Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo offer several experiences for people who enjoy getting up close and personal with marine life. Snorkeling and scuba hotspots abound and even casual swimmers spot creatures amid the habitats of local tide pools and lagoons. For an extraordinary aquatic adventure, participate in a dolphin encounter. Ixtapa’s aquarium, Delfiniti, offers several programs for children and adults.
The trainers take their time with both visitors and dolphins, giving all parties the chance to become comfortable with each other. The dolphins bob their heads, make squeaking sounds and wave their fins to communicate with you. As the friendship grows, the dolphins try to impress you with their leaps and somersaults. For mammals that average eight feet long and typically weigh 200 pounds they are surprisingly graceful.
The dolphins gradually swim close enough for you to pet their sleek skin. Older children and adults, who know how to swim, can try the “Belly Ride,” an exhilarating zoom across the water while holding onto the dolphin’s fins. Another ride involves two dolphins propelling your feet powerfully enough to make you rise over the water and even stand as you cross the pool.
Younger children can also experience a close encounter of the dolphin kind. They sit on a platform above the tank and watch the mammals at play. If they feel confident, they may enter the water and shake a dolphin’s pectoral fin and give it a hug or kiss. As your party exits the pool, watch as the dolphins wave their fins goodbye and leap high in the air.
Expand upon this memorable experience by chartering a panga from Zihuatanejo’s pier. Your driver can direct your group to the dolphins’ natural habitat where you will also spot diverse bird species, large sea turtles and jumping rays. There will be no hugs or kisses, but the dolphins often interact with groups by swimming and playing alongside the craft, often treating spectators to their form of water ballet.