Israel Travel: Swimming with Dolphins in Eilat, Israel
If you plan on visiting Eilat, Israel do not leave without a visit to the Dolphin Reef. The Dolphin Reef is not only a private beach but it is home to the dolphins of Eilat. Up until a few years ago the Dolphin Reef had an enclosed area of the sea where the dolphins lived. The dolphins were separated from the open sea by a thick net and metal "wall". The dolphins were not made to perform for the visitors but were feed at set times and encouraged to play around a little in the water for the eager dolphin watches.
These days the dolphin enclosure is kept open and the dolphins are free to come and go as they please moving from the open Red Sea to the Dolphin Reef enclosure as they want. This means they are in their natural habitat and the reef is ecologically friendly. This kind of dolphin retreat is unique to Eilat and you won't find one like it any where in the world. The bottlenose dolphins are still fed at set times and if they are hungry they arrive, play if they are in the mood and then swim off into the deep blue sea.
The Dolphin Reef has a private beach and an enclosed swimming area of the sea, this swimming area borders the dolphin enclosure and is separated just by a net wall. That means that while you swim you can see the dolphins frolicking on the other side of the net but you can't touch them, unless a dolphin decides to come to the edge and greet you.
There are other facilities within the Dolphin Reef. There is a restaurant, kids craft area and a small screening room which shows films about the dolphins and how they arrived in Eilat, most of them from the Black Sea in Russia. There is also a small curio store, but the best reason to visit Eilat's Dolphin Reef is to swim with the dolphins.
There are professional divers who take tourists, even if they have no diving experience, into the dolphin enclosure and let them swim with the dolphins. Now this is no dolphinarium and there are no guarantees about how close you will get to the dolphins but you will see the dolphins up close. You are not allowed to reach out and touch them underwater, but sometimes the dolphins will touch you.
The Dolphin Reef in Eilat, Israel has all the equipment for diving including wet suits in all sizes. If you are not up to diving you can try snorkeling with the dolphins instead. There is a camera man with an underwater camera on hand to take stills and videos of your dolphin encounter.
I have to admit that one of my reasons for visiting the Dolphin Reef every time we are in Eilat is that you can sit on the chairs on the sand under a tree and the waiters will bring your food and drinks to you. I recommend ice-café, chips and hummus! Another big plus point is that the swimming area is enclosed so that you know your kids can't go too far out to sea.
For an Israeli family the price is a bit steep at 64 shekels for an adult and 44 for a child but in Dollars ($17 adult, $11 child) the price sounds more reasonable! Once you are inside you can stay as long as you want. The price does not include swimming or diving with the dolphins which is extra.
The dolphin feeding times are on display and when it is time for them to eat you can go out on to the floating wooden piers and dangle your toes in the crystal clear water while the dolphins swim beneath you.