I am writing to share the views of many that have already been added when it comes to Discovery Cove, it is simply amazing and a visit to this place is one that you will never forget.
However, I have a few suggestions to help you to make the most of your visit.
Officially it opens at about 8.30am however, on the 3 occasions we have been, there are always staff there before this time, the earliest time we arrived was 7.30am. Always ensure you take your passport/driving license with you as they will need this to confirm your age (as the day is 'All inclusive' if you are over 21 years of age, the 'All inclusive' facility will extend to alcoholic beverages).
The earlier you arrive, the earlier 'swim time' you will be allocated. As the dolphins are most active and co-operative in the early mornings, this is always a great time to come (we have had 2 early morning swims and one midday swim, they were all fantastic but we thought that they were more eager to interact during the earlier times).
Once you have been given your photo ID and proof of age (which you wear round your neck for the duration of your stay), proceed in to the 'Cove' and a photographer will take a complimentary photograph of you - remember to collect this before you leave!!
You will then move on to collect your swimwear (obviously bring your own swimming costume but they will provide a full length wet suit or, a knee length wetsuit or, if you prefer just a vest - these have to be worn while swimming - if you decide to sunbathe, walk around or just chill out you can obviously take them off). There are lockers there and they are a good size and we have always felt comfortable about leaving our personal belongings in there however, do bear in mind that you might want to only bring the amount of money that is relevant to this day trip and not excessive amounts.
If you have any body piercings (earrings, nose rings etc) these will have to be removed if you are going to be swimming with the dolphins, wedding rings and waterproof watches are normally ok though but I wanted to warn you ahead of time incase you want to leave them at the Hotel.
The food and variety available is second-to-none, they serve breakfast and lunch during your day (but at specific times so do check these) and I can guarantee there will be something there for everyone!! At breakfast you can have a full English, cereal, pastries, fruit and much more. Lunch consists of EVERYTHING!! The basics e.g. hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, to pulled pork, chicken, pasta, vegetarian options, salads, fresh fruit and a vast array of desserts (try the carrot cake - it's amazing!!). Also, if you should get peckish in between, there are crisps, peanuts, pretzels, ice-cream etc available - as well as a good variety of soft, hot and alcoholic beverages.
After all of that food you will be pleased to be able to walk round the picturesque gardens and you will also be able to go through an aviary and the staff often walk round with animals that you can touch and learn more about - we encountered a member of staff with a sloth and an armadillo!!
If you enjoy swimming, I strongly recommend that you visit the many 'lagoons' you can go in. You are provided with a snorkel kit and you will definitely make great use of it as the fish and rays are in abundance! Do mind your feet/legs though as they keep the cove as natural as possible so you might want to bring some pool shoes to save scraping them on the rocks! There are also areas that you can swim where there is only a pane of glass between you and some sharks and in another area, a pane of glass between you and some comical otters!!
If you are interested in seeing your photos that were taken during your dolphin swim (or the complimentary one taken upon your arrival), I strongly advise that you go and see them as soon as the photographer advises as possible and not leave it until the end of the days when EVERYONE goes to see them - you will save a lot of time and be able to look at your photos at your leisure rather than being rushed. We had one of our photos etched on to a slate and I highly recommend this unusual and extremely high quality product!
There are lots of places you can 'shop' for souvenirs as well as practical items you might have forgotten. I am very pleased to say that nothing is overpriced and all items are of a high quality and there is not an item of 'tat' in the whole place!!
The staff, trainers and the Discovery Cove establishment are exceptional, they show great attention to detail from the suntan cream they provide to the immaculate shower cubicles (with complimentary Crabtree and Evelyn shampoo/conditioner/shower gel and body lotion) and as many fresh towels and flannels as you could ever need. They also have bags that you can put your wet costumes in to transport home and quality hairdryers (although there are only 2 so you might have to wait during busy times). In addition to this, if you are not a confident swimmer (or don't swim at all), you can still go in with the dolphins and experience virtually exactly the same as a 'swimmer' - do check though that your confidence and ability in water will enable you to do this as you will have to 'commit' to whether you have a swim/non swim package at the time of booking.
When it comes to booking this, at a first glance it does appear expensive however, bear in mind that the price includes all of your drinks, all of your food, the swim experience (if chosen) and entry to Seaworld!!
As previously mentioned we have been 3 times now but as there are so many different dolphins there, each time is a different experience as their personalities are unique. The experience will leave you with a memory that you will never forget and give you an appreciation of their strong, graceful yet gentle manner.
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