Florida Guide > Discovery Cove
Get there as early as you can because you do not want to miss one single moment of your day at Discovery Cove. It is, without doubt, one of the best days you will ever spend at any of the attractions in the Orlando area. It is a wonderful, man-made paradise with beautiful white sand, a dolphin lagoon, a stunning tropical lagoon filled with rays and fish of every kind imaginable, coral reefs, a lazy river and a free-flight aviary full of gorgeous colourful birds.
When you arrive at Discovery Cove you can take advantage of the valet parking and just step from your car and into the reception foyer. After going through the necessary check in procedures, including have your photo taken, you will be taken to your locker area. This is where you will be given your wet suit, life vest if you want to wear one, and a bag with goggles, snorkel and fish-friendly sun cream. If you normally wear glasses you will be able to borrow prescription goggles – available from the gift shop.
When we were there, the next thing we did was to go for our swim with a dolphin. We had an introductory talk from a trainer and were given a few safety rules and then we were off into the water of the dolphin lagoon and spent the next 30 minutes in the company of Lester, the dolphin. Our trainer gave us a lot of information about dolphins in general and Lester in particular. She explained a few of the tricks they use to train the dolphins and got us to give certain signals to Lester who then performed for us. After that we had our swimming time with him. This involved us each going, in turn, out to a slightly deeper part of the lagoon, hanging on to his dorsal fin and being dragged along. It was great fun!
After that we had the extremely difficult task of deciding where to go and what to do first. Everything looked so inviting, that it almost caused an overload of indecision…. .
If you haven’t tried snorkeling before, it is worth going to the Resort Pool and Tropical River first, where you can practise and perfect your skills, ready to enjoy the wonders of the coral reef and lagoon. There are no fish in the Tropical River so there is nothing to distract you while you concentrate on breathing through the snorkel. There is a water fall to swim through about half way round and when you come out the other side of it you are near the entrance to the free-flight aviary, where you will find over 250 tropical birds. You can get a close up view of them as you walk through the aviary, over bridges and along paths – some will even eat from your hand. For non-swimmers there is access to the aviary from the beach area.
The coral reef is full of hundreds of tropical fish of every type and colour that you can imagine. Here, also, there are huge rays swimming lazily around the fish and under the legs of the swimmers. Swimming in and around the reefs, grottos and the shipwreck remains, you can catch a glimpse of sharks and barracuda –m luckily they are safely behind protective glass. The whole effect is stunning and it is easy to spend a very long time marvelling at the whole experience.
Just beside the coral reef there is a shallow lagoon full of rays where you can swim with them or just stand and let them swim past, brushing your legs, or reach down into the water and touch them. This is a fantastic opportunity for the smaller children who are maybe reluctant to go into the deeper coral reef. The rays are perfectly safe and there is no danger of them stinging you.
Excellent food was provided for us throughout the day starting with breakfast when we arrived through to lunch with a few snacks in between. Lunch was particularly good with live music being played for our entertainment.
No visit anywhere is complete without a trip to the gift shop, so off we went to get a souvenir of our day. We were spoiled for choice, but eventually bought a few postcards and another T shirt each to add to our collection.
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Page added on: 11 February 2008
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