Holguin, Cuba – Swimming with the Dolphins
As mentioned in the previous post, I was on vacation in Holguin, Cuba and staying at the Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa resort – Holguin Cuba. There were a number of add-on excursions offered from this resort and I chose to go on a couple of them. One of the excursions that I went on was the All Day Catamaran Tour with Dolphins and Jet Skis, an excursion from the resort with a cost of approximately $80. We left early in the morning for a nearby marina about 30 minutes away. It was a nice drive and you could see a lot of houses and Cubans going around their daily lives.
When we reached the marina where the catamarans were docked we where split into two groups (by hotel) for going to swim with the dolphins first or jet ski. I got to go jet skiing first.
Now, for the record, what you may consider a jet ski by Skidoo is not quite what they had. More apt description was tiny boat with an over-sized motor and handle bar controls. That aside, it operated in a similar fashion (rotate the handle, the skidoo goes forward, turn the handle bar and it turns, same basic procedure with the Cuban version).
The jet skis where sized for two people and, after they gave us our life jackets, they let people pair up and pick a boat. The plan/goal was that that would head out of the large bay and out to the ocean, then stop on a small beach, so people could switch and ride back. Everyone else was a couple and, being the only single, I actually ended up with my own boat.
The guide jumped on one boat and told everyone to follow him. There was a set of buoys to mark the path we were to take but he told us not to worry about hitting any under water rocks etc. This bay was quite deep, and off he went… fast. We all followed and I quickly discovered, although physics should dictate this…, that being only one person on the boat compared to the others who were two persons per boat, I had a definite speed advantage over the other tourists. Since I was able to go much faster, I was able to weave a lot and still keep up with the group, who were doing a lot of their own weaving as well.
The bay was quite wavy and we were able to get some air time from the bigger bumps. We even had a patrol boat (Cuban Military with Machine Guns and everything) drive by and they caused even bigger wakes as we passed by. At the beach some couple switched spots and we headed back to the marina, in a similar fashion. One couple fell off their boat on the way back when they bounced off a buoy that they got too close to. I think that they thought that it was just a big inflated red ball floating in the bay rather than the anchored buoy that it was. They were able to safely swim back to their craft sicne it hadn’t gone very far. If your not pushing the throttle a bit forward the boat stops running with an automatic off switch.
After our session of fun out on the Cuban jet-skis, we got on our catamaran and sailed around the island. Some drinks, sun and good music and plenty to see.
Eventually, we arrived at the dolphinarium, which was basically a cage in the ocean for the dolphins that they kept.
We got PFD again and got to swim around with a dolphin, which was pretty cool; as I have never seen one up so close. That said, they are like pure muscle and if you didn’t watch their position you could end up with a tail in the face as they took off – ouch.
Some people elected to be pushed out of the water by two dolphins, which was a neat trick but I decided to just take pictures of that instead.
Afterwards, we headed to a floating restaurant where they served us a rock lobster dinner that was quite good.