Are you ready to laugh? To learn something new? To feed a penguin? No, really.
When we say there’s something for everyone in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, we mean it. And the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park takes the “adventure” part of its name seriously.
Along with gorgeous tank exhibits and fun dolphin shows comes the Gulfarium’s mission to provide animal conservation, rescue, and education efforts. The extensive sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation program (CARE) has rehabilitated and released Kemp’s ridley, green, loggerhead, and leatherback sea turtles.
But not everyone can be involved with a sea turtle rescue. So how does the Gulfarium engage visitors in a way that is fun and educational while also championing animal conservation efforts? They do so by offering hands-on animal encounters that are kid-friendly and unforgettable.
Here are our top picks for ways to make your visit extra special:
1. Stingray Snorkel
Yes, stingrays are native to the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s rare to encounter a large group of them out in the wild. The Stingray Bay Snorkel encounter is your chance to safely swim and snorkel, surrounded by these gentle, graceful creatures.
2. Discover Penguins
The Gulfarium is home to African penguins! A chick was hatched in December 2019, and the Gulfarium was thrilled to help contribute to the survival of this endangered species by inviting guests to Discover Penguins. Visitors ages eight and older can touch and feed these adorable little guys. That’s definitely not something you get to do every day!
3. VIP Trainer
Do you have a budding zoologist at home? Kids ages 13 and older have the chance to learn from experienced Gulfarium staff during this five-hour experience. VIPs will snorkel with stingrays and sharks and work with a variety of animals throughout the day, depending on what is needed. This includes otters, dolphins, tropical birds, sea lions and more. This is a limited opportunity program that is open to one VIP per day, so be sure to sign up in advance.
4. Discover Dolphins
The Discover Dolphins dockside encounter is popular for a reason. You’ll be astounded at the speed and strength of these Atlantic bottlenose dolphins as they swim right in front of you, interact and (probably) splash you for a laugh.
5. Discover Sea Lions
What is it about sea lions that makes them so funny? Is it the face full of whiskers or the shuffling way they move about on land? Either way, with Discover Sea Lions is an encounter where you’ll get to feed, touch and interact with sea lions. You might even get them to do a trick!
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park welcomes children and adults with special needs to participate in exhibits and special animal encounters. Fill out the special needs form when placing your reservation so staff is able to provide appropriate assistance during the experience.
Learn more about Gulfarium Wildlife Encounters, and book today to take your visit to the next level.