Snorkelling The Reef - Dominican Republic

We all get that urge to submerge every now and again, to swim down with the fishes and see another world below the surface. If you're me, it's a constant feeling and have been likened to a human fish far too many times - I just love being in the ocean! So, when I heard about Marinarium I couldn't help but head on over and see what's going on with the help of Olympus Tours Again

The Dominican Republic is found on the second largest island in the Caribbean, and it's coastline is split between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With such rich marine life on the doorstep, founders John and Alexandra Vasquez decided to try a new way to entice tourists to take an interest in the conservation effort here. They've created a multi-aspect trip that involves snorkelling, paddling and partying - something for everyone bringing the ocean closer to all. 

The 3 hour trip starts with boarding onto the glass bottomed catamaran to take us to the first part, and my favourite of the day! Mooring the boat far enough from the 'in ocean' aquarium, we were partnered up with or in water guides. These guys seemed to split up to around 2-4 people / guide and would stick with you then whole time you're in the water to make sure you're safe and also respecting the wildlife. Kitted up with snorkels & masks (and life jackets for less confident swimmers), we all started to climb down to the sea and swim across to the enclosures. Once at the first entrance, the guides lowered the gate for us to climb over ready to spend some time with the main attraction - nurse sharks!

The enclosure, floating in the ocean, is the perfect place for these animals to be researched and conserved. Large & deep enough for free swimming, we were able to float above and watch them without invading their space. I love being able to get up close with wildlife, so this was a serious treat for me! 

From here, it was onwards to the sting rays. Once again, a large enclosure for these guys to enjoy while we floated above and were able to share their space! Along with the larger creatures, the aquariums are in the ocean so you have to expect a few more surprises, With space big enough for small fish to swim in and out of, you do get to see some of the colourful reef life come and go during the first snorkel.

Back to the boat, after a little persuasion from our guide as I could have been in there for hours, we headed up to the top deck for some tanning and to enjoy the included bar! The journey to our next stop took about 45 minutes which was filled with dance lessons, drinking and relaxing - not a bad way to spend your time in the sunshine (especially when you check out the guys teaching the dance lessons ;D). 

To give us another chance to enjoy the water, we hopped back in further down the coast in a lagoon with an open bar at the back of the boat. Here, with the water so shallow, you can float, stand, swim around or just drink a little too much but essentially spend the time enjoying the ocean. 

I guess this trip is what I imagine a safari in the ocean would be like, being able to see everything, from some of the larger predators to the tiniest starfish. Anytime that I can meet some new wildlife is a plus from me!