November 2021 - Florida - Day 7
A bright and early start saw us on the road at 7.45am to get petrol from the local Wawa station before heading off to Discovery Cove for the day.
This is a place which is like an all-inclusive resort where all the drinks and food is included in the price of admission. That price is not cheap and is subject to dynamic pricing depending on the day of the year. Today was one the cheapest days of the year and was part of the package that included free Sea World and Aquatica tickets during a 14-day period. It made for quite good value overall.
We had been quite worried about the weather as you must book the day way in advance, so we had no choice but to go today. The temperature was due to drop 10 degrees to but should remain sunny and clear and we were worried it may be too cold. In the end we needn’t have worried, the temperature was perfect all day. In fact, I think if it was any hotter then it would have been uncomfortable, and we would have had to seek shade for much of it.
Our tickets were just for entrance and did not include the ‘dolphin encounter’ that is the primary reason people come here. We were very lucky to have already done this previously and did not feel the need to do so again. It would also have added another 50% to the ticket price.
We were soon checked in for the day and were advised to head for breakfast straight away. I was pleased with this as by now I had a rumbly in my tumbly.
The breakfast had a hot option which included egg, sausage and potato. It wasn’t half bad. We also got with it the best cup of tea we have had so far this trip.
It was then time to get our wet suits. Karen & I went for the full half body suit whilst Neil went for a sleeveless top. His was certainly much easier to get into than ours.
Karen & Neil decided to go and feed the birds in the large walk-through aviary but came back disappointed as it was closed for refurbishment.
We then decided to lay in the sun for a while. We selected sun beds as our base opposite where people were having their dolphin encounters which meant we were laying only about 20 feet from where the dolphins were all playing and squealing with what sounded like fun (although Neil described the noise as one of terror!). It was all terribly relaxing and lovely.
One of the many good features of Discovery Cove is that have many more sunbeds and places to sit than they allow into the park. This gives it a real feel of spacious ness and exclusivity. With the pandemic they are still restricting the numbers even more giving everyone even more space.
After a while Neil & I went to try the Tropical River. It was annoying we couldn’t go all the way round due to the Aviary work being done, so at one point we had to get out and then re-join it at a later point. This is not a Lazy River and is meant to be much more natural. The water is warm, and you can float around but that is where the similarity ends. The floor is rough and uneven. For parts it is 8 feet deep whilst in others it quickly changes to about 2 feet. Parts of it are sandy, parts stony, parts rocky and some smooth areas. I suppose it all added to the experience, but it means you have to be on your guard and watching out the entire time. I wasn’t entirely convinced by it and knew that Karen as not a confident swimmer would not be happy going round it. The highlight of the river is the Marmoset Island set in one part of it. I thought it was a cool way of being able to see the little Monkeys whilst going round. There were supposedly some otters in another part, but they were being shy when we were there.
After another sit and wallow on the loungers for a while, it was then our allocated lunch time. There were no queues. Neil and I had the Grilled Churrasco Steak
whilst Karen had a burger along with 2 desserts as she couldn’t decide which one to try. Again, the food wasn’t bad considering the numbers they are catering for.
It was time for another sit down with a cup of tea as we were having such a tiring day before heading back to our base. Neil then went off to snorkel in the Shark Reef whilst I took Karen in the gentle pool area of the Tropical River where we happily floated in the sun for a while.
We dried out in the sun for a while before going to explore the Shark Reef ourselves. I knew Karen wouldn’t want to go right in the water with them and so we settled on walking in to about waist deep. We still had many large fish around us and at one point an enormous Ray came up to Karen and swam completely around her.
On the way back we nosed in some of the cabanas you can rent for the day to make your day even ‘better’. They start at $199 and go up to $499. We decided they were totally not worth the extra cost, especially now with so few people around.
On the way back we called at one of the many free snack sections where Karen had some more wine and took a bottle of beer back with her. I settled for come Coke Zero and a lovely fresh warm pretzel.
By now people were starting to leave but we lingered a while. Neil returned from his snorkel and another float round the Tropical River. This time he had managed to see the Otters which had pleased him.
Overall Discovery Cove is an expensive day out. However, it is one way that you can get to legitimately be in the water with Dolphins. Also, if you manage to go off season and get a ticket package then price does work out at about 50% of the cost of a day in Disney.
We headed back to the Villa where Karen put some washing on.
About 6.45pm we headed back out to Outback again. Same order as before and same positive outcome with excellent food.
From here we headed to Sunset Walk which is part of the new Margaritaville Development not far from the Villa on the 192. It is an upmarket restaurant and shopping area. It is not complete but looked and seemed nice as we walked around. For the first time ever though in Florida, it was flipping freezing walking around. We all resorted to wearing sweatshirts and that didn’t feel enough. Neil predicted we would have ice on the car in the morning. However, the drop in temperature had been predicted and all should be well again from tomorrow. It didn’t dampen our spirits or thoughts on Sunset Walk, and we agreed we would come back to eat here at some point.
As it was still relatively early, we thought we would have a quick whizz round the nearest Walmart for the first time this trip. We gave ourselves 20 minutes and arranged a meeting point. I reckon the number of people wearing masks in the store was about the same as we have been seeing at home in Norwich. We bought a few things and then headed back to the Villa in order to prepare for another hopefully fun packed day tomorrow.