Vallarta Palace–Dolphins and Karaoke!

Jennifer Stern November 3, 2010 1 Comment

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Our week at the Puerto Vallarta Palace had been a relaxing, indulgent, stress-free and wonderful time thus far. We had had a great amount of beach time, pool time, play time, entertainment–and food. Especially food. So much food, in fact, that I had switched from wearing bikinis to one-piece bathing suits, and nearly every piece of clothing I had brought along felt uncomfortably tight on me. 

Puerto Vallarta Palace Family Vacation

Good times with Family at the Vallarta Palace

Clearly, a little bit of activity was in order, since the only lifting I was doing was raising a fork to my mouth! Luckily, today was the day the family and I had been looking forward to all week–our swim with the dolphins at the Wet N’ Wild Waterpark, in the nearby town of Nuevo Vallarta. (I should note here that your children must be at least eight years old in order to take part in this activity. Luckily, Will just made the cutoff.) 

We stepped out of the resort’s front doors and into a waiting van which drove us the 20 minutes or so to our destination. We were whisked inside the park and from there had to check in and rent towels. We then had to spend quite a bit of time waiting in a covered shelter (with a sign reading “Dolphin Swim here”) area with a fairly large group of other people. It was probably 45 minutes or longer, and that, combined with the oppressive heat and humidity, made us all a little irritable and impatient. So we were relieved when at last a smiling water park staff member appeared and asked that we please follow her. 

We were led through a gate and into another covered shelter area with rows of chairs, a large video screen, and several racks full of life vests of all sizes, and were asked to please take seats. A couple of other trainers appeared, and began the process of instructing us on what we were about to experience, in both Spanish and English. We were shown a short video, and then asked to line up to get into our life vests. (I must note that at this point, after we donned our uncomfortably close-fitting and damp vests, we were DYING to get into the water for some relief from the humidity!) 

At long, LONG last, we were allowed into the pool area, where the crowd of people were broken up into smaller groups (since our family numbered 6, we were already our own group). The bottlenose dolphins we would be swimming with in a matter of minutes were released from their enclosure and were swimming laps in the pool, occasionally jumping out of the water, much to our delight. We were already excited! What beautiful creatures they were!Puerto Vallarta Waterpark Dolphin 

The trainers, armed with whistles and buckets of fish, finally allowed us to get into the water, where we stood on a ledge that ran along the side of the pool. Once again, in English and Spanish, the trainers reviewed the activities we’d be performing with the dolphins, as well as the hand signals we would give for the dolphins to know what we wanted them to do. 

When we cupped our hands in front of us and held them just above the surface of the water, our dolphin swam up in front of us and placed his head in our hands! He allowed us to kiss him on the nose and then we turned our head to the side and received a dolphin “kiss” in return. We also got to “high-five” our dolphin on the fin, and “dance” with him, as he rose out of the water and shimmied back and forth while we held onto his fins. 

But it got even better than that–we all also got to take a “belly ride” with the dolphin. At the trainer’s cue, we gave a hand signal, and the dolphin swam around us and then turned over onto his back. We grabbed on to each of his fins, and the dolphin gave us a very fast ride all the way across the pool, using his powerful tail as a rudder. And after that, we got what the trainer called a “nose push” ride, which was even more exciting. We’d hold our legs out as straight as possible, and the dolphin would swim up behind us, press his nose into one of our feet, and launch us not only straight across the pool but up into the air! My youngest son went higher up than anyone! What a thrill! Puerto Vallarta Waterpark Dolphin 

The only disappointment is that we were not permitted to take our own photos with the dolphins (which would have been a bit difficult anyway seeing as how we were in the water); the park has photographers taking pictures of you and the dolphins and then tries to sell them to you at outrageously expensive prices ($25 for a single picture, or eight photos for $100). So, we left the dolphin swim with nothing except the memories in our heads, since I wasn’t willing to pay the price. 

Still, we were amazed at the speed, power and intelligence these incredible animals possessed, and we all left with a newfound respect and admiration for these remarkable creatures. 

It was over too soon, but since we were, after all, in a waterpark, we decided to take advantage of it for the rest of the day. We grabbed some lunch (pizza, chicken nuggets, fries–the typical kid fare) at one of the snack stands, and afterwards everyone (except for my mom) grabbed innertubes and took on the park’s many water slides, which ranged from fairly tame to downright daredevilish! The boys were particularly fond of one slide they dubbed the “toilet bowl”–a slide dumps you into a huge round basin, and essentially you spin around and around and AROUND until finally you and your innertube are spit out of a chute at the bottom, and free-fall into another pool. I wouldn’t recommend this one for kids younger than about 10, and it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Wet N' Wild Waterpark, Nuevo Vallarta

Having fun at Wet N' Wild Waterpark, Nuevo Vallarta

 

Unfortunately, since it was a weekday, the waterpark closed at 5:30 p.m., so we reluctantly packed up and were quickly ushered into another waiting cab by the oh-so-efficient concierge at the gate. It was a short trip back to the hotel, and once again we stepped through the grand doors of the resort into the cool marble lobby. 

My father (who has a habit of befriending just about all of the staff members at whatever hotel he’s staying in) was chatting with one of the men who emcees the resort’s entertainment, and to our delight we found out that there was going to be a karaoke night in the bar and lounge area! That was all the boys needed to hear–they definitely wanted to sign up. 

So, after dinner (we decided to try out room service that night for a change), we made our way downstairs and entered the lounge, to the strains of Mexican mariachi music. Once we sat down and had a look around, I was able to quickly ascertain that we were just about the only white family in the place. My parents and I ordered coffees and sat, smiling politely, as one person after the next (some kids as young as perhaps five years old) took their turn at the microphone, singing songs with Spanish lyrics that we’d never heard of before. Massive applause followed each performance. 

Meanwhile, Tristan and Ben, who had put their names on the list to sing, were eagerly paging through a catalogue of song titles the emcee had handed them as they waited their turn. Finally, after a bit of back-and-forth, they made their selection and closed the book with satisfied smiles. 

When the emcee called them to the stage, I could sort of feel all eyes on my two clearly-not-Mexican sons as they approached the mic. The music started up, and boy, was the audience surprised as Tris and Ben began belting out lyrics to Metallica’s heavy-metal hit “Enter Sandman!” Let’s just say it was like nothing else they’d seen that night. 

When the song ended, there was a bit of a stunned silence at first, and then a smattering of polite applause. Clearly, this wasn’t the proper demographic for a rock concert…en Ingles, no less! But it was pretty amusing. 

We finished our coffees and quietly slipped out as the Latin music started up again. The kids wanted to hit the gift shop (of course), also located off the enormous lobby, so we amused ourselves for a while, trying on various hats, and bought a few small trinkets. 

Then it was time to hit the hay, since the following day would be our last in Puerto Vallarta.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Jennifer Stern is a mom of three teen boys, who provide her with constant inspiration to write. She is also a fitness professional/junkie who teaches everything from Spinning to Zumba. A New Jersey native, this is her second time living in Southern California. She loves the L.A. lifestyle, but does miss eating decent pizza and bagels--so she consoles herself with excellent Mexican food. She and her family live in Burbank.

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One Comments to “Vallarta Palace–Dolphins and Karaoke!”
  1. avatar The Puerto Vallarta Palace - Concluding our Vacation with a Bang! says:

    [...] with my three boys and my parents at the Vallarta Palace in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After the dolphins and waterpark adventure of the previous day, we elected to lie relatively low for our last day of complete and total [...]