Yup, the title indeed is just that. Sailing with dolphins.
The business case there is quite straight forward. You take a boat, a catamaran in this case, stick quite a few tourists on it, and go sailing in the Bay of Islands while searching for dolphins.
The kicker here is that you’re allowed to go for a swim WITH the dolphins next to you. If the dolphins are not unfriendly towards you and do not have babies, you can go in the water with them. And try to keep up.
As the animals are wild, they are curious about you in the water, but they’re not inclined to let you set the pace. The dolphins move and swim on their own terms and more specifically their own speed. Which is quite fast!
The tour ends with the obligatory snorkeling, barbeque and sailing back towards Paihia, but the tourists are completely nackered by then because of the full day on the water.
Oh yes, we are living the hard life over here!
Moving further down south along the coast from Los Angeles, one may find a huge urban area driving on the 101 southbound. That is, until one reaches another San, which is San Diego.
This town with 1.3 million inhabitants is also the home of Sea World San Diego, which is the original Sea World.
Here they feature shows with dolphins, sea otters, humans, California sea lions, and most importantly, killer whales!
It is for these guys that we went there, and like a whole lot other people we went to see Shamu(R). Yes, that name is indeed a trademark! The show features three or four of these killer whales, and after an tragic event at Sea World Orlando the shows are kept ‘dry’ which means the trainers will not go into the water with the animals during the show.
Nevertheless, it was great, and really American.
The show starts with a tribute to all active and veteran servicemen and -women of both the US Army and their allies. The audience gives a resounding ovation and the show is off! It features jumping, twisting, sliding and especially a whole lot of splashing whales.
Oh yes, the Americans sure do like their splashing whales! The first 16 (!) rows are the so called ‘Soak Zone’ and viewers with cameras are strongly advised to go sit somewhere else if they want to keep their equipment in a working state until after the show. Let’s say the tail of a killer whale can cause quite some drenched people! And they all love it. Called the Shamu(R) Slam, the soaking lasts for a solid 10 minutes where all visitors are being blasted in various ways while doing a special move to encourage the animals to get as much water out of the basin and into the seating area.
As a certain big Galician would put it: strange folks, those Americans.
Returning to the drop off point for our car, we started ti realize that there is only the final leg of our vacation left; the ling trip back home. Tomorrow, we have to up around 4 am to catch the first plane to Washington, and then on to Amsterdam, where my brother will pick us up…
So long America! You have been a true blast!