Theater of the Sea is located in Islamorada in the Upper Florida Keys. The highlight of the park is the “swim with” adventures, which allows patrons to get up close to dolphins, sea lions, and stingrays. It’s a small marine animal park that features shows, educational programs, and adventures.
Conveniently situated just off U.S. Route 1, the park provides a more personal experience than many, and is much smaller than other Marine parks in Florida.
Swimming programs are located in a 10 to 15 foot-deep natural lagoon, created back in the 1940s from a quarry, and include hands-on experiences with the animals.
Unlike many similar facilities, Theater of the Sea allows children as young as five years old to participate in the swims. Children as young as three may take part in the Wade with the Dolphins program, which happens in a 3 – 4 foot pool, perfect for little ones or non-swimmers. This is definitely a life experience for kids this age.
You’ll find the shows are just long enough and the tour guides are very knowledgeable and always stay after the show to answer any questions. It is a little pricey but well worth it when you consider Theater of the Sea features dolphins, sea lions, great parrots, fish, turtles, sharks and manta rays. Very interesting and educational!
Check OUT this video and see these guys in action!
I enjoyed this article by Lisa Meyers Mcclintick from the Star Tribune travel section giving an accurate account of this wonderful experience. Enjoy!
Swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys
After a sticky morning in May’s soupy heat, the inland lagoon on the Florida Keys’ Islamorada feels chilly at 70-some degrees. Six of us dip in cautiously, tugging on flippers, treading water and eagerly spreading out.
“Once a quarry used to build bridges across the Keys, this three-acre saltwater lagoon is home to eight dolphins that are the heart of Theater of the Sea, a family-owned attraction since 1946. As the world’s second-oldest marine animal park, it was also one of the first to offer swims with dolphins.”
Early morning downpours have left the water cloudy, making it tricky to see Duffy and Stormy as our trainer pipes her whistle and they dive beneath the surface.
We wait with our arms cradled, excited and a little nervous, not knowing which of us the dolphins will choose first.
“Oh!” I gasp as Duffy — clocking close to 500 pounds — suddenly settles against me. He feels surprisingly soft rather than slippery. He’s gentle, too, and radiates unexpected but welcome warmth in the cool water.
As we’ve been coached, I resist the urge to hug him close or stroke him above wise, mischievous eyes.
Duffy lingers briefly before swishing forward to the next person, each face lighting up in succession.
Her 600 pounds of hydropower launched me explosively upward with a “Whoosh!” She is so strong that I was almost standing upright as we churned across the water; I was reveling in pure exhilaration.
I flashed back to watching Pinder’s foot-push ride and understood why he threw out his arms and triumphantly shouted “Aquaman!”
After reluctantly saying goodbye to the dolphins, I strolled back to the Postcard Inn beach and stared at the glittery ocean with a fresh appreciation for what lies below its surface.
As I waded into the water, a voice in my head piped up “Aquawoman!” and a giddy grin lingered through sunset.
“Good stuff – Hefty Admission Tix – Svelte Tour Guides” 4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013 NEW
Nice afternoon activity. Lots of fish and tropical birds and mammals of the sea to get close to and observe. Admission includes three or four tours and shows of sea lions, porpoises and parrots. The trainers are audience friendly and outfitted in crowd pleasing attire. Bring or wear a bathing suit to get close to an opportunity to swim and feed the parrot fish, great stuff for the wee ones. Refreshments are steep in price, $3.00 for a soda – so plan accordingly.
“love the parrots” 5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013 NEW
1 person found this review helpful
It was a slow morning with cool weather so crowd was no existent. The parrot handler was able to give us a fantastic experience including handling a parrot. Not everyone will get this opportunity but this place was a highlight of our visit to keys. Good dolphin and seal show and all the staff were friendly and informative. Also as a cat lover we appreciated their program to help stray cats.
“Excellent Value Humane Marine Park” 4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2013
1 person found this review helpful
The general admission is good value for money. The dolphins are Atlantic Bottle-nosed dolphins – either rescued or born at the marine park. None of these dolphins are Pacific dolphins inhumanely harvested at Taiji in Japan. The large semi-natural lagoon is an old quarry filled with seawater and gives the animals plenty of room to swim freely.
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