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.