Things to do in Florida {Series} – Theater of the Sea

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Category: Travel
Published Date: 09/28/2018
Comments: 53

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During our recent stay at Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada, FL, we were given the opportunity to check out a local favorite. I’m continuing our “Things to Do in Florida” series with Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, FL.

Welcome to Theater of the Sea

Located in Islamorada in the beautiful Florida Keys, Theater of the Sea is family owned and operated since 1946 and one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world. The lagoons and lush, tropical gardens are home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, sea turtles, tropical and game fish, sharks, stingrays, alligators, marine invertebrates, and birds.

Theater of the Sea offers dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows, a bottomless boat ride, a lagoon-side beach, as well as a fish and reptile tour with tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, alligators, and crocodiles. There is something for all ages to enjoy! You can even paint with the animals and take home a painting!

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Endangered Sea Turtles

Theater of the Sea is home to four different species of endangered sea turtles. Each of the sea turtles on display are considered non-releasable for different reasons, including birth defects, buoyancy disorders, boat strikes, entanglement injuries, and predatory attacks. All sea turtles have an assigned primary caregiver, are hand fed a specific diet, participate in daily training and enrichment sessions, and receive routine veterinary care.

Seeing these beautiful but injured creatures broke our hearts. While some are against places like Theater of the Sea, claiming that the animals are considered slaves, I believe that facilities like these are the heroes, taking animals in and giving them a better life where they would have been more in danger out in the wild.

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Swimming with Dolphins

What drew me to Theater of the Sea was that there are a lot of ways to interact with the marine life. Years ago, when I was in Cancun, I was given the opportunity to swim with dolphins. It was an experience I will never forget. I knew that my daughters had to do it and since it was Lucia’s 13th birthday trip, it was the perfect time for her to experience it. When they offered to allow both her and her best friend, Caitlyn, to experience it, I was more than grateful and probably more excited about it than they were.

While they were both a little nervous, it didn’t take long until they both felt at ease. The staff was so thorough, giving them instructions and walking them through exactly what was going to happen during their swim. Dolphins are such beautiful, gentle animals and they really enjoyed every moment they got with them. Lucia kept referring to them as the puppies of the sea.

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Lucia’s First Kiss

I never imagined I would be present for my daughter’s first kiss, but there it was. The wettest, slipperiest, most public display of affection ever and we couldn’t look away. Lucia couldn’t help but giggle through the entire thing and I loved every second of it. It was awesome!

She and Caitlyn got to interact with the dolphins, swim around the lagoon and perform behaviors like dorsal tows, hugs,and foot pushes. The smiles on their faces were priceless!

My Disappointment

The only disappointment for me, as a photographer, was where they asked us to stand during the interaction. We weren’t allowed to get closer to the girls while they swam (for the safety of the animals). We had our sight blocked by the trainers and staff photographer who were working right in front of the dolphins. Getting good shots was nearly impossible and watching your child swim with dolphins for the first time is something you want to capture for them. Luckily, I was able to get a few shots and we wound up purchasing the photos that their staff photographer took so that I could have a couple of close up shots.

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theater of the sea, sea turtles, things to do in florida, swimming with dolphins, florida, key west, islamorada, florida, beach, florida beach, road trip, family road trip, family vacation, travel, trip, mommy blog, mom blogger, family blog, family influencer, instagram, mother, father, tween blog, dad blog, travel family blog, United States, family travel blogs, 2018, mom blog, top, best, mommy blogger, daddy blog, tween blogger, child brand influencer, the super mom life, dad blog, dad blogger
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A year after Hurricane Irma hit the Keys, Theater of the Sea is still working to repair their beautiful grounds, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting and experiencing all that they have to offer now. It was a day that my girls will never forget and I’m sure we will be back in the future (this time with a zoom lens) 😉

Have you ever gone swimming with dolphins? Comment below and let us know!

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Theater of the Sea offers dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows, a bottomless boat ride, a lagoon-side beach, tropical fish, sharks and more!
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I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. I have family in Florida and I’d never heard of this place before. I would love to check this out the next time I visit Florida.

  2. How wonderful that they got to swim with the ‘puppies of the sea.’ 🙂 My daughter just turned 20, but I’d still like to have her do this… I think she’d love it.

  3. Theatre of the sea seems like an ideal Florida destination. I have never been but an now convinced!

  4. looks like everyone had an amazing time. we haven’t been there but have had friends that have and they had a blast! love it 🙂

  5. That looks like the place to be this summer! I would lover to go swim with dolphins.

  6. I want to swim with dolphins too! My niece would love Theater of the Sea. i hope we can visit it.

  7. Florida seems to have an endless amount of fun activities! I would love to see this one! I agree with you about the photography. I think they wanted you to have to buy their photos.

  8. This is a great place to take the children. I believe it will help raise their awareness to care for the environment, to help prevent the extinction of marine and land animals. My grandchildren are still pretty young to swim with the dolphins, so maybe when they are a bit older, we’ll give them that experience.

  9. Glad you have a really good time there! I have never been to Florida yet, maybe in the future. So I can swim with the dolphinnn

  10. What a cool experience. I’ve never heard of the Theater of the Sea, but it sounds like the kids had a blast. We have been wanting to go to Florida for a while and this would be a good one to put on our list.

  11. That looks like an amazing trip. The worst part of these bog posts though is i’m slowly learning just how little there is in my own area lol

  12. Florida is such a destination with endless options to explore. We visited Florida some ten years back now your post makes me plan soon.

  13. What a fun adventure! We’re headed to Florida next summer and we might need to check this out. I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins!

  14. That looks like it would have been such an amazing experience. I do have to laugh how you were there for your daughter’s first kiss. Although as a parent I think I would be comfortable with that kiss. 😉

  15. I’ve always wanted to visit Florida. I hope to visit there at some point soon so this will be great!

  16. My kids absolutely love to do the things like this when we are in Florida. Such a great experience!

  17. This looks like such a fun place to visit! My kids would absolutely love it there. I will check it out on our next trip to Florida!

  18. I have always wanted to swim with the dolphins. This looks like it would be an amazing experience.

  19. Nope, never heard of/been to this place. Sounds as if your family had a great time, though! Your daughter’s first kiss…LOL!

  20. This looks like it would be such an amazing trip. I have always wanted to go and see the sea animals up close.

  21. I live in Florida and never even heard of this place. I have to check it out because I love taking my baby girl to places like these.

  22. I actually have never been to a park like that but it seems like a lot of fun. I got to swim with turtles once in the tropics and really enjoyed that.

  23. I lived in florida for a while and I can’t believe we never did this! Why does it seem like all the touirsts do this stuff but the locals dont lol

  24. The Theater of The Sea seems to be an awesome place. I can see your daughter really had a whale of a time or rather ‘dolphin’ of a time there. Nice way for the kids to understand the marine creatures.

  25. I haven’t been to fl in years. I would love to experience a day like this and kiddos would flip. So cool!!

  26. I guess it part of the strategy of the company so that their photos would be bought buy the customers. Glad you were able to snap a good one.

  27. Wow, this looks amazing! Getting to do something like this with my kid would be so much fun. We are actually planning a trip to Florida next year, I will definitely be keeping this in mind.

  28. I love visiting Florida. I have never made it down to the Keys but there are so many cool experiences to be had there.

  29. I love Islamorada, we also went to Theater of the Sea, my son had a great time there. It is great place for families.

  30. Now this looks like fun place to visit in Florida! I would love to check this out the next time I’m in FL!!

  31. I have never heard of Theater of the Seas. I would love to visit there when we are in Florida. My boys love swimming with Dolphins. This sounds like a great experience.

  32. That looks like such a fun place to visit! I would love to swim with dolphins! Hopefully someday!

  33. I love dolphins and love to see them in the water. I haven’t swam with one before but I think I want to!

  34. Florida is actually lovely. There are many things to see around and do around. Indeed it is an amazing place.

  35. What a cool experience!! My daughter SO wants to swim with dolphins and it’s not something we’ve done yet. We live in Florida too!!! Ha.

    Great recommendation 🙂

  36. This sounds like such a fun thing to do if you are in the area, I’ve always wanted to see dolphins closer in person – they seem like an amazing animal.

  37. My kids love going to see animals up close. I bet they would really enjoy a trip here. Swimming with dolphins sounds like a once in a lifetime experience.

  38. That would be so cool to watch my kids interact with the dolphins. They look like gentle animals.

  39. This would be so neat to do! My daughter is all about animals, so I know she’d love this. She has gone swimming with dolphins at Sea World before.

  40. What a very cool place! I have been to the Keys and other areas of Florida but was not familiar with this place. Thanks for sharing. Glad you were able to get a few shots of the kids – I agree, too bad they didn’t have it set up for a better view for you and other parents.

  41. I swam with dolphins in Cozumel years ago and I still remember every moment. Loved it SO much. They are awesome creatures.

  42. Looks like so much fun! I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins. So sorry that you guys couldn’t get a good view of it all though. But glad they had a great experience!!!

  43. We have plans to visit Florida over the next few years and I will definitely be considering these suggestions! Theater of the sea sounds like a great place to visit!

  44. For everyone who lives in or around Florida it is wonderful to see things to get out and see and do. Really good for all the family friendly things to do. Great for those planning a trip as well.