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The Sea Lion Experience at Atlantis is Life Changing (so go do it)

Written by Bryce

There’s a sea lion experience you need to get in on at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Sure, you’re thinking a trip to the Bahamas is mostly about sun, sand, and turquoise water, but some resorts, like Atlantis in Nassau, are taking family vacations to the next level by offering ultra-memorable supplemental activities — like their sea lion experience. If you’re wondering what the heck a sea lion experience is anyway, it’s quite literally the opportunity to see, touch, feel, and experience some particularly social and charismatic sea lions in an up close and personal way.

The sea lion experience is a pretty touchy-feely one

I recently headed to Atlantis with my husband and two of my children (which, by the way, is a dream for families with kids — more on that later, though), knowing we’d definitely mosey on over to Dolphin Cay, the designated area for Atlantis’ sea life rescue and care program. I knew we would swim with their smiling dolphins, give them hugs and affectionate massages (we did that, we legitimately massaged dolphins and I swear to you we are better for it), but I didn’t expect to end up in a sea lion enclosure, high fiving a real and very giant geriatric sea lion, who strangely smiled at me when we embraced.

My 3 year old loved Dolphin Cay

The sea lion experience isn’t just a good photo opportunity though, because it’s a way for little kids and adults alike to interact with a creature they might never see outside of a zoo, and most zoos don’t let guests get up close and personal with their animals. (Although honestly, if you don’t use your sea lion selfie as your new LinkedIn profile pic, ugh.). Atlantis does, and the most exciting part of their program is that the animals they care for are mostly rescues, and always well cared for. I ventured over to the sea lion experience with a group of about a dozen others ranging from infancy to the far reaches of adulthood, and everyone enjoyed the rare chance to have a big, cuddly sea lion named Sebastian basically plop himself into our collective laps.

Gentle petting and friendly gestures are encouraged at the sea lion experience

“Bassie,” as we nicknamed him, was an elderly sea lion gent who was waiting on an upcoming cataract surgery, but he was still eager to please our small crowd. He ate fresh fish directly from our hands, laid his head back with his mouth wide open so children could ogle at his obviously perfect dental hygiene routine, smiled on command (not kidding, he was more willing to smile than most of us were pre-coffee at eight in the morning), and even high fived several adults. Imagine being so friendly you’d feel inclined to high five for a fish? That’s Bassie, the happiest guy in the Bahamas.

READ MORE: Farm Sanctuary lets guests cuddle real farm animals

Bassie isn’t the only cuddle muffin at the sea lion experience, though, because one of my friends remarked she had a previous special connection with a blonde sea lion a few years prior. We wondered if Cassie, the blonde lady lion in question, was the love interest of Bassie.

The entire sea lion experience is open to all ages, although kids under 10 must be accompanied by a paid parent or guardian. The interaction lasts about thirty minutes, which if you think about it deeply enough, is a lot of time with a sea lion. Wetsuits, personal lockers, and beach towels are provided, as well as an all-day access pass to Dolphin Cay’s private beach (you want that, trust me).

Bassie shook my hand like a top-notch politician. He has my vote.

It’s an ideal morning activity for an extended family, too, because it’s one of the few activities on Earth that can genuinely be enjoyed by humans of all ages, and at $179 for up to 12 people, it’s a worthwhile memory-maker. If you’re booking your Atlantis trip from the the USA, check out this page to see if there are any special discounts, deals, or offers, or this page if you’re outside the USA.

Feel free to upload your family’s sea lion interaction photos in the comments section below, too.

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About the author


Bryce Gruber is a Manhattanite mom who can be found jet-setting off to every corner of the globe. She loves exotic places, planes with WiFi, summer clothes, & Sucre brown butter truffles. Bryce's aim is to do to luxury what Elton John did to being gay. Follow her on twitter @brycegruber

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