The splendor and majesty of the Wild Dolphin Encounter in Key West Fl
  • November 1, 2020
  • By John McNamara

Let’s face it, if you could go on vacation tomorrow, you probably would, we all seek a getaway, an escape in some way shape or form, a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the day to day grind. But what separates a good vacation, from an exceptional one? Some might say, affordability, amazing customer service; feeling at peace, being able to truly unwind, being one with nature or even forgetting all your troubles, if just for a few moments. The correct answer is, there is no correct answer. We all experience life differently and thus take away something different, but we can all agree, that the above examples all can’t hurt the vacation experience.

Wild Dolphins Near Key West

The wild dolphin encounter in Key West is one such experience that I got the privilege of witnessing first hand, and I can honestly say its changed the way I look at nature and it’s endless beauty. So how does this epic journey begin you may ask? Pretty unremarkable actually, as simple as opening your laptop and doing a quick search online, within moments I found a company named Dolphin World, they had a wide selection of locations including Key West and I read up on the activity and decided the Wild Dolphin Encounter was definitely the way to go.

The Wild Dolphin encounter in Key West is described as a 4 hour breathtaking scenic tour drifting into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where you can spot wild bottle nose dolphins and snorkel in the ocean observing various marine wild life, coral reefs, sting rays and much more. The tour expedition is led by Captain Sheri and her golden retriever Maya. Little did I know what an exciting adventure I was actually about to embark on.

Wild Dolphins Near Key West Fl
View Wild Dolphins in Key West

My fiancé and I booked for a trip Saturday, we selected the afternoon option that started at 1 pm EST with a 12:30pm check in, and one should note that they also have a morning option if you are an early riser and would prefer that experience. We stayed at one of the many cute and comfortable hotels nearby the marina. Dolphin world was nice enough to provide several hotel options for us to choose from and were pretty affordable. Come Saturday morning we grabbed a nice breakfast and were on our way to the marina to experience the wild dolphin encounter activity!

We called to confirm our activity the day of and headed over to the marina which was about a 7 min drive, and was very easy to find, the approach revealed a gated marina with boats still in the harbor so we knew we were at the right location, and to be completely honest, the GPS said so as well. Once we were there finding parking was pretty easy, and we followed the instructions on our tickets to the waiting area, where we met up with Captain Sheri and the other participants. Before we knew It we were boarded on the ship and going over orientation. Captain Sheri can be defined as a pragmatic, energetic, fun, loving and charismatic person, and her golden retriever Maya as cute, cuddly, playful, loveable and one more word, absolutely fearless.

See Wild Dolphins in their Natural Habitat

After orientation, storing our shoes and belongings in the safety storage area under the seats, the engines started up, all aboard was shouted from the deck, and we slowly started to feel the drift of the boat move forward, in many cases the most epic of journeys start the most humbly, and this was an example of just such an expedition. As we drifted out of the harbor, we saw that the weather was in our favor, sunny and clear skies for miles on end, and the waters clear and calm. As we rolled past buoy after buoy Capt. Sheri ratcheted up the engines and we were really making speed heading west into the Gulf where beauty knows no bounds. Maya kept us company for the ride into the Gulf, looking out into the waters right next to us, and loving every moment of the constant barrage of petting that we and the other participants gave her for the 30 min ride out. Once we started getting into deeper waters we started to see some interesting naval activities, many might not be aware that Key West is home to US Navy Air Station, capt Sheri called out some of the marines and navy seal trainings out in the distance, and some of the air maneuvers that are performed with various helicopters and jets when the base does training missions in the Gulf. Needless to say it was very cool to see America’s finest in action on our way to see the dolphins.

Wild Dolphin Viewing in Key West
Your New Friends, the Wild Dolphins

The true breathtaking scenes were just about to unfold as we entered semi deep waters where Capt Sheri explained the dolphins come to play, relax, socialize and even mate in peace without the fear of sharks to interfere. The crystal clear shimmering bluish green waves crash upon the boat gently as we were able to swing our feet from the edges and feel the cool touch of the water graze our toes as the crisp clean ocean air brushed the hair gently from our faces and caressed our skin as if to say, this is paradise you have finally arrived. After some time sailing like this Capt Sheri started slowing down, it was evident we had finally arrived “somewhere” that somewhere was the cove of dolphins, she started playing amazing grace on the loud speaker and we saw the dolphins answer as they plunged out of the water to and from several times over, some being playful and some rowdy, she then switched to some opera and classical music and they took the liberty to mate with those song selections, it was certainly a sight to behold. Although as she cruised a long she saved the big guns for last, a recording of someone speaking in tongues. This was really fascinating but she explained that apparently this really drew in and attracted the curiosity of the dolphins, and she was not exaggerating, within a few minutes we saw several surges from the water around our boat, and the dolphins came from all directions, they seem to congregate as she played this very eclectic and unique yet stirring selection. It certainly provided the entertainment value it intended ten times over. She brought out some snacks comprising of humus and pita bread and some ginger bread cookies and soda and water, and we were as happy as could be snacking and watching the amazing beautiful dolphins play around us.

Snorkeling the Key West Coral Reefs

After the dolphins sing and played around our ship Capt Sheri and her first mate Maya decided it was time to see some snorkel action, and we set forth into the sunset to a more shallow location where we could observe the wild marine life and coral reefs beneath the waves. About 30 mins ride from the cove of dolphins we arrived to this secret paradise where the water was so clear you could see almost to the bottom, you certainly did not need to snorkel if you did not wish to, as some of the participants decided to stay and play with Maya, who was more than happy to wag her tail and enjoy the continued petting and hugging for that duration. For those daring enough to equip the snorkel gear myself included, we were in for a treat. Capt Sheri quickly briefed us on the proper techniques to snorkel and equipped us with the right size googles and flippers and soon we were off, looking beneath the very ocean itself and seeing the world beneath our feet. We saw many species of fish, coral reefs and even sting rays and nurse sharks, none of which are harmful to humans, this was really something to behold. Imagine being transported to another world at light speed and seeing a peek of what that alien planet had to offer, a world that is completely self-sustaining and beautiful beyond measure, it’s just not something you see every day and maybe a few times in a lifetime.

Snorkeling the Reef in Key West
Part of the Tour is Snorkeling on a Reef

After about an hour of snorkeling, Capt Sheri blew the whistle and signaled for everyone to come aboard, we were heading home, we got back to the ship in a few minutes, and Maya decided to show off as everyone took off their gear and caught their breath, she jumped into the water and baffled all of us, well, except perhaps capt sheri who has seen her do it at least a hundred times, she swam and retrieved a floating panel in her mouth, it was very entertaining and exciting to see just what an adept swimmer Maya really was, and we all clapped and laughed as she effortlessly retrieved the panel and brought it back to the ship for Capt Sheri. We took off into the sunset, me holding my fiancé tightly as we gazed into the endless calm clean ocean abyss in front of us, the sun slowly setting behind us, gently warming our backs as we cruised delicately across the waves back towards the marina from which we came. A fitting end to an amazing journey.

A Wonderful Day in Key West

All in all, the wild dolphin encounter in Key West Florida is one of the most relaxing, spectacular, breathtaking and exciting tours one can ask for in Key West, it is the equivalent to any several activities put together and brings with it the anticipation majesty, beauty and sheer exhilaration that one would not soon forget. I would highly recommend booking a tour with Capt Sheri, she and her amazing dog Maya is the life of the party and they make the experience completely unique, I would dare to say it would not have been the same without them there, their knowledge and know-how of the area is invaluable to say the least. They are masters of this domain, they traverse the waters of Key West and the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of times per year and it shows with how effortlessly and gracefully they lead each and every expedition. Needless to say, you are in excellent hands when you ride with Capt Sheri and her loving and playful golden retriever Maya. I hope you try this encounter soon, it will change the way you see nature, I know it has for me.

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