Swimming with sea lions was the highlight of our family’s day at Coral World in St. Thomas.
A couple of years ago our family went on a spring break cruise of the Eastern Caribbean with Holland America on the ms Eurodam. One of the ports of call was St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we decided to spend our day at Coral World Ocean Park on Coki Beach. Coral World is a marine park that has exhibits, a touch pool and an underwater observatory where guests can view non-captive fish going about their day in the Caribbean. There are also a number of activities which must be reserved ahead of time and require an additional fee. These include: Sea Lion Encounter; Sea Lion Swim; Sea Trek; Snuba; Shark Encounter; Turtle Encounter; and the Nautilus Semi-Submarine.
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Check reviews and book tickets in advance for Coral World Ocean Park on TripAdvisor
When I discussed the options with Katie she was very keen to try swimming with the sea lions. She had been swimming with dolphins a couple of times in the past and this seemed much more unique. Emma was too small for the swim so we decided to make a reservation for my husband and Katie. When we arrived at Coral World and checked the two of them in for their activity we learned that there were no observers allowed. There was a professional photographer in the pool with them and, of course, photos were available for sale after the experience. Emma and I went off on our own to explore the exhibits and only got to hear afterward about how much fun it had been.
Prior to entering the water guests have an orientation session to learn about the 4 male sea lions from Uruguay that make their home at Coral World. Following the orientation, J.A. and Katie donned life vests and met their new sea lion friend named Franco on deck before entering the water.
Once the introductions were complete the three of them got into the pool to get to know each other a little better.
They played a little catch.
And Franco showed off his jumping (and splashing) abilities.
Before long the experience was over and Franco gave Katie a big, wet kiss goodbye. Clearly he had as much fun as she did.
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Preparing for Takeoff
How memorable– although I get that they don’t want you to take pictures, they should let a parent go in with a child. We look forward to swimming with sea lions– maybe someday in the Galapogos Islands? I wonder if it is as safe there with the sea lions.
I was very disappointed that I couldn’t watch – especially after I saw the photos and saw how much fun they were having! The Galapagos Islands are a dream trip for me too – I’m really hoping to travel there before my older daughter graduates high school.
What a shame they’ve got such a racket going with the photographs. I would have wanted to watch, too.
Camels & Chocolate
I’ve seen plenty of swimming with dolphins posts, but honestly I didn’t know swimming with sea lions was a think! I love the one of him kissing her–too cute!
Wow what a brave girl! This looks like fun. I wonder how old you have to be to do this: my guys are three so I think they might be a little young.
I believe that there was a weight requirement of 50lbs – I don’t remember there being an age requirement but I think they would need to either be able to swim or quite comfortable in the water.