Swimming With Dolphins in St. Kitts
After spending an adventure filled day in awe of the natural beauty of St. Lucia, Dustin and I headed up to St. Kitts. We woke up early and again watched the sun rise over the islands as our ship approached Port Zante, which is just outside of the capital city of Basseterre.
I was particularly excited for the day because we had plans to do something that I had been wanting to do ever since I was a little kid…we were going to swim with dolphins! I was completely giddy and couldn’t wait!
We got off of the ship and took a short bus ride around the bay to Dolphin Discovery. We had booked our tour ahead of time with Carnival so, luckily, we were able to get a discount on the advertised prices. Shortly after arriving, we were given a quick safety briefing along with life jackets and headed towards the dolphin area. Just as we were nearing the dock, the skies grew dark and it started to rain. Hard. I was disappointed that the weather wasn’t cooperating but nothing was going to stop me from swimming with those dolphins! For a few minutes, we endured the cold wind and rain while standing there in nothing but our swim suits but it quickly cleared and the sun came back out. Thankfully, the water in the dolphin pool was nice and warm from the Caribbean heat so it felt nice when we stepped down into it! I say pool, but really it was just an area near the shore that had been barricaded by large rocks (just like on the movie “Free Willy” if you have ever seen it) to keep the dolphins from escaping into the wild. So really, it was part of the sea and not a pool at all. We stepped off the dock onto an underwater platform that brought the water to waist level deep. Since this was part of the sea, there were brightly colored fish swimming all around us that were small enough to fit through the small holes in the underwater fences. It made the experience feel a little more authentic rather than swimming in just a saltwater pool.
There were 6 or 7 dolphins and about 10-15 people. We were each assigned to a dolphin to keep the groups small. The 2 dolphins that we got to play with were named Angela and Dante. The trainers were very friendly and knowledgeable and told us exactly what to do in order to get the dolphins to do tricks. We were able to hug and kiss the dolphin, dance with it, play catch with a basketball, have a water fight with the dolphins and then the best part was being pushed and pulled by them. For this, the trainer told us to swim out one by one about half of a football field’s length in the pool and then told us to slap the water to let the dolphin know where we were. The first time out, the dolphin swam up and turned belly up to allow us to grab onto its fins and then pulled us into shore. It was kind of suspenseful waiting for them to appear out of the water because it wasn’t completely transparent so all of a sudden they would just show up out of nowhere right in front of us! The second time out, the dolphin came from underneath us and pushed us by our feet with their noses. It was incredible how fast we got going!
After about 45 minutes or so of playing with the dolphins, we sadly had to say goodbye to them but left thoroughly pleased with our experience there. I can honestly say it is something that I will never, ever forget! I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was little and, in a way, this kind of gave me a taste of that dream, even if only for a short moment.
After drying off and changing, we took the bus back to town where we walked around for a bit. The street hagglers here were intense! About every other step we took, some new person was shoving merchandise in our face, asking if we wanted a taxi, or just plain out asking for money. This really turned us off from the area and we started to get a little annoyed. Plus, we are not big shoppers and that seemed to be the only thing to do right near the ship. We decided that the best way to see more of the island would be to take an open-air island tour with our remaining time that day. We had heard that St. Kitts was known for its monkeys and we wanted to see some! We signed up for a tour with a local guide and had some time before it left so we decided to grab lunch at a small pub near the ship.
On the way to the pub, we found a man with three cute little monkeys dressed in outfits and he walked up and put them on my arm and shoulder. He too was a street haggler wanting money to take a photo with the monkeys (and with our own camera at that) but they were so cute that I couldn’t resist! As I was holding two of them and posing for a photo, the third one jumped onto my head. I had been wearing my sunglasses on my head at the time and the monkey picked them up and looked at them and then threw them on the ground to make more room for himself! Luckily, I don’t ever buy expensive sunglasses so it was actually pretty funny!
After grabbing a bite to eat, our tour began on the Caribbean side of the island and drove us through Basseterre and along the coast. The Caribbean side is the poorer side of the island but even their low-income housing sits perched on a hill overlooking the sea. I would take it!
Soon we reached a gorgeous botanical garden where they stopped and let us get out and walk around a bit to enjoy the gardens. On the back of the vehicle, they popped out a make-shift mobile bar and poured everyone free rum punch to enjoy during the break. Rum punch is like water in the islands. It’s everywhere and most of the time it’s either cheap or free. I think just about every tour we were on offered it complimentary.
After seeing the Caribbean side, our driver took us back along the coast and then crossed over the island to the Atlantic side. Although we still enjoyed seeing the Caribbean side, the Atlantic side appealed to us much more, as it was cleaner and more well kept. Up until this point, we hadn’t been that impressed with St. Kitts as a whole. But here, there were gorgeous houses and lavish resorts and it was more of what we were expecting to see. Frigate Bay was the name of this area. If we ever go back, we’d like to spend more time there.
Just past Frigate Bay, there was an overlook with breath-taking views. In one panorama, we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea! It was so beautiful!
After taking in the beauty of the island from the overlook, we went through a tunnel down to the coast.
The tour ended at a really nice beach on the Caribbean side, which was said to have less sharks than the Atlantic side due to the temperature of the water and smaller waves.
Dustin and I opted out of the beach time though due to being badly sunburned the day before. Instead, we rode back to the ship with one other couple that had been on our tour. We started talking to them and found out that they were from Barbados and had joined the cruise a few days earlier when we had stopped at their island for the day. People were constantly getting on and off the ship throughout the week and it was fun meeting people from so many different places! We never did see any monkeys other than the ones in clothes that we took a photo with, but were told the wild monkeys go higher into the mountains at this time of year and are harder to spot near the coast.
After arriving back at the ship, Dustin and I went to the bow to watch as we departed from Port Zante.
In the morning, we would wake up for our last new port of the trip in St. Maarten!