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Faith-based trip to Bahamas

Dolphin Encounter, photo by Brian Jewell

The waters surrounding the resort town of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island are everything you would expect of a Caribbean paradise: clear, turquoise and luxuriously warm. But I’m not here just to relax on the beach — I’ve set out to have a face-to-face encounter with a dolphin.

Water sports are popular here in Freeport, and groups can choose from experiences that range from sightseeing and fishing charters to diving and underwater exploration activities. I picked the Dolphin Encounter program operated by a company called Unexso and am in for an unforgettable experience.

Our excursion begins with a 20-minute boat ride from the bay in Freeport to the animal sanctuary where the dolphin encounters take place. These aren’t wild dolphins we’ll be meeting, but animals that have been rescued or raised in captivity and trained to interact with humans.

When we reach the site, my small group of dolphin adventurers is seated on a platform stretched out over the water in an enclosed cove. Our legs dangle in the water, and two trainers introduce the dolphins who will be entertaining us: Indy and Andros.

On the trainer’s commands, the dolphins leap up from the waters in front of us and perform all sorts of tricks, delightfully splashing us along the way. One by one, we make our way to a small platform in waist-deep water where the dolphins come right up to us and “kiss” us on the cheek. The trainers show us how to give the dolphins special commands, and we each get to lead them in a trick.

An hour later, I’m still wearing a smile. The dolphin encounter makes a perfect ending to the series of great experiences I’ve had in the Bahamas. I’ll leave tomorrow knowing that I’ve made real connections with this country — both its animals and its people.

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism


Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.