If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be Sandy Cheeks from SpongeBob SquarePants, then SeaVenture is the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with creatures of the sea. While sporting a dive helmet, you’ll spend the underwater walking tour surrounded by schools of fish, rays and coral reefs. You even get a chance to hold sea life in your hands! SeaVenture is an add-on experience that is not included with the all-inclusive resort admission at Discovery Cove.
My parents and I recently took the deep dive down to the bottom of Discovery Cove’s Grand Reef to meet our friends with fins. It was one of the coolest aquatic experiences I’ve had yet, and that’s saying a lot, as a thrill-seeking frog. I imagine you have many questions, including the big one: “How do you breathe underwater?!” Lucky for you, I have the answers! Read on to learn all about this unique underwater adventure.
Discovery Cove SeaVenture Experience Q&A
I know I sure had sooo many questions before our SeaVenture tour, so I’m hoppy to help you as you prepare for your own. If you don’t see your question, hop to our comments section and ask away!
Well, what exactly hoppens while you're underwater?
The walking tour starts once everyone is underwater, and the tour guide welcomes you to the bottom of the Grand Reef. As you're walking, there is a rail to hold onto throughout the tour, if you need to steady yourself. The water makes you a little buoyant, but the helmet's weight helps keep you down. Fish swim all around you, and they can get super close. As I was walking, a stingray even bumped into my shoulder from behind.
The first stop are the sharks! Don't worry — they stay behind a glass wall, but you will stop in front of them as the tour guide shares fun facts via white flashcards. Once you move on and around the corner, the tour guide and additional Discovery Cove SeaVenture divers will bring out sea creatures that you can hold. For the grand finale, the divers feed the fish, which creates a swarm of swirling fish while you stand in the middle of it!
How long does the experience take?
From arriving at our scheduled time to getting out of the water, the entire experience took us about 50 minutes. We spent a few minutes checking in and signing waivers, which was followed by the orientation session. One by one, each person in our group was fitted with their helmet as they lowered themselves down the ladder and into the water. The underwater tour itself took about 25 minutes. Be sure to block out enough time for this experience if you’re scheduling multiple experiences. We’d suggest arriving about 10 minutes before your scheduled time.
How much does it cost?
Prices start at $59 per person, and each tour is limited to nine people. If you have a large group of 10 or more, you’ll need to split up into different tours.
Do you need any diving experience?
No! Anyone over 10 years old is welcome to participate, and no diving experience or certification is needed. Children ages 10 to 13 must be accompanied by a supervising companion who is 14 years old or older and must take part in the experience. All guests under 18 years old must have an adult present to view the safety video.
How deep is the water?
You’ll be walking at the bottom of the reef, which is about 15 to 20 feet deep.
What is it like wearing the dive helmet?
At orientation, you’re given a special harness that wraps around your chest, which attaches to the helmet. You also learn how to equalize the pressure in your ears, so you can adapt to the rapid pressure change. The helmet itself weighs about 70 pounds, but of course, when you’re underwater, it won’t feel too heavy. You do not bear the full weight of it at all, since they lower the helmet onto your head as you're stepping down the ladder. (About halfway through the tour, I started to feel the weight of it on my shoulders, so it got a little uncomfortable then, but it wasn’t painful at all.)
The tour guide will give full instructions during the orientation, but it’s important to keep your head level, while looking straight ahead. If you look down or up or move your head too quickly, water could creep into your helmet since the neck opening is not completely sealed off. Basically, you can stick your hand up the helmet and pinch your nose while blowing gently through your mouth, which is one of the equalization techniques you learn. While you’re underwater, keep your head movements as slow and steady as possible. It’s also hard to turn your head from side to side, so it’s just easier if you turn your entire body when you want to look at something.
What happens if I run into a problem while I’m underwater?
During the orientation, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to navigate underwater, including hand signals to communicate to the trainers leading the tour. Your guide may also use a whiteboard and pen to communicate. In case a problem arises, you can use a specific hand signal to let the tour guide know you need to go back up to the surface. Pay close attention to any hand signals that the tour guide gives to the group because all you can hear is the sound of air in your helmet.
What medical and health information do I need to take into consideration?
Participation in SeaVenture may be inadvisable if you have certain physical and/or mental health conditions. Examples include but are not limited to back or neck issues, seizures, respiratory problems (including asthma), pregnancy and/or a history of health issues. Also, consider any anxiety disorders or phobias, particularly claustrophobia or fears of fish or sharks. Sharks will stay behind a glass wall, but you will stop in front of them.
Additionally, you should not consume alcoholic beverages for at least 12 hours prior to the experience, or fly within four hours of participating.
What should (or shouldn’t) I wear?
For the SeaVenture experience, you’ll need to wear the provided wetsuit (not the life vest). The wetsuit provides extra warmth, which you’ll want since the water is cooler in the Grand Reef. However, it’s not terribly cold, which was something that Mommy Frog was concerned about. She ended up thinking the water temperature was toadally fine.
Leave your personal belongings, including any jewelry, in your locker. However, wedding bands and watches do not have to be removed. Eyeglasses are also permitted, but sunglasses are not (transition lenses are acceptable). Someone in our group wasn’t allowed to wear her prescription goggles, but it would’ve covered her nose, thus making breathing in the helmet nearly impossible.
Can we bring personal cameras?
Yes! I was able to use my own GoPro to capture our entire underwater adventure. Check out my YouTube video below!
We’d highly recommend bringing your own camera, but Discovery Cove also provides underwater cameras to borrow if you don’t have one. Keep in mind that these cameras can only take photos, and video recording would not be an option. You would also need to purchase the photos, and the price is separate from the Dolphin Swim photo package.
Do you have any more questions about the Discovery Cove SeaVenture experience that we didn't cover? Feel free to shoot 'em over in the comments below!