JIS News

Dolphin Cove, one of Jamaica’s north coast marine attractions, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, has become the preferred destination for many, outgrowing its present status, and so, has plans to expand its programme, at an estimated cost of $250 million. The expansion programme, which is expected to be completed for the new winter tourist season, will extend to Montego Bay, and is aimed at doubling the capacity in Ocho Rios.
Marilyn Burrowes, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Dolphin Cove tells JIS News that the dolphin experience, has become extremely popular with hotel guests, local visitors and cruise ship guests, “and so we are working on this expansion programme”. She says a lot of visitors come to the two-and-a-half year-old Dolphin Cove, which is located on 1.6 hectares of ocean-front property, with a natural rain forest, and operates an interaction programme, where one can swim with, or touch the dolphins. Giving details about the programme, Mrs. Burrowes says guests are allowed to make friends, ‘touch and have an up-close experience with the dolphins; allowed to dance, play, be kissed and caressed by a dolphin while swimming in deep water; and allowed to enjoy various activities, which include ‘foot push’ and play time.
“But Dolphin Cove, is not only about dolphins, we operate a nature walk, where you can interact with other animals such as the donkey, goat, sheep, the Iguana lizard, Jamaican yellow snake, turtles, ducks, birds, as well as the conch. You can meet them, talk with them and feel them, and as part of this walk, we have also created a coffee plantation, giving our visitors the history of coffee in Jamaica,” she says.
The marketing executive points out that a cove has also been created where “visitors can relax and enjoy themselves with our local dance – the limbo, reggae and calypso, and they can taste our local Jamaican rum and our best liqueurs, get to feel and learn our language (patois), and we give them a little talk on our beach wear and music”.
“A lot of our visitors come here and enjoy the feeding of the sharks and a lot of them enjoy touching the tame animals, because they do not have that experience when they visit the zoo,” Mrs. Burrowes says, adding that “our local visitors like the week-ends, but we can only open for half day, because we need to rest the dolphins, so this expansion programme is necessary to accommodate the growing demand”. She informs that the plan to expand to Montego Bay comes as cruise ships are asking that a similar attraction be set up in the second city, to allow their passengers to have a mix of entertainment.
Noting that Dolphin Cove did not only cater to visitors from abroad, she points out that there are a lot of local visitors coming from schools as far as Kingston, Negril, Port Antonio and Montego Bay.
She says the Cove also welcomes persons who are physically challenged as its makes provision for persons in wheelchairs to enjoy the facilities.Mrs. Burrowes says the attraction employs 130 persons, “and with the expansion, this number is expected to increase by 100”.
Regarding training, the Marketing Vice-President says “although all the dolphins came with their trainers from Mexico, “we have been fortunate to find Jamaicans who can swim and love the animals and now, and they have been taught and trained as handlers of the animals, but now, we are very proud of them because they are actually doing the dolphin programme on their own”.
She notes that the employees also receive training on how to attend to the animals, “because they need to know how to feed them, balance their diet, and keep them well, and this only comes by a bonding”.
In addition, Mrs. Burrowes says there is a programme with the Runaway Bay Heart Hotel and Training Institute, from where students come to Dolphin Cove on work experience, “and we are very proud of them because the girls who come, learn very quickly and work very well, so we help a lot with employment”. Dolphin Cove, which also has a wide variety of dolphin souvenirs and unique Jamaican art and craft, as well as videos of dolphin experiences on sale, opens from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week; and is in walking distance from the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios.

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