If you are looking for a family adventure unlike any other, you've come to the right place. A little background at dolphins: they have treated people with great joy and respect throughout recorded history, and there are untold stories of their rescuing people. I used to give slide shows about dolphins and had lots of fishermen, swimmers and sailors come up and tell me their personal stories of being aided and even rescued by dolphins. In Greek times, they were so respected for their help to mariners that killing a dolphin was punishable by death.
I've found that dolphins bring great joy to everyone they encounter, and have had clients say that swimming with them has uplifted their spirits, renewed their outlook on life and healed decades long depression. I’ve had parents bring their children in hopes that the dolphins could reach their kids in ways others couldn’t, with much success. As you may have figured out, I love dolphins and bringing families to swim with them in a fun and respectful manner.
About Bimini: Bimini, the Bahamas, is a beautiful little island perched on the edge of the Gulf Stream, fifty miles across the water from Miami. It’s a 30 minute plane ride from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a plane ride that costs approx. $200 to $300 per person. Airfare, unless requested, is not included in these trip prices. Upon booking, I can provide you info about flights, including charter flights for groups of four or more.
My trips average four to seven days in length. These are custom trips, together we create an itinerary that fits your objectives and budget. Unless you want it differently, these trips include all lodging, all on-island transportation, all scheduled excursions including multiple boat trips out to the dolphins, and most all meals except maybe a dinner out on the town. You just bring yourselves, snorkel gear and a readiness to have the trip of your life!
Day 1: Arrive Bimini around noontime,(typically thru Ft. Lauderdale, Florida),I meet you at the airport and we head for our lodging. You’ll be all eyes and ears as you drink in the local flavor of this small Bahamian island (Bimini is known for the friendliness of its people). Once we arrive and you unpack, we'll grab a bite for lunch and I’ll give you an overview of the trip, the island, history of the dolphins and how things work. Then we grab our snorkel gear and head for the beach.
At the beach, we practice our snorkel skills. For first timers, learning how to snorkel is easy and usually takes ten to fifteen minutes to learn, even for non-swimmers. Kids learn it even quicker! For those already skilled at snorkeling, I teach you how to freedive, something that the dolphins love!
For non-swimmers; we have lots of non-swimmers on our trips, though most of them are happily (and easily) swimming by the end of the week. We provide you with all the flotation you need to feel 100% safe and comfortable in the water, and show you how to snorkel with a life jacket on. Once you realize that you cannot sink, you naturally relax and have fun.
For young children who don't know how to swim, bring the appropriate size life vest with you,(they have them for 6 month old babies, the youngest I've carried into the water with the dolphins) and we get them at ease in the water. Once they feel comfortable in the water with a life vest or wetsuit, kids don't want to get out of the water until their lips are blue and their teeth chattering!
After a refreshing swim on the beach, (the beaches on Bimini are beautiful and practically empty), we go back to our cottage and get ready for dinner. Over dinner, we talk about tomorrow’s upcoming dolphin swim and teach you our dolphin protocol (no grabbing - its only captive dolphins that are trained to pull people around by their dorsal fins). After sharing our highlights of the day, its off to sleep or maybe a late night walk on the beach. Sometimes even a dolphin bedtime story!
Day 2: Depending on the weather, we typically go out to the dolphin grounds in the afternoon. This means mornings are spent enjoying the beach, taking a walk around the island, going to the straw market or seeing the sights. After lunch, we get on our boat and head north to the dolphin grounds. Here we cruise the Grand Bahamas Bank, a vast area of turquoise water that is typically 20 to 30 feet deep with sandy bottom and crystal clear. When we find the dolphins, which is about 80% of the time, we follow them and see what they are ready for. The dolphins call the shots, if they want to swim with us, which they almost always do, we happily oblige!
Our encounters with the dolphins are magical, they love to swim in and around us, looking in our eyes. We stay together as a group, and those that can freedive take a breath and swim toward the bottom. The dolphins love that, and whether you go down ten feet or twenty, they love to swim spirals around you...
Our encounters typically last from fifteen minutes to over an hour. Depending on how big their pod is and the mood they’re in, we might stay with them all afternoon. They frequent swim right beside us, looking deep into our eyes, a look that you will remember of the rest of your life… If the kids get restless while we're on the water, we just stop the boat and take a swim break. They love jumping off the bow into the water.
We return home before sunset, clean up and make dinner. After bringing groups to Bimini for many years and bringing a chef to cook for us, I found that it is more fun if everyone helps in the making and cleaning up of our meals. I used to be an instructor for several Outward Bound schools, (led some of their first family trips!) and found that the camaraderie that results as we make meals together adds a wonderful component to the trip. People who are initially skeptical always report that making meals together was more fun than they imagined. (I've had many a mom who, with the help of many hands in the kitchen, regained her love of cooking). And there is the options of having a cook if you so desire.Over dinner we share highlights of the day, then out for a walk or off to bed. After a full day in Bimini, most people hit the pillow pretty quickly.
Day 3: Each full day we are on Bimini it is pretty much a repeat of the second day; unscheduled time in the morning to hang out, go to the beach, read a book, take a walk, etc, and in the afternoon we go back out on the water to the dolphin grounds, making a snorkel stop on the way at a beautiful shallow reef to see the many amazing fish and coral. There is a fun local band that plays one night midweek and on the weekend, and we frequently make it out for an evening of dancing one of these nights.
Day 4: Beach, walk, chill out in the morning, out on the boat in the afternoon. On a five day trip, we schedule three boat trips out to the dolphins. As is true for any ocean adventure, we adjust our schedule according to the wind and weather. Typically the last night we go out to eat for dinner.
Day 5: (or last day of the trip). Most commercial flights leave Bimini around noontime, so we typically take a last swim in the morning on the beach, take a shower and head for the airport.
Options: Lodging: Depending on your budget or objective, there are many options of lodging, from a camp-style two bedroom cottage with several fold-out couches to upscale condos and apartments. I’m totally fine with you eating out most or all of your meals if you desire and will price the trip accordingly.
There are a number of activities available in addition to swimming with the dolphins. We typically also stop to snorkel several beautiful reefs, and we visit the famous 'Stones of Atlantis', site of several Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic TV specials.
Other optional trips include going to the famous ‘Healing Hole’, an upwelling of fresh water out in the mangroves. There’s a trip to feed the stingrays, a shark feed (totally safe and very cool), a visit to the shark lab, visiting the South Bimini Nature Trail, renting golf carts and exploring the island (a great rainy day activity), and much more. Bimini is also famous for bonefishing and big game fishing. (Martin Luther King wrote his Nobel Prize acceptance speech while bonefishing here, and Earnest Hemingway wrote about Bimini in his book "Islands in the Stream")
I’ve taught a number of kids and adults how to spearfish here; the waters are so clear and the fish so plentiful. Its fun to watch how much kids love cooking up their own catch. Most of these activities are free and some (like bonefishing) are available for an additional fee.
Bimini also has a mystical side, and has been regarded by researches the world over as the site of the lost cities of Atlantis, and for good reason. Edgar Cayce, known as ‘The Sleeping Prophet of Virginia Beach’, spoke at great length about Bimini. People from around the world come here to bath in its healing waters and swim with the dolphins. Most all IMAX movies about dolphins include a lot of footage of the dolphin here, because the waters are so beautiful and the dolphins so playful.
Bimini is laid back, it has limited facilities and is for the kind of traveler who enjoys slowing down and taking it easy. And as we slow down, all kinds of exciting things show up; a school of eagle rays next to the boat, an afternoon of catching lobster for dinner, a magical encounter with the dolphins that seems to go on forever…
I’ve been a wilderness guide for several decades and a corporate consultant for just as long. I used to be a psychotherapist in private practice, and counseled parents and children. Of all the things I do, (I’m also a speaker and workshop facilitator), leading these trips for a fun group/ family is one of my favorite.
If the description of these trips evokes a sense of upliftment and excitement for you, and you sincerely desire to come on this journey with me, give me a call. I look forward to sharing the magic of Bimini and the dolphins with you!
PS: Check out the Photos!
The first picture is a photo of my own son Mark swimming with the dolphins when he was 8. He's been swimming with them since he was four (he's now 16) and he sometimes helps me on trips. The first photo in the album is from a trip I led for two families from California. Wendy called and wanted to bring her son Miles and his best friend Cameron to swim with the dolphins. Cameron's mom and dad ended up coming too! Wendy runs a professional healing referral business and will give you a glowing endorsement of our trip.
The next trip is of the Winters family on the bow of the boat after just spotting the dolphins. Shortly after this photo, we were in the water swimming with them... Then there's a photo of a trip we did this March; Lori (on the left)wanted a special vacation with her 11 year old daughter Sarah and came from Toronto with Michelle. Sharon and her 18 month old daughter Skye came from Florida. (Sharon was also six months pregnant). They happily give referrals about our trip.
Then a photo of a beautiful Dutch family; Rolf, Renata, Zoi Lee, Sky and Levi. They came for a 9 day trip and said it was one of the best experiences they've ever had as a family. This photo was taken at night on the beach... Rolf casually mentioned that he's always wanted to camp out on a beach... I dug up a big tent and we did! The wind was howling that night and so were we! The next photo is of Sue from New Mexico swimming with the dolphins. Sue came with a group organized by Alan and Rosie Hutner, the founders of Transitions Radio in Santa Fe.
Then a photo of T. and her three daughters. They'd gone through a difficult break up with their dad, and so T. brought them on my trip to recharge their spirits. That was a few years ago, and she recently told me they regularly talk about the trip and have photos from it on the refrigerator. (I tell you, these are life-changing trips!) The last photo I call 'kaleidoscope' for the way the water and sunlight sparkles on the dolphins...
I've lots of recommendations from families and groups, and I've worked with InfoHub for many years. I also lead family camping trips to swim with dolphins in Hawaii, you can check the listings for info on these trips. I've tons of photos on Flickr and have several videos of swiwmming with the dolphins up on Youtube. Bimini and the dolphins are a most magical place to bring your family; it’s a very safe island, the dolphins are so gentle and kids have the time of their lives. I’ve had babies as young as six months old in the water with the dolphins. The dolphins love kids!
These are custom tours and include everything but airfare to the Bahamas. This means all lodging, all scheduled boat trips and activities and most all meals. We fit these custom trips to your budget, using waterside cottages and fancy condos.
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