With a growing movement to bring an end to dolphins being held in captivity for entertainment, a handful of hotels are now highlighting offerings that allow visitors to see the popular marine animals in the wild.
Just last week, World Animal Protection issued a comprehensive new study in which it shined the spotlight on the bleak lives dolphins live while in captivity. The report, titled Behind the Smile, labeled the practice of keeping dolphins in captivity and using them for entertainment “extreme animal cruelty” and said it is a practice that’s perpetuated by unethical travel companies.
The report went on to suggest that unsuspecting tourists are fueling this multibillion-dollar industry while travel companies, including such household names as Expedia, are reaping the rewards.
From being captured in the wild, to having to undergo captive breeding, to being forced to live in inhumane barren tanks, dolphins suffer at every stage of their captivity, stated Behind the Smile, adding that dolphin venues often make “false or exaggerated claims regarding their benefits to conservation, education, and research.”
The report follows news last month that TripAdvisor and Booking.com no longer sell non-ethical animal entertainment tickets.
And earlier this year, a fourth dolphin died in captivity at one venue alone, Dolphinaris Arizona, which has since shut down.
For those who are looking for an alternative, and more humane way to be exposed to dolphins, a variety of hotels have programming or opportunities to do just that, allowing guests to interact with the marine mammals in the wild. Here’s a closer look at some of the options.
Set alongside the Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River and San Carlos Bay, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village offers nature lovers the chance to spot dolphins in their natural habitat during the hotel’s Dolphin & Sunset cruise departing from the adjacent Tarpon Point Marina.
Situated in the world’s most biologically diverse region, Crocodile Bay Resort provides guests with off the-beaten-path land and water excursions including its newest aquamarine life sighting tour, Tuesday Cruiseday – set to bring guests within reach of possible dolphin encounters and views of wild humpback whales chasing the sunset.
Key West, Florida
Set on the only natural sand beach in Key West, The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton (re-emerging Dec. 2019 following a multi-million-dollar reinvention) offers adventures taking off right from the resort’s beach including a Dolphin Snorkel Adventure where guests observe dolphins in their natural playground followed by snorkeling around shallow corals and sponge gardens.
Charleston, South Carolina
HarbourView Inn, the only waterfront hotel in Charleston’s Historic District, offers guests the opportunity to set sail at sunset aboard The Schooner Pride and spot dolphins swimming along Charleston Harbour.
Key Largo, Florida
In its ongoing commitment to protecting The Florida Key’s unique ecosystem, the new Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo offers a Cay-1 program with curated experiences that connect guests with the region’s wildlife like ethical dolphin encounters with Dolphin Plus Marine Mammal Responder as they swim in the island’s natural lagoon.
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