Without question, dolphins are some of the most extraordinary animals on the planet. Playful, curious, athletic and kind, dolphins are known for their unique behaviors in the wild and in captivity. Dolphins are incredibly social creatures that have developed distinct forms of communication amongst themselves. They even have “signature whistles” that allow other dolphins to recognize them.
use echolocation to find food and navigate through water. They can jump as high as 20 feet out of the water and spin and do amazing acrobatics.
But perhaps the most incredible thing about dolphins is the fact they are so altruistic. They are known to help injured people and even other species, something that’s not often seen in the animal world. This compassion is why dolphins can play an important role in the health and well-being of many people, especially special needs children,through dolphin assisted therapy. If you are not with special needs, then you need to come to our swim with the dolphins program in the Florida Keys.
What is Dolphin Assisted Therapy?
Dolphin Assisted Therapy is a therapeutic approach with the goal of increasing speech and motor skills in patients with developmental, physical, and emotional conditions, such as Down syndrome and autism. The dolphins in these programs have been trained to socialize, play and interact with people.This interaction has a positive effect on the health and well-being of the individual. In this way the dolphins themselves act almost like therapists. In fact, Judith Simon Prager, author of several works on the subject says there are notable improvements in people with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.
A Visit to Island Dolphin Care
Opened in 2005, Island Dolphin Care is a dolphin assisted therapy facility located in Key Largo,Florida. The organization provides unique and therapeutic experiences with dolphins to helpindividuals with special needs and their families.
Through the use of innovative therapy techniques, kids and adults achieve their goals and reach their full potential. The programs at Island Dolphin Care not only help visitors achieve better health outcomes, they also inspire them to value and respect marine mammals and their environment. There are other facilities in the Caribbean that do this therapy too but the one in the Florida Keys has been around the longest.
Who Is This Program for Specifically?
These programs are great for those people with special needs or health issues. Age does not matter, though participants should either be big enough to stand safely in deeper water by themselves or be able to be held safely in the water by an Island Dolphin Care therapist.
This program is not suitable for those with a fear of water or animals, or those who feel anxious around strangers. This program is also not appropriate for children who bite, pinch or hit themselves or others. Safety for the animals and staff is always a primary concern.
Where to Stay in Key Largo
If you’re thinking of visiting the facility in Key Largo but have never been here before, you may be wondering where to stay. Here are a couple of places we personally recommend.
Holiday Inn Key Largo
The location of the Holiday In is great because you’re right next to the Key Largo Resorts Marina, which means you have access to all kinds of fun. The hotel has a relaxed tropical vibe yet puts you in the center of all of the activities.
Adults will enjoy the poolside Tiki Bar and two heated pools. There are on-site dining options for convenience, and kids stay and eat for free. Plus, you can book a room often for under $100 a night, which makes the Holiday Inn Key Largo a great option for families and groups on a budget.
Hampton Inn Key Largo
Though a little bit pricier, the Hampton Inn Key Largo is another great option for families. It sits smack dab between Everglades National Park and America’s only living coral reef, and also happens to have fantastic views of the ocean.The bright and airy guestrooms are incredibly welcoming, and each come with TVs and WiFi.Each morning you are welcome to a free breakfast, and, for those in a hurry, like if you’re headed to another magical day at the Island Dolphin Care facility, the hotel even has a Hampton On the Run® Breakfast Bag Monday through Friday.
There is a pool and fitness facility on site as well as a 24-hour business center. There is also a stunning tropical garden on site and a charming beach nearby. The Hampton Inn has pretty much everything you could want or need and offers it all at an affordable price.
Where to Eat
Key Largo has no shortage of food options, but having been here many times myself, I have found a couple of great places I wholeheartedly recommend you check out:
Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
You can’t visit Key Largo and not head to Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen. It was founded by a man in 1976 who named the restaurant after his mother, and it’s HER recipes he’s using. The food is so good here the place has been voted “The Best” in the People’s Choice Awards and Best Hometown Café and a whole bunch of other awards. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and specialize in seafood.
Another favorite among locals and visitors (those are always the best), Hobo’s serves seasonal American cuisine in a casual, upbeat setting. Many of their dishes include seafood. There is nothing like sitting down to a plate of seafood knowing it was caught that morning right out in the water just beyond the restaurant. This place is so good, even National Geographic called it “an authentic Keys eatery.” Check it out!
Key Largo is magical for many reasons, one of them being the wonderful Island Dolphin Care facility. If you have a vacation coming up and a family member you think could benefit from dolphin assisted therapy, give the facility a call and book your time now, as they fill up quickly.