DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Our first trip to the Florida Keys was in July 2003, not the best time of year to travel south but when you’re tied to the school holidays what can you do?
We decided to visit the Dolphin Research Centre at Grassy Key on the way down, we looked into it on the internet before we left the UK and booked a dolphin experience as a surprise for our 3 girls. We drove down from Orlando on a hot sunny day but as we reached the town of LaBelle the skies turned black and we drove through the worst weather we have experienced there. The temperature plummeted, the car was battered by hailstones and lighting struck a telegraph pole at the side of the road sending out a blue flash and smoke. We had to pull off the road for a while till the worst of it passed and I have to say it was quite scary. We pressed on and shortly afterwards the Florida weather changed again as it does and soon we were back in bright sunshine.
We stopped off at the Tourist Information Center in Key Largo to find accommodation for the night somewhere near to Grassy Key. (We found out at this point that it was mini lobster season and not the best time to visit the keys as everywhere would be full of fishermen! ) We managed to get rooms in the Ocean Beach Club in Marathon Key, this place was right on the seafront and the restaurant next door was absolutely wonderful. It also had a tiki bar which was nice to sit outside in the evening and have a drink overlooking the sea.
The next morning we set off for our visit to the Dolphin Research Centre, the girls were really excited and it was a lovely day. We had done Discovery Cove previously and really enjoyed it but this place was less contrived, more real and much less expensive! The girls stood on a submerged platform and were able to interact with the dolphins, there is an option to swim with the dolphins as well. They absolutely loved it, we had all the statutory photographs taken and they were in the water for about 20 minutes. After that we were able to wander round at our leisure, watching the dolphins and finding out about the work being done at the center. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, it was a great experience and we left there mid afternoon for the final part of our journey down to Key West.
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