On the island of the Dominican Republic, there is a theme park – but not quite akin to what you may have been expecting. Manati Theme Park is quite unlike any other park of its genre, focusing on animals and nature rather than white knuckle thrills, and is designed to stimulate and enthral all ages. In its advertising literature, the park promises a unique experience – and one that no visitor is likely to ever forget.
The park is set almost as a tropical garden, spread over several acres and encompassing natural flora and fauna of the Dominican Republic. As well as the natural plant life and orchids that surround the park walks and locations, there is also a variety of activities and fun to be had with the animals and wildlife who have made the park their home.
One of the ultimate highlights of Manati Theme Park is the chance to swim with dolphins; a pursuit that usually tops lists of activities that everyone should do before they die. Sessions are generally an hour long, and though prebooking is required, it can be done from most hotels upon your arrival in the Dominican Republic. The session is spent with some of the parks trained and friendly dolphins, allowing for photograph opportunities and memories that will never fade. The cost of swimming with dolphins is additional to the standard park rate, and costs $95 USD. Occasionally, deals can be obtained for hotels which lower this price, so do inquire upon arrival as to whether your hotel is currently running a promotion.
When one has swam with the dolphins, you can be entertained by the other animal residents of Manati Theme Park. Spread throughout the day are a variety of animal shows, featuring some of the wildlife performing tricks and stunning feats of intelligence. These animals and birds, which star in species specific shows, include horses, parrots and sea lions. The dolphins also perform their own show in the water area; this time, designed to be viewed and admired rather than enjoyed from within.
If you prefer a little more culture and history on a day out, Manati Park is also more than capable of delivering. Among the flora of the park, there is a tribute to the foremost population of the Dominican Republic; the Tainos. One can watch and enjoy a traditional Taino dance, as well as absorbing exhibitions and demonstrations of formal costumes, artwork, statues and artisan crafts. A stop at the Taino village is a calm break from the animal based thrills and spills of the rest of Manati.
The park itself is located toward the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic, with shuttle buses running direct to its location from most hotels. Park entrance is $15 USD for children, and $30 for anyone over the age of 12 – though, once again, certain hotels may offer seasonal promotions so it is always worth asking. Many hotels offer the shuttle buses, particularly those along the eastern coast itself. Arranging a trip to the Manati Theme Park, in its place as the pride of the Dominican Republic, is simple and carefree – while your stay there may just be the highlight of your entire holiday.