If lately you find yourself sitting at the dining room table with dozens of pamphlets and brochures spread out in front of you, chances are you’re trying to decide on where to take the family for this year’s vacation. If you’re like most people, you want your trip to be special, memorable, and something that brings the whole family closer together.
Well, when it comes to special and memorable, not many activities can top swimming with dolphins. These animals are absolutely magical, and you and your family will definitely bond over the experience. So, if you’re headed to sunny Florida this year on vacation, you’ll definitely want to swim with dolphins near Naples, Florida. Keep reading to find out more about this cool adventure.
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Naples is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Florida and for good reason: it’s a charming destination with gorgeous white sand beaches and plenty of shopping and culture to go around. Those who need a little pampering are grateful for the many world-class hotels and resorts that cater to your every whim. And those looking for some outdoor fun have numerous opportunities at their disposal. Spend the day playing a round of golf at one of the many golf clubs. Go fishing, play tennis, or spend the afternoon gliding atop the famous Everglades.
But if you’re looking for something really spectacular and unique to do while visiting the area, then you must swim with dolphins near Naples, Florida!
The Locals Call it the Paradise Coast
The Heart and Soul of Collier County FL
Dolphin Swim Programs Near Naples
From the time many of us were little kids, we had a profound fascination with dolphins. They are so mystical and captivating, but when you finally meet them, you realize they are all of that… and downright silly!
When you get up close and personal with dolphins, you learn all about their behavior and personalities firsthand. In one moment, they are incredibly intelligent, having their own kind of conversation with their trainers and each other. In the next moment, they are giving hugs and kisses to visitors and before you know it, they are thrilling crowds with their amazing acrobatics!
If you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins and you and your family are headed to South Florida, then we urge you to stop by Dolphin Swim in Miami for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Just two hours from Naples, Dolphin World Miami is a wonderful facility that offers different dolphin programs for individuals, families and large groups. You and your group will be treated to a memorable day where you’ll learn all about dolphins through interactive and educational programs that are as fun as they are informative.
Here are some of the dolphin programs offered at Dolphin World Miami.
The Dolphin Swim Program
The Dolphin Swim Program is great for children and adults, provided they are strong swimmers. The facility typically allows kids 8 and over to participate in this program.
You’ll start with an educational component that will teach you all about dolphin physiology and behavior, as well as how they hunt and communicate with one another. At the end of the class, you will have an opportunity to ask the trainer questions.
Once the Q&A is over, you’ll get to slip into the water to meet your new pals. Now the water is a bit deep, which is why the facility requires children be of a certain age and a good swimmer. If you have young ones or not-so-confident swimmers in your family, don’t worry, there is another program that I’ll talk about in a minute.
While you’re waiting in the perfectly-warmed water for dolphins to arrive, you’ll notice your heart beat just a little bit faster than normal. This is to be expected as you are about to have one of the most amazing experiences in your life! Then suddenly…
Ripples on the surface of the water coming directly at you!!
Then the glossy head of a dolphin pops out of the water just inches from your face.
You giggle, and the dolphin giggles back. This is only the beginning of what promises to be an awesome time with your new dolphin friend.
Once you get over the shock and awe of meeting dolphins face-to-face, or face-to-beak, you’ll get to hug and kiss them and generally splash around having the time of your life.
And then, when you thought the day couldn’t get any better, you’ll have the opportunity to go for a dorsal fin ride. This is when you hang onto the dolphin’s dorsal fin and they pull you around in the water. You’ll feel like you’re absolutely flying.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the dolphin swim program at Dolphin Swim Miami is one of the coolest adventures you’ll ever have in your life.
Okay, so what do you do if you or someone in your family or group is too young, or not a strong swimmer?
The Dolphin Encounter Program is perfect for families with very little ones, seniors, or anyone who isn’t a confident swimmer because it takes place in shallow water. But don’t be fooled, you’ll have JUST as much fun with your new dolphin pals.
As with the dolphin swim program, your time will also start with a short educational component where you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about dolphin behavior in the wild. If you’re lucky, your trainer will also spill the beans and answer any questions about the tricks he or she uses to get the dolphins to do, well, tricks.
Once the instruction is over, the REAL fun begins as you’ll get into a shallow pool and wait for the arrival of some very special friends. When the dolphins arrive, you’ll have some time to hug and kiss on them, and also just splash around having fun together.
After your program has ended, you’ll want to spend time exploring other areas of the facility because there are even more animals and programs to discover.
Not only will your day be memorable because of the dolphins, but because the Dolphin World Miami facility is such a special place. Located on Key Biscayne, just a few minutes from downtown Miami, the area itself is incredibly beautiful and sets just the right tone for the events of the day.
Another thing I really appreciate about Dolphin World Miami are the people who run it. The owners and staff truly love and respect the dolphins in their care, and it shows. The staff also cares about the thousands of visitors that come through the doors each year.
Everyone who is connected with Dolphin World Miami is committed to teaching visitors about bottlenose dolphins and the dangers they currently face out in the wild. Everyone at Dolphin World dedicates their time and energy to sharing their knowledge so that the world is a better and safer place for dolphins.
The thoughtful staff also wants you to remember your time at Dolphin World, which is why they provide a complimentary professionally taken photo of your visit with your dolphin pals.
Getting to Miami from Naples
The Dolphin Facility of Miami is just two hours from Naples, making it a great destination for a day trip. If you’re wondering how you would get there and back, you have a few different option.
Rent a Car
If you’re flying into Naples Municipal Airport, you’ll have the option of renting a car when you arrive. As of this writing, the airport offers many car rental agencies, including Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and more. Give them a call for pricing or check online.
Renting a car on vacation has its good points and bad points. Let’s start with the good points.
When you have a car at your disposal, you are not a slave to bus or train schedules but can instead come and go as you please. I mean, this is a vacation after all, the last thing you really want is to have to rush around trying to be somewhere at a specific time. And that’s never easy with little ones.
And speaking of traveling with little ones, a rental car can also be a lifesaver when young children get tired and cranky. How fun is it to have your 5-year-old throw a tantrum on a public bus because they finished their apple juice 20 minutes ago? Not fun. Not fun at all. But with a rental car you can all pile into the car and avoid the judgmental glances from strangers.
And finally, Florida can get very hot, especially during the summer and fall months. Have you ever been on a bus or train in the summer months in Florida when the air conditioning on board isn’t working? It’s not fun. Not fun at all. But with a rental car, you and your family can crank up the AC and tour around in comfort.
Okay, now let’s look at some of the cons of renting a car while on vacation.
To start, there’s the added expense. Some families have a good budget and others have to really watch the extra spending. Only you know if your budget can handle the car, possible extra insurance and gas.
There is also the added expense of parking. And don’t get me started about finding public parking in South Florida. Not the easiest task you’ll ever take on.
And finally, some people find driving around an unfamiliar area a bit unnerving. Driving to Miami, which is a big, busy city, can be intimidating so renting a car for the journey may not be the way to go.
If you don’t think you’ll be taking a lot of day trips and don’t like the idea of renting a car, then you have the option of hopping on a bus. The drive from Naples to Miami takes a little over 2 hours and costs between $100 – $200 round trip. When you arrive in Miami you would simply get a taxi to the Dolphin World Facility.
You also have the option of hiring a car driving service through the Uber or Lyft app. Doing a quick check I see that hiring a car through Lyft from Naples to Miami would cost roughly $225 each way.
Accommodations in Naples, Florida
When it comes to places to stay in Naples, you have a ton of options. The area is known for its well-appointed accommodations and resorts. The only questions is, what kind of budget do you have? Because there are some reasonably priced hotel options and some very swanky options.
Here we have listed three accommodations for you to consider. The first is lower-priced, the second medium-priced and the third fairly steep in price. But also gorgeous so if you can afford it, why not?
Located in the heart of downtown Naples and just one mile from the beach, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites is a great option for families. After a day of sightseeing, lounge in one of the poolside cabanas and soak up the remaining rays of sun.
Rooms are spacious and modern and come with mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker, Ipod / Iphone Docking Station, high speed wifi and 42” flat screen TV. Also, a free HOT breakfast is available each morning. There is also a health & fitness center on site.
While this is not a fancy option, it’s perfect for families on the go and on a budget.
Looking for a little more luxury and a few more amenities but still affordable for many people? Then the Naples Grande Beach Resort may be a great option. This hotel received the 2018 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.
Rooms have been recently renovated and boast modern and tasteful décor with luxurious bathrooms and stylish furnishings. Rooms come with a private balcony to enjoy sunrises and sunsets.
The hotels’ Mangrove Pool offers thrills on its waterslide that twists 100 feet around a rock tower through landscaped waterfalls. Your kids will definitely enjoy that. There are also private cabanas to seek refuge from people and the sun.
And when it comes to dining, you have multiple options to choose from, so you never even have to leave the property. Now THAT’S a vacation!
When it comes to luxury, almost no one else in the area can top the Inn on Fifth. Fine amenities meet exceptional service – that’s what this hotel offers its guests. This luxury boutique hotel is in the heart of downtown Naples and offers sophistication at every turn.
Stay in one of 119 elegantly appointed rooms, each with juliette balconies. Spend an afternoon in the spa, then dine at the on-site restaurant, Trulucks Steak, Seafood and Crabhouse with a menu featuring the finest prime cuts of meat and seafood and a magnificent wine list.
If there is one hotel that is considered “the place to stay while in Naples,” it is, without question, the Ritz-Carlton. As one of the premier luxury hotels in Naples, Florida, guests enjoy thoughtful and sophisticated amenities. They also enjoy stunning views of the Gulf from most rooms and common areas.
The 450 luxury rooms have spared no expense when it comes to comfort and style. The hotel’s world-class spa offers relaxation and body therapies along with wellness and nutrition programs. There is also a complimentary fitness center.
Of course, you can head outside and increase your heartrate by swimming in one of two heated pools. And if golf is your idea of exercise, then you will enjoy the Tiburón Golf Club, which offers two 18-hole Greg Norman-designed championship golf courses.
When you consider you get all of this plus eight innovative dining experiences right on site, you realize why staying at the Ritz is considered “a must” while in Naples.
Things to Do in Naples, Florida
While we absolutely think swimming with dolphins should be at the top of your list, there are some other cool activities to do in or around Naples.
If you love cars, then you’ll definitely want to make a pit stop at the Revs Institute. This non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving automotive history. Take a peek inside the preservation workshop, then gaze in awe at the four thematic galleries featuring the Miles Collier Collections of automobiles.
Whenever I visit a new city, I try and visit their botanical gardens. These are some of the loveliest. The Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre world-class garden paradise. There is a hands-on interactive Children’s Garden as well.
General Information about Naples FL
South Florida’s climate is tropical, which means it’s a great place to visit for snowbirds in the winter. But it can also get very hot and sticky in the summer months. The best time to visit Naples is during the spring, between March and May, with temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s during the day.
Naples has a lot of fun festivals and events going on year-round. You can find out what may be happening during your vacation by visiting this website.
Naples is a fantastic vacation destination that you and your family can enjoy. If you head that way, be sure to check out the dolphin programs at the Dolphin Swim Miami facility. And book your visit early as slots fill up quickly!