports. The dolphin swim and encounter was an amazing experience! The food and alcohol was all inclusive and you could also do snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding. You could easily make a full day of this excursion. The port was also very safe. You didn't have to constantly worry about your safety here, which was a nice relief after some of the other ports.
Today I had booked a swim with dolphins activity which included a day in a park where there was also snorkling. We happened to be among the first off the ship, and immediately caught a taxi for Chankanaab park. $12 for the both of us. at the park we were also among the first, and I wish I had booked my dolphin swim for an earlier time, but I didn’t want to take the chance of being late (since this was not through the cruise line). so we found a beach area with loungers, dropped off our stuff, and went swimming. the water was warm and clear, and we were almost immediately surrounded by beautiful fish. I quickly ran back to get my snorkel gear and camera, and started shooting pictures. I am, er… naturally bouant, so diving down to get better shots of certain things was a challenge, but I still enjoyed swimming around taking photos.
At the assigned time we went to the dolphin swim area, signed in. By now there were many groups from multiple cruise ships (there were at least 6 ships in port, including one of the giants from Royal Caribbean). Our small group (6 people) was somewhat lost in the shuffle. but we got our own “pool” area just for our group, so at that point it didn’t matter.
Our dolphin, Noel, was of course amazing, and we got to interact with her in various ways for around an hour or more. There was no rush to get us out. I can’t begin to describe the experience, other than to say it was everything one imagines and more. the only thing that would have made it better is if I didn’t have to wear a life vest, and if we could just freely swim with her in the water. My husband was initially grumpy (after all, I’d pulled him away from the sun), but once in the water with Noel, he regained his usual cheery mood, and by the end he told me it was the best part of the cruise. After getting out of the water we were ushered to a very crowded area where we were shown our photos on computer screens and were offered the opportunity to buy them. I’d have liked to leave that and come back later, on our way out of the park, to make that decision, but of course they wouldn’t keep them for that long.. so I had to decide then and there whether to buy individual photos at $35 a pop (we’d want at least two.. one for each of us),
After the dolphin swim, we went back to our things on the beach (I had taken any valuables with us, so was not afraid of leaving things just lying there). by now the beach was extremely crowded, so it’s good we had our loungers “reserved”. Stan sat in soaking up the sun, and I went snorkeling. once again, amazing. The reef itself is visibly dying/dead. but the number of fish is still incredible. I’m sure it doesn’t compare to what I’d have seen in Roatan, but since I missed that, I made the most of this chance. At some point my camera jammed up, and since I couldn’t clear it underwater (by taking out and replacing the battery), I had to stop taking pictures, but I continued to take in the sights “in person”. I would have gladly stayed here longer. I spent a short time walking around the park, but didn’t see even a fraction of what was there, and we left beach sooner than I’d have liked (but probably actually good timing). I still had some time to venture out for shopping in town. fortunately, our ship was docked at the pier which was right in the middle of “town” (there are other piers further away), so I could easily walk to the shopping area. On the one hand, Cozumel is very Americanized.. you didn’t really feel any poverty, or “local” flavor. on the other hand, the sales people would jump out at you at every step trying to entice you to come in to buy THEIR version of the same things. I did make some purchases but mostly a block away from the main drag, where it seems no one goes! I spent more than I meant to, but also got at least some of the specific items I had planned on getting. Returned VERY tired to the ship.
Dolphin swim/encounter was a lot of fun. It's something we've always wanted to do, and my husband and I enjoyed it a lot. The only negative thing was that the organization getting TO the dolphin site was horrible. There were people from other ships trying to tell everyone else the wrong information, and it got pretty chaotic. But once we got to the Dolphin place, it was pretty organized and mostly laid back. Lots of fun, and we got a great (expensive) pics with the dolphin!
We booked Chankanaab push, pull and swim with lunch and sea-lion show. I was amazing! The park was beautiful! The dolphin swim was in an enclosure in the actual sea! It was amazing and so much fun. Our dolphin was Padamay and she was wonderful! The food was ok and you could have unlimited sodas with your lunch. The only downfall of this excursion was the price of the photos! They take a bunch of photos and when you see them you will want to buy them, but they are 40.00 bucks a piece!!!! The pictures are way over priced!
Our daughter and her boyfriend was reserved for the 11 am Royal Swim with the Dolphins, but when we went to check them in at the Dolphinarium, there was a huge line of people waiting to get signed up. But rather than prioritizing the people that had already booked appointments, they went in line, and I told the lady several times that our group was going to be late for the 11 am RESERVED appt, but she did not seem to care. When we did get our turn in line, we were about 10 minutes late, so they just pushed us into the next group scheduled at 10:20. They seem to not have any clue on how to prioritize their customers to insure that everyone has a good experience. Once our daughter participated in the Dophin Swim, she said it went much better, and she enjoyed the experience. Pictures there also seemed to be a money making gimmick. They wanted $37 a picture, or you could do a package for several hundred dollars. I wanted to purchase 2 pictures and offered to pay $50, but they would not deal! It seems to me that since the photographer is already taking bunches of pictures, it would be to their advantage to sell people the CD with all their images for $50-$75, and I would bet that about 90% of the people would take advantage of it, and not just the 20-30% of people that end up paying the inflated prices. It's just common sense!
We split our group between the dolphin encounter for the youngest child and dad, and the rest doing the dolphin push, pull, and swim, with grandparents watching. We loved that, but they wouldn't let grandparents take photos, and the photos they sell you are crazy expensive. That is my only complaint. We enjoyed the sea lion show, beach, pool, and some snorkled. We didn't even get to the tequila tasting, crocodiles, or Mayan exhibit! Lots to do.
Loved the Dolphin push encounter. We were in the water far longer than the excursion indicates. The staff were friendly and very helpful. I have wanted to do this for years and found the price extremely cheap in comparison to other islands….Bahamas price was @$240 per person
It was a very hot day with great weather. The price for the pictures was quite pricey but worth it to have them. I would do this excursion again and pass not he pictures for a second time but you have to get them the first visit. We stayed in the park and enjoyed the beach afterwards.
I wold recommend this to anyone interested in dolphins. Nice park, decent food and other activities you can go to during your stay at the park….we didn't get to them but I would try to get to them another time. I would return to Cozumel and do this excursion again.
swimming with dolphins was on my bucket list and this one did not disappoint. It lasted for more than an hour and the contact with the dolphins was extensive. What made it even better is that we were also able to swim with and feed the manatees. Loved every minute of it. Be aware the people working the shops along the docks are going to try to hustle you. As much as I wanted to see the Mayan ruins it was 4 hours inland and I did not feel comfortable going that far away, not in Mexico.
We walked about 15 minutes to get in a small taxi van to go to Chankanaab National Park, home of Dolphin Discovery, which was about 15-20 minute drive. The port area had lots of shops and restaurants, but we did not go to any - we just went straight to the park. Chankanaab National Park is absolutely gorgeous. The dolphin encounter was very fun. We had done one in Grand Cayman in 2012, but that was in a salt water pool - and I enjoyed being in the ocean more (the dolphins are in an area of the ocean off the beach and that is sectioned off in it's own area). The waves were a bit hard to take against the wall when in the water (with life jackets on of course) waiting for our turns with the dolphins as it was raining and overcast a bit, but that bothered our daughter more since she is younger and smaller, so we held on to her tightly. The dolphin excursion was super fun and our daughter loved being able to swim with them as she had been too young when we did it in Cayman in 2012, and could only kiss them and hold their fins that time. After the dolphin encounter, we were free to roam the park until it was time to get the last van back to the port (a couple more hours - or we could have left right after, but we decided to stay and explore). The park was beautiful with tons of gardens, a beautiful beach, a sea lion show and an alligator area. We also could have swam in a pool or a lagoon, and the lagoon looked great.
Cozumel was my favorite port of call by far. We booked the excursion for the dolphin/manatee encounter at Chankanaab. The dolphins were amazing, and the manatee was neat. They have a free sea lion show that was an adorable hoot. Chankanaab has a very nice beach area with plenty of shady spots to relax. It was very low-stress getting to/from the area - the excursion arranged taxis to take us all to the facility, and whenever we wanted to leave we simply had to report to a certain place at the entrance and they would arrange a taxi to take us back to the port at no additional cost to us - it was included in the excursion fee.
I wish we had owned and brought a waterproof camera with us to document the amazing experiences we had with the dolphins and manatee. The pictures the Chankanaab staff took were very cool, but insanely expensive. I would absolutely do this excursion again, would recommend it to anyone ... and would be sure to bring my own waterproof camera for next time to save money on pictures.
Definitely a highlight of the trip
We went on the Dolphin Swim and Push-Pull, which was our favorite excursion of the entire cruise! After some training, when we received information on how to touch dolphins, we spent 40 minutes interacting with Danny, our two-year-old dolphin. He "lay" in our arms like a baby, "kissed" us, swam us as we held onto his fins, and pushed us on a boogie board.
This was by far the best value of all the excursions, as it not only included plenty of time with the dolphin but also the transportation and admission to Chankanaab Park, a beautiful beach park where you can also snorkel, kayak, tour gardens, watch sea lions, or just relax with a margarita.
ADVICE: Take the earliest excursion and enjoy the rest of the day at this beautiful park. Lockers are free and will keep your valuables and a change of clothing.
The girls really had a great time! A very memorable experience for them both.
was fn kids loved it i watched they had a blast