A Trip to Ocean World

Ocean World Puerto Plata

Hola! In this blog, I want to tell you all about our latest trip to Ocean World in Puerto Plata. If you are an animal lover like I am, or have children, Ocean World is definitely worth the day trip! For me, my visit to Ocean World has definitely been one of my favorite days in the Dominican Republic!

Ocean World: Booking

First off, if you plan to go to Ocean World, you should book your tickets online ahead of time (http://www.oceanworld.net/eng/buy_tickets). Compared to most activities in the Dominican Republic, this one is a bit pricey, but your ticket will include everything you need for the whole day including an up close and personal visit with sea lions, dolphins, or sharks, round trip transportation, lunch, admission to the park, numerous shows throughout the day, and snorkeling. You can choose a cheaper ticket option if you choose not to do an animal encounter, but that was the best part of the whole trip, so definitely do that!

There are several different options for animal encounters. You can choose a 30-minute sea lion encounter, 30-minute dolphin encounter, 30-minute shark encounter, or an hour-long swim with dolphins. We chose the sea lion encounter as I have always loved sea lions (which are known as being the clowns of the sea) and have always dreamt of being able to play with one. For the encounters, you are usually with a small group of people (ours ended up being private as it was a slow day at the park) and get to interact with the animals under very controlled conditions. For the longer dolphin swim, you actually get in the water and get pushed and pulled around by the dolphins.

At Ocean World

Our day started at 8 a.m. when we were picked up right in Cabarete by an Ocean World van, which we shared with seven other people. It took about 45 minutes to get to the park, and our guide in the van told us exactly what to expect for our day. When we arrived at the park, we were surprised to see it was so empty (it was a rainy Tuesday, though). The park itself is small (if you are expecting Sea World, you will be very disappointed), but laid out very nicely, very clean, and filled with beautiful trees, flowers, and bushes. There are plenty of helpful staff who speak English, and US dollars are accepted throughout the park. We started off just wandering around for a bit, then caught the first sea lion show of the day. Throughout the day, there are many sea lion, dolphin, shark, and bird shows. The sea lions were by far my favorite and we watched the show three times! As a behavior analyst, I am super interested in animal training and love watching animals “perform” and seeing how they interact with their trainers. The tricks the sea lions did were actually quite impressive! 

Ocean World: Sea Lions and Sharks

After the sea lion show, we watched a quick shark show where the trainers show off some small sharks. These guys don’t do any tricks, but they are cool to look at! Next, was the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life: getting to meet a sea lion in the sea lion encounter. Joe and I were the only ones scheduled, so we got 30 minutes of sea lion love all to ourselves! First we had to put on our bathing suits and rinse off, then we got some instructions from the trainer and some background on the animals we would meet. The trainer told us he was going to try to bring out their youngest female (five years old), but that she was very timid and didn’t always do well with strangers, so they might have to switch her with a different sea lion. First, we posed for pictures with the small female and a large male named Shadow. They put their heads on our shoulders, gave us kisses, and made funny faces. I nearly cried, I was so excited!

Shadow the Friendly Sea Lion

Next, we moved down to the pool area and sat with our feet in the pool while each of the sea lions swam by and stopped for pets. We got to give them belly rubs! After that we got to feed each of them some fish, play catch with Shadow, and try giving them some commands to see if they would listen to us. Before I knew it, our 30 minutes were over and we had to say goodbye. Shadow ended our visit by splashing us with his flippers in a huge tidal wave before leaving the pool! The sea lions were awesome and I could not believe how gentle they were for such large creatures! The trainers were also great and answered the many questions we had. There was also a photographer there (they don’t allow you to bring in your own camera) and you can purchase the photos after, but beware, they are quite expensive.

Ocean World: Dolphins

After meeting our new best friends, we had a buffet lunch, which was decent. We then spent the rest of the day watching the other shows and wandering around the park. It was a bit overcast and rainy for most of the afternoon, so we didn’t go in the pool or in the snorkeling reef. We did, however, wander over by the lagoon where the baby dolphins live. We noticed three to four dolphins quickly approached us when we stopped to look in and started popping their heads out of the water.

Mischievous Dolphins

Suddenly, we saw a large rock fly through the air, right past my head and land on the ground. We looked back to see the three dolphins with their mouths wide open making giggling sounds! One of them then dove underwater, and came back up with a ball of moss in his mouth which she then tossed right at Joe. Joe caught it and threw it back to her, much to the dolphin’s delight. This started a 10-minute long game of the dolphins throwing small rocks and moss at us and splashing us! While we found this to be an awesome experience, we found out later from our guide that it has actually been a problem there. The dolphins have created their own little game of throwing rocks to people, and recently, they split an unsuspecting woman’s head open with a large rock!

Tips

Here are a few tips if you decide to go to Ocean World.

  1. Bring your bathing suit. You are going to get wet!
  2. Definitely get an animal encounter with either the sea lions or dolphins (the shark one looked a little boring).
  3. Make sure to bring plenty of cash with you.

We discovered the most expensive thing at the park was getting pictures with the animals, but it turns out there is a loophole. If you walk by an exhibit at the right time, the animal trainers will offer to take you up close to the animals and take pictures on your own phone for a small tip. I was delighted to get a smooch from a dolphin before we left!

Ocean World Dolphin

Want to get up close to sea lions or dolphins? Book a day trip to Ocean World for your next holiday or family vacation.

If you’re a first-time visitor to the Dominican Republic, learn how to get around in Cabarete.