There’s a lot to know before heading on a Dolphin Discovery tour on Isla Mujeres. I’m here to explain exactly what you can expect, and if or if it is not worth the bucks.
Price wise, the bottom line is this: it comes with a hefty price tag. Hopefully after reading this you’ll be able to choose for yourself if it’s worth it!
What you can expect
There are a few basic things you can expect while doing a Dolphin Discovery tour:
- a 40 minute ferry ride to Isla Mujeres
- a few hours on the island
- tourists everywhere
- “all-inclusive” food/drinks
- 45 minutes with a dolphin
The ferry ride
The ferry ride is crowded- a huge boat filled with tourists. They offer water/coffee/pastries. (These photos on the ferry are from our return trip home. We chose the early ferry out, and there weren’t too many people on the top deck because it was raining.)
It’s not a bad ride to Isla Mujeres, the only thing to know beforehand is that there is a long waiting period to get on the ferry.
Before getting on the ferry, people will try to sell or upgrade your dolphin packages.
If you’ve gotten your dolphin tour set up beforehand, you’ll just want to skip this part.
There are two ferries that leave Cancun for the Dolphin Discovery, and two that leave Isla Mujeres to head back to Cancun.
The 9AM and 11AM ferries leave Cancun for Isla Mujeres. The 3:30 and 5:30 ferries bring you back to Cancun.
The timing on the island
Given those ferry times, no matter what time you go to the island, you’re going to spend several hours there.
We took the 9AM ferry. When we landed, we learned that our dolphin time was at 1:30. Food wasn’t served until 12:30, so we had a lot of time to kill.
We didn’t know beforehand that there really isn’t much to do at the Dolphin Discovery center, so we decided to get around the island a bit (you can read more about our time at Isla Mujeres here).
But now that you know that, you can plan accordingly!
The Dolphin Discovery center is quite touristy, but the rest of the island is a bit less so. There are resorts on Isla Mujeres, but there is also a town as well as some amazing views. I’d reccommend getting out and exploring a little instead of staying in the Dolphin Discovery center.
There are several points at which you’ll incur fees. Some are completely necessary, while others aren’t. But it’s good to be aware of these before going:
- Port fee: anytime you are at a port traveling by boat, there is a $10/person tax. You’ll pay this in addition to any dolphin package you’ve purchased
- Photos: if you want any photos of your dolphin experience, you better believe you’ll be paying for them. There is no photography allowed, so the only way to get a photo is to buy it from Dolphin Discovery.
- When we went, it was $34 for ONE photo
- We got the $70 for photos of one person only deal
- It’s $120 for all of the photos
- Snacks/upgraded drinks: these aren’t included in your “all inclusive food/drink” package. It only includes the buffet and very basic alcoholic beverages.
Your time with the dolphins
Okay, so now that you know how touristy, expensive, and boring (for a lack of a better word) the Dolphin Discovery area is, you might be weary of the whole experience.
I’m going to stop you right there. Our time with the dolphins was both Harrison and my favorite thing we did all weekend. And we did a lot of fun things (you can read about our five favorite activities here).
There is something SO special and unique about swimming with dolphins. I’d absolutely reccommend it to anyone!
You get roughly 45-minutes with the dolphins. Depending on the activity you chose, you’ll be in a group of people with access to one dolphin.
We did the “Swim Adventure,” which put us in a group of 10 people (it’s usually up to 12 people) with one dolphin trainer, named Louisa, and one dolphin, named Gretel.
The dolphin activities
We did two swimming activities and five stationary activities.
- The first swim activity: you swim out about 20 feet on a boogie board. You keep your legs locked, straight out. Then the dolphin pushes one of your feet with her nose- it propels you all the way back to the group!
- The second swim activity starts the same way. You swim out 20 feet. This time, the dolphin reaches you and flips on her back. You grab each of her fins, and she swims backwards and upside down until you’re back with the group!
- Kiss on the lips
- Kiss on the cheek
- Dolphin “dance”
- Jump to reach your hand
- Dolphin hug
All in all, the 45 mintues spent with Gretel was so special. It was worth all of the touristy things, the waiting time, the fees.
I hope you set your expectations accordingly, and opt to swim with the dolphins!