Photo Essay: Ocean World, Dominican Republic

in Adventure Travel / Dominican Republic / Photo Stories
royal dolphin swim at ocean world park

When I flew back to New York for my grandmother’s funeral, Ryan’s sister Carina and her two boys had just arrived to visit us in the Dominican Republic. And since I had no choice but to leave my visitors, I left Ryan behind to fulfill his role as Chief Entertainer and Favorite Uncle.

When I returned, I only had three days left with my sister-in-law and nephews to make up for lost time, so we decided to splash out (pun intended) and go on a kid-tastic adventure involving a full day at Ocean World Adventure Park, swimming with stingrays, sharks, sea lions and dolphins, and then finish off the day with a family sleepover on Hideaway, which was docked right at Ocean World Marina.

It was an incredible experience to interact with these animals and experience their strength, beauty, agility and kindness up close. I’m not sure who had more fun — me or the kids — but it seemed certain from the pie-eating grins on our faces at the end of the day that this was an experience none of us would forget anytime soon.


Note: After viewing this photo essay, a reader brought to my attention the issues activists have raised regarding dolphins in captivity, which I wasn’t aware of before we went to Ocean World. Having done some research on the subject, I wrote this follow-up post about the controversy surrounding Ocean World and dolphins in captivity.

ocean world dominican republic dolphin jump

The dolphin swim at Ocean World was the highlight of the day

ocean world park and marina dominican republic

Somewhere behind the sea lion stage is our boat in the marina

feeding stingrays at ocean world dominican republic

Xander, me, Henry and Ryan preparing to feed the stingrays

shark on my lap ocean world dominican republic

“Whoa, there’s a shark on my lap!”

sea lion and ryan ocean world dr

You vote: who’s face is funnier?!

sea lion kissing xander ocean world dr

“One day, you’ll have a beard like me, little boy.”

sea lion handstand ocean world

Sea lion doing a handstand while the rest of us look far less impressive

royal dolphin swim ocean world dominican republic

It was the first time any of us had touched a dolphin, and we were ecstatic.

dolphin swim ocean world dominican republic

“Whoa whoa whoa, where are we gooooiiiingggg?!”

dolphin swim dominican republic ocean world

Xander looked like he’d been swimming with dolphins all his life!

dolphin kiss ocean world dominican republic

Henry’s first kiss from a dolphin.

dolphin hug ocean world dominican republic

Dolphin hugs are amazing.

dolphin dance ocean world dominican republic

We’re in the Dominican Republic, so of course the dolphins can merengue.

lovebirds ocean world dominican republic

Even seeing lovebirds was an interactive experience at Ocean World.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • Windtraveler May 21, 2013, 4:00 pm

    I love dolphins and think it’s incredible that you got to experience them up close and personal, but I side with the reader who brought your attention to the repercussions of this type of thing. The movie you should watch is called “The Cove”. It will break your heart into a million pieces and might change your life, no joke. I wrote about it on our blog years ago…either way, glad you had so much fun!

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:39 am

      Hey Brittany,
      I just rented “The Cove” to watch tonight, as it came up in my internet research regarding a court case with Ocean World specifically. Since the message from that reader, I’ve spent half my day doing internet research on issues with dolphins and animals in captivity and I’m genuinely concerned and interested. I’m a huge animal lover, so I know already my heart will be broken by that movie.
      However, I’m reserving judgement until I finish my research, but I’ll definitely be writing about it… can you send me a link to that post you wrote? I don’t remember it, off hand. And when I say I’m reserving judgement, I’m exploring all moral angles as I am not completely innocent when it comes to animal captivity…after all, I have two cats who live with me, in captivity. So I’m looking hard at dolphins, but then also how moral issues there may or may not carry over to all animals in captivity and why… it gets messier the longer I spend on the internet!

  • hunterwindham May 21, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Hi Tosha you got some beautful pict of all of you & ur so right my wife & I did just as you did while we vac in the Donimican For years i thould i would not like it there but i was so wrong we really had a great stay Keep on sailing..
    Best regard Wally & Rebecca in Hunter Mtn Rentals….. I will send you a e mail
    about your beautiful Chalet @ the end of the road……

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:38 am

      We’ve kind of fallen in love with the Dominican Republic! So glad you got in touch… when we’re back in Hunter next, we’ll have to get in touch with you!

  • Paul Barrett May 21, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Great pictures!!

  • somanybeaches May 21, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Yup, “the more you know” can be a real debbie downer sometimes. 😉 Glad you had the chance to have a fun time with them before the controversy muddled it all.

  • Michelle May 21, 2013, 7:16 pm

    Looks like so much fun!

  • Mathew August 10, 2013, 3:26 am

    wow.. amazing pictures..

    • Tasha Hacker August 12, 2013, 6:25 pm

      Thanks, Matthew! I can’t take credit for them, though – Ocean World Photographers took them 🙂

Leave a Comment