What to do at the Weekend: Visit Discovery Cove in Florida
While on holiday in sunny Florida, we spent an incredible day at Discovery Cove. All we can say is wow!If you’re looking to spend a day relaxing in a paradise…then this is for you.
What is Discovery Cove?
Discovery Cove in Florida is an all-inclusive day resort designed to replicate a tropical paradise you might find hidden away in the Caribbean.
It is part of the Sea World family and is situated just across from the main Sea World park on Central Florida Parkway.
During your visit you’ll get the opportunity to:
- relax on one of their many white sandy beaches
- wind your way down the lazy river
- snorkel with tropical fish
- and even swim with Dolphins!
And that’s only naming a few of the amazing activities you can do.
If you’re spending time in Florida, you’re definitely going to want to add this one to your list.
An unforgettable day at Discovery Cove
Our day at Discovery Cove was definitely the highlight of our Florida trip.
After running around theme parks like big kids for days on end, getting to relax in the sun was just what we needed.
The cove is a one-day experience, so you’re going to want to get there at opening to make the most of your time.
What Time Does Discovery Cove Open?
Discovery Cove opens at 7am. Get there no later than 8.30am to really make the most of your day.
The waterways at Discovery Cove open a little later at 9am.
This will allow you enough time to have a little bit of breakfast and collect your wet suit.
Getting Started at Discovery Cove
Luckily, all your food and drink is included (with some exceptions we’ll talk about later) so you don’t have to worry about racking up an enormous bill while you’re there!
On arrival we were greeted by friendly staff who explained how everything worked, told us timings for our dolphin experience and booked us a slot for lunch.
We then popped for a cooked breakfast and plenty of coffee at the Laguna Grill to fuel us up for the day.
That’s where everyone starts their experience, so the restaurant does get quite busy.
Thankfully, there is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, so there’s room for everyone.
After we’d filled up on breakfast it was time for the relaxing to begin (hell yes)!
Do you have to wear wetsuits at Discovery Cove?
At Discovery Cove you’re required to wear a wetsuit or zip-up vest while in the water.
They have availability in all sizes so you don’t have to worry about finding something that fits.
You can also borrow a snorkel for the day if you so wish – which is definitely great to use while exploring the Grand Reef (more on that shortly).
So once we were kitted out, we headed for the water.
Discovery Cove’s Lazy River
The first areas we explored were the Freshwater Oasis and Wind-Away River – Discovery Cove’s lazy river.
The Wind-Away River was where we spent a lot of our day…and for good reason.
This warm lazy river winds its way around a lot of the Discover Cove site, taking you past waterfalls, through a rain forest and even through an aviary of tropical birds.
Swim freely, or grab a pool noodle and float your way along with ease.
The Freshwater Oasis gives you a great chance to see some of Discovery Cove’s wildlife.
We swam past otters and even watched a feeding talk for some adorable little marmosets.
After some time in the water, it was time to dry off and enjoy the white sand beaches of Serenity Bay.
All Inclusive Food and Drinks
We grabbed a couple of loungers (of which there are plenty) and relaxed in the warmth of the Florida sun with a few free beers!
What more could you want?
Not much if you ask us.
Next it was time for our dolphin experience, but we’ll go into details of that in the next section.
Discovering The Grand Reef
One of the incredible areas in Discover Cove is the Grand Reef where you have the chance to swim with tropical fish and rays.
Replicating a natural coral reef, this (unheated) pool is absolutely fantastic.
Thousands of brightly coloured fish swimming mere inches from you and rays of all sizes and species glide effortlessly right under you.
Everywhere we looked we spotted something amazing and we could have spent hours admiring the beauty of reef and its wildlife.
Swimming with Dolphins
Our swim with the dolphins was the best part of our day, and is something neither of us have done before.
We were lucky that the experience was actually included in our tickets when we made our booking.
There are however, plenty of price packages to choose from depending on how much you want to do.
Meeting Luna the Dolphin
The experience lasts for around half an hour and was done in small groups (there were six of us in ours).
Once in the water, our instructor introduced us to Luna – who was absolutely adorable.
We got to learn all about her, her likes and dislikes and how she spends her days at Discovery Cove.
We got to give her a little hug, swim alongside her and she even showed us some of her clever tricks!
All the dolphins are well cared for, and only do the experiences if they are up for it on the day.
The dolphins they keep at Discovery Cove Florida are all bred in captivity across Sea World’s resorts.
The ones used for the experiences are the ones who are very sociable and enjoy being around humans.
It was good to learn that none of the animals are ever forced into doing anything they don’t want to.
Luckily Luna loved interacting with us, and so she were pretty happy to show off their skills to us!
We loved every minute with Luna, and would definitely do the experience again when we next visit.
Buying Photos of the Dolphin Experience
There is a professional photographer taking photos during the experience which you can purchase from the shop on your way out.
However be warned, Discover Cove charges an extortionate amount of money for these.
Be prepared to put your hand in your pocket if you do want to take any of the photographs home with you.
How much does Discovery Cove cost?
As we mentioned previously, there are plenty of package options for your experience at Disovery Cove.
With it being part of the Sea World family, you can benefit from great options that include their other attractions.
We purchased our tickets through Floridatix during Black Friday and so were lucky to bag ourselves a pretty good deal.
If you go directly through Discovery Cove however, prices range from $179 to $215 per person.
Our tickets cost us £152.50 each and included 14-day access to Sea World, Busch Gardens and Aquatica.
These tickets also included the parking, which will save you a fortune.
Finally, the tickets also included our 1-day visit to Discovery Cove with the dolphin swim included.
We definitely got our monies worth, and would be more than happy to pay that again next time we head over the pond to America.
We visited all the Sea World owned parks during our time in Florida – even going back to Busch Gardens for a second time (look out for a blog post on that in the coming weeks).
If you so desire, you can add on upgrades to your Discovery Cove experience.
These upgrades include the premium drinks package, ray feeding, shark swim, or animal trek to name a few.
Even without any additional experiences, there’s still plenty to do and you’ll easily fill your day at Discover Cove.
What is included in the price at Discovery Cove?
Whether you’ve purchased a basic package, or one with the dolphin experience included, you’ll still get the same access to the rest of the park’s facilities.
The price gives you access to:
- Wind-Away River
- Freshwater Oasis
- Grand Reef
- Serenity Bay
- Explorer’s Aviary
- Snorkels and wetsuits included.
You also get access to free parking, lockers, towels, sun loungers and animal-friendly sun cream which you can find dotted around the park.
Although you can drive, we grabbed a Lyft to and from Discovery Cove so we could both make the most of the all-inclusive drinks (of course)!
You’ve got to get your monies worth after all.
Snacks and Beers
In terms of food and drink, as we mentioned earlier you get your breakfast and lunch included in the cost.
If you get peckish in-between meals, there are also pretzels and crisps available throughout the resort.
You can just simply grab as and when you wish.
As well as this, you can also help yourself to soft drinks as much as you want throughout your day.
If you’re over 21, you have access to a selection of beers and wines within the standard entrance fee.
The team will check your ID on arrival so you don’t need to carry this on you for the rest of the day.
Drinks Package Upgrade
If you want to expand your alcohol drink choices – we didn’t bother with this – you can buy Discovery Cove’s Premium Drinks package.
For an additional $40 per person, this gives you a wider choice of drinks including cocktails, spirits and a wider choice of beer and wine.
If you’re not fussy, then we’d say that sticking with the standard included drinks is just fine!
We didn’t have any issues grabbing sun loungers during our day, however there are also Cabana and Day Bed upgrades available – which may be ideal if you’re visiting with a larger group or family.
We honestly couldn’t recommend Discovery Cover more to anyone visiting Florida.
It got our first 10/10 rating on this blog after all!
We’ll definitely be back there as soon as possible and will be telling everyone we know to add it to their Florida itinerary.
It provided a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks, and gave us wildlife experiences we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to do otherwise!