Tall Tales in Curacao

Dolphin Academy CuracaoWould you believe me if I told you that I found a place to quench my adventurous side yet it’s so family-friendly that even Athena, at 15 months old, can participate? At the Dolphin Academy Curacao, the Dolphin Encounter is accessible for all ages. Today, we were both able to touch, hug, and kiss a dolphin while learning all about them. Rather than claiming to be family-friendly but then having high age restrictions, the Dolphin Academy in Curacao is an actual adventure for the entire family.

We stood in waist deep water as the dolphin interacted with us for almost an hour. Athena attentively watched the trainer touch the dolphin and explain the best ways to interact with our new friend.

Dolphin Academy Curacao

At first, she was hesitant; she held me tightly and turned her face toward my body each time the dolphin approached, but after watching me rub, touch, and even kiss the dolphin, she started to relax. While I was petting the dolphin, I noticed Athena reaching her hand across my body and putting it on the dolphin’s skin. I worried that Athena might scratch her, but she was gentle. She giggled when her hand reached the fin and it was a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. My daughter, at 15 months, was having an interaction that most people never get to experience in their lifetime.

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The trainer was as friendly as the dolphin. He was patient with Athena and when he knew she was ready, he had the dolphin give her a kiss. I could feel Athena tense in my arms as the dolphin rested her lips on Athena’s chin. Athena realized that the dolphin was kissing her and she turned her head and blew a kiss back to the dolphin.

Dolphin Academy Curacao

I was in heaven. It was like I was experiencing it all for the first time too. To see the world through Athena’s eyes is the most beautiful gift in the world.

Dolphin Academy Curacao

I came to Curacao because of the Dolphin Academy. After researching family-friendly possibilities, the Dolphin Encounter with Athena was the most “bucket list” adventure I could envision. But sometimes we are limited by our imaginations because I could never have imagined the joy and happiness that it would bring both of us. If you wonder why I travel with a toddler, just look at the expression on our faces as we explore Curacao.


53 thoughts on “Tall Tales in Curacao

    • Thank you! Tomorrow we’re going to the Curaçao Ostrich Farm as the family-fun continues. Have you ever been to an ostrich farm before? I’m not really sure what to expect but I’m sure it will be really cool.


      • I’m ornithophobic. Doesn’t matter if it is an ostrich, a peacock, or a tiny hummingbird. Couldn’t do the ostrich farm. My ex husband used to tell me I was convinced that the tiny birds were the size of California Condors. Have fun though.


  1. Wow! I absolutely LOVE these pictures!! Athena is so gorgeous and I love how the dolphin is kissing both of you! You’re a great mom for starting her world exploration so young. She will be such a well rounded girl as she ages. 🙂


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  3. How wonderful the adventure was captured on camera to be lived over and over again. When I was living in California we had an emu farm down the street. I think they are about the same size as an ostrich. One day my sister’s school class went on an excursion and Tina, being the smallest in her class, got to ride one of the emu. I will ever forget the photo of that…her sitting atop that big bird with a look of delight on her face. Your daughter is so lucky to be able to do this we you. What fun for the family.


  4. Reading this gave me such JOY, I’m so happy your daughter found the beauty of the dolphin a gentle touch and gift of love. THIS my dear is added to MY bucket list….


  5. This is so timely. My husband and I are swimming with the dolphins tomorrow at 6 flags park in Northern California. It was given to us to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It was on my bucket list and we had to wait a bit longer than Athena but at least we finally are going to experience this fabulous day.


  6. I’m sure that is an amazing experience for her, to feel that skin and get that kind of interaction from such an intriguing and sensitive creature. I can imagine how exciting that is as a mom too! It is sad that more people don’t experience these creatures up close. I will never forget the regret I have in not being more brave and getting into the water when there were wild dolphins at a spot I camped in Florida several days in a row. Some say the wild ones could be dangerous, but they were there so many times and I wanted and wanted my daughter to experience them up close, but I sat there on the sidelines(shoreline) just looking. Even that was awesome though! I love your pictures!


  7. Lovely! Swimming with the dolphins was definitely a highlight for me.. What country is Curacao? I’ve only known about the liqueur never heard of it as a place 🙂


  8. While I’m sure the dolphins were having as much fun as you at the time, do you not think they would enjoy being able to go home to their families in the wild after a hard days work and some hard earned fish treats? The best way to experience dolphins is in the wild, there you know THEY have chosen to interact with you! It looks as though it is a well taken care of dolphin, but might I suggest that when Sea Raven becomes a fully functioning charter business,(and having our little girl on board I think makes us pretty toddler friendly too!), you get in touch and we take you to see some dolphins at home in their own environment on mutually beneficial terms!


    • I think taking the kids to interact with animals is a great opportunity to discuss (well, think over, I guess, with a 15mo) questions of welfare and ethics. There’s certainly a lot to consider, and to teach.

      On the one hand, you can’t beat the wild for giving animals the opportunity to do what they’re born to do. On the other hand, conscientious zoos and wildlife parks can contribute to conservation efforts, and even individual animal welfare, despite holding animals in captivity (and some operators who interact with wild animals do substantial harm, despite letting the animals go free). Definitely worth delving behind the scenes to find out what the story is with each establishment.


  9. Great inspiration for vacationing with my daughter. At 5 I still love watching her discover things. I am going to add Curacao to my list of places. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures and for your comment about us sometimes limiting ourselves by our imaginations.


  10. What a brave little girl!! So glad she followed your lead and actually touched the dolphin! Love the pictures! Have fun at the ostrich farm!!


  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward to reading through your adventures and maybe even getting a few ideas 🙂 I swam with dolphins in high school and would jump at the opportunity to visit the majestic creatures again. Your post makes me want to book a trip right now! Good luck getting through your 2013 bucket list!!


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  15. i love how you ended…traveling with a toddler! we have never let our littles hinder our adventures together. i did notice how you said you didn’t make the african safari for 2013. my hubby and daughter just got back from africa and made not only a safari but a lion park. i highly recommend both when there is time! loving your blog.


  16. These photos are lovely . However, it saddens me that they will encourage others to continue the practice of making these sentient, intelligent animals as tourist attractions here to entertain humans. Unfortunately, most marine biologists agree that swim with the dolphin attractions are very bad for the dolphin. Sometimes the dolphin are captured in the wild or breed for those purposes. Captive dolphin live shorter, less healthy lives. Why not go on a sunset sail to see wild dolphins.


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