Dolphinaris Arizona is THE place for families this summer

In City Gems, Travel by Nicole Yontz

Spring and summer breaks are right around the corner. Whether you’re local to the Phoenix area, or just coming to visit, don’t miss this brand new attraction. At the beginning of March, we were invited to check out the all-new Dolphinaris Arizona. Dolphins in Arizona? Yes, ma’am, and my 7-year-old considers it a life changing experience. Find out why Dolphinaris Arizona is the place for families this summer.

The facility

Dolphinaris Arizona is a federally licensed facility (like all zoos and aquariums) smack dab in the middle of the desert. But if you’re concerned for their well-being in such a difficult climate, don’t be. Dolphinaris Arizona is first and foremost about the care and treatment of the 8 dolphins in their care. Personally, I was so impressed with the facility, from the temperature controlled pools to this amazing retractable glass wall that goes around the entire inner pool to protect the dolphins from dust storms or rough Arizona weather. I could tell so much attention went into the planning of the facility.



Before going near the water, the Dolphinaris Arizona team sits everyone down for a quick Q&A and ocean conservation education. Dolphinaris strives for a great experience in the water, but I was so happy to see they were also educating people on how to make the world’s oceans cleaner for these amazing animals. Did you know the #1 pollutant in the ocean is pesticides? I didn’t until they told me. After making all these new friends, I have personally made it a point to buy more organic. My already eco-conscience daughter now mentions the dolphins every time she recycles. She always reminds us — and anyone in ear shot — to do the same.

The experience

Dolphins are some of the smartest animals in the world. Because of that, the Dolphinaris Arizona staff treats them with immense love and respect, which I got to witness first hand. This facility houses 8 dolphins — 4 boys and 4 girls from 2 facilities in Hawaii and California. However, at any given time only 3 are interacting with the people. The other 5 play and hang out. The facility uses only positive reinforcement during training. So if they don’t want to do anything, they don’t have to, which we saw first hand.

At one point during our session, I happened to look across the pool to the back pool where the “off duty” dolphins were playing basketball! I wasn’t the only one who saw this. It didn’t take long for Chloe (our dolphin friend) to take notice and join them. We all hung out and waited for her to decide to come back, which she did 5 minutes later. This highlighted that the dolphins are free to do as they want, which makes for healthy dolphins and happy interactions.


The actual time you spend interacting with the dolphins will depend on the experience you purchase. However, I found them all to be worth the price of admission. Whether it be from dry land or a full-on in the deep end of the pool interaction — or even be a trainer for a day — you’ll find an experience to suit your sense of adventure and your comfort level. You can make online reservations (discounts for online reservations!) or feel free to just walk in. Keep in mind the last experience of the day happens at 2:45.

You can even make an entire day of your time at Dolphinaris Arizona. Depending on the package you buy, you will have access to the “human pool” — a beautiful people-only pool situated right next to the dolphin pool. Lounge, have a snack or get cocktails from the adjacent bar! The staff told me the dolphins like to come visit the glass partition between the human and dolphin pools. Dolphins sometimes play ball with the swimmers!

Upcoming events

We enjoyed visiting Dolphinaris Arizona so much my 7-year-old has talked about going back non-stop. Thankfully, this summer Dolphinaris Arizona launches the Dolphin Explorer Summer Day Camp. At camp, kids will get to interact with the dolphins and learn about ocean conservation on a deeper level. At Dolphin Explorer Camp your child will spend the day with a dolphin trainer where they will interact with the dolphins in the water and from land while learning about dolphin intelligence, behavior, how to care for the dolphins, ocean conservation and more! Camp sessions are Monday through Friday starting June 5th through August 25th, for grades 5th through 12th. For more details and reservations for what has to be the world’s best day camp, contact Dolphinaris Arizona.


Meet the Author | Nicole Yontz

A SoCal girl transplanted to the Arizona desert, Nicole Yontz is the go-to girl for all things gear. She shares her home with her handsome husband, their two daughters (Audrey & Abbey), two dogs, one fish, and countless dust bunnies. When she’s not busy testing out the latest and greatest in gear on her darling little guinea pigs, you will often find her getting a pedicure as she does every single week. Because there’s no law that says you can’t.

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