Discovery Cove – A day in paradise
Yes it is. Really. It’s all inclusive, luxurious, an escape to paradise. As the daily admission numbers are restricted at Discovery Cove it is the perfect rest day in between theme parks. There are no queues and no checking fast passes. Bliss. Truly intimate. A family resort that will leave you feeling all zen like and dreaming of your next visit. We were all blown away by its beauty. So peaceful. All you need to do is sit back, relax and soak up the sunshine. As well as see birds, dolphins, fish, otters, rays and sharks. It’s the perfect day, a glorious balance of sea adventures and relaxation.
There aren’t many tourist spots in Orlando where you can feel so relaxed. Free from crowds and quite literally like you have been transported to an island in the middle of nowhere. I’d read about it’s uniqueness, how peaceful Discovery Cove is, luxurious and a once in a lifetime experience. I’d read about swimming with rays and floating down the lazy river. But I hadn’t quite expected for it to be as stunning as it was. With the exception of our honeymoon in Thailand I have never seen beaches or surroundings as beautiful. It felt like a very special day, exclusive and I am so glad I got to experience it with my boys. I feel so thankful to the team at SeaWorld for allowing us to experience such a magical day.
And so here are my top tips for visiting Discovery Cove – A day in paradise
Swimming with Dolphins
Let me introduce you to Thelma and Soleil. Mother and Daughter who we met and swam with, interacted with and had the most wonderful experience with. Once you arrive, you’ll receive a time for your swim with the dolphins – you’ll then have the rest of your visit to quite simply enjoy a day in paradise.
The dolphin swim begins with your group meeting a dolphin, the water is crystal clear and very cold so I would recommend you all wear a full wet suit. Next, one of the animal care specialists will teach you all about dolphin habits, behaviors, their incredible communication abilities, and the relationships they build on a daily basis with these incredible animals. It was fantastic to have this insight and to be able to ask questions. But also to see the dolphins being playful.
And lastly each member of your group will get a chance to individually interact with a dolphin, swim with a dolphin including a dorsal fin tow back to the group. Just in case you have little ones, this part of the experience can take place in shallow water or deeper water – the staff were brilliant with George and supported him as he swam to the deeper water.
A Private Cabana
The tranquil atmosphere of a cabana. Such a treat and if truth be told I would definitely book a cabana when we go back. I loved the privacy. Don’t get me wrong the cove isn’t busy so you don’t actually need one but for me it just added to the luxury feel and totally unique experience. So peaceful and without a lot of movement. Our location was next to the animal interaction point to the left on entry to the cove. If you have the budget I would consider booking a cabana, I loved being able to escape the heat and relax undercover. I believe the VIP cabana’s are situated around the dolphin cove and grand reef. This is a personal opinion – I actually preferred our location as it was so peaceful, free from people and looked out over the most relaxing back drop.
Your fridge is stocked with drinks and there is a snack box ready to be enjoyed. Both are replenished regularly. There’s no reason to leave. We had a host – his name was Jason and honestly it was a joy to have him join us for a chat throughout the day. He talked to George about the animals, about the other SeaWorld parks we were visiting. We learnt about him and his studies, his passion for animal care as well as all the research and conservation happening across the parks. Jason, it was a pleasure – good luck with your studies.
Snorkeling in the Grand Reef
The boys couldn’t wait for this part of our day and spent so much time in and out of the Grand Reef. I didn’t quite make it as I get a little anxious when putting my head under water. After hearing their tales I really wish I had done so as it sounded very magical. They were quite literally swimming with thousands of fish. I couldn’t believe the size of the rays that were swimming by George, they made by seven year old look tiny. Whilst the boys were swimming amongst the fish and rays I took the opportunity to walk up and around the cove, there were some really great viewing points and I managed to see exactly what animals they were swimming with. They tell me this was their favorite part, second to the dolphin swim. I also saw the sharks which was pretty amazing. Don’t forget to wander around, the scenery is so so beautiful.
Hand feed tropical birds
This part of the park would be so easy to miss so do look out for the signs nearby the lazy river. The Explorers Aviary was pretty fantastic. So colourful and full of life. Immersive and educational. We picked up a leaflet, some pots of food and wandered around spotting all the birds on the information sheet. We had so much fun. It was pretty darn large and totally unexpected. The birds were so beautiful and we got to hand feed them which was very special. The animal care specialists were on hand to talk to you about the many species and point out the ones that like to sit up high.
Lazy river and waterfalls
The lazy river and waterfalls were really refreshing. It was lovely to float around this area together, there are some deeper areas so for those not so confident in the water you can pick up a life jacket. We are all confident swimmers so wore wet suits. I also opted for a float whereas the boys swam ahead. The caves are beautiful with lots of opportunity to grab underwater shots on your go pro. The views as you swim around the river are ever so beautiful, as are the waterfalls and coves you can stop off on the way around for a little rest. We passed our cabana and couldn’t wait to return with a frozen cocktail and bread pretzels for George.
- Arrive early – you can arrive from 7am and will receive a lovely welcome with fresh coffee and a huge smile from the staff. You can also head straight for breakfast and maybe even enjoy a second sitting. It is all you can eat
- Book the additional experiences before you arrive as they sell out quickly – we lucked out as George needed to be 10 for the ones he wanted to do. I guess that’s a reason to return
- Your day is all inclusive – what that includes is swimming with dolphins, wet suits, floats & snorkel equipment, snorkel with fish & rays in the Grand Reef, sunscreen (as it is one that protects the animals), lockers and towels, animal encounters, hand feed tropical birds, and of course food and drink* – we really enjoyed the food and drink. There was so much choice you won’t be disappointed
- The lazy river can get quite deep in parts so consider wearing a vest. The floor can also be quite rough, it didn’t bother us but I can imagine some folk wouldn’t like it
- Try to avoid the typical eating times – visit before 12 or after 2 and don’t forget to pick up treats throughout the day from the bars dotted around the cove. We found the Laguna Grill to be really busy, so in a bid to escape the crowds we carried our lunch back to our cabana and enjoyed it with a view
- *Top tip* Parking fees – the 3 for 2 Ticket and Discovery Cove Ultimate Package includes free parking at all parks and are only available to purchase in the UK
* I believe the drinks package has changed since our visit in April 2019 however you do still receive free beer and wine. It is the cocktails and premium drinks that you must upgrade for
I have written a series of posts about our four days exploring the SeaWorld Parks. If you are looking to visit Aquatica then you can read Five Reasons Why You Should Visit here. And if a day of animal interactions, roller coasters & Sesame Street is what you are looking for then you can read about our trip to SeaWorld here. And lastly if you are after a park that has a mixture of animals and some of the best roller coasters then Busch Gardens is the park for you.