A visit to Clearwater Beach, of course, centers around water: Turn one way and admire the vast sparkling roll of the Gulf of Mexico, turn the other and gaze across Clearwater Bay toward the Gulf Coast mainland.
At Hotel Cabana, you’ve got world-class beachfront at your beck and call—plus plentiful options for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, jet-skiing, snorkeling, and other watersports. But maybe you’d like a little bit of education mixed into your saltwater appreciation, in which case you’re beautifully situated at our boutique, Key West-flavored hotel: We’re a short jaunt from Clearwater Marine Aquarium!
Opened in 1972, the aquarium is equally focused on the care and display of its captive sealife and the rescue, rehabilitation, and (if possible) release of wild marine creatures along a large swath of Florida’s west coast.
The Animal Lineup at Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Winter & More
The facility’s best-known residents are its bottlenose dolphins, native to our local waters. And the most famous member of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium pod is Winter, rescued in December 2005 near Cape Canaveral. Her tail had become snarled in a crab-trap line, and because of the resultant loss of circulation couldn’t be saved. Remarkably, however, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium veterinary staff and Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. managed to replace her flukes with prosthetics, and Winter’s thriving.
Winter and her fellow brainy cetaceans may be the all-out celebrities, but there are other remarkable animals to admire at the aquarium. Rescued sea turtles of multiple species call the place home; so do a pair each of playful river otters and hefty nurse sharks, a gaggle of southern and cownose stingrays, a massive great white pelican, and other striking critters.
From glimpses into the noble veterinary work going down in the Surgical Suite and interactive learning at the Education Station to a variety of animal meet-and-greets, behind-the-scenes experiences, and boat tours, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers a whole host of activities for visitors young and old.
Winter’s Wonderland at Clearwater Marine Aquarium
And just around the corner is the institution’s annual holiday celebration, Winter’s Wonderland, which runs from November 24 through December 3. Watch Santa dives in Mavis’s Rescue Hideaway, nab a picture with “Winter Claus,” and come aboard for Sea of Lights cruises in Clearwater Bay to view holiday lights; those boatrides run 4 to 9 PM on December 15, 16, 22, and 23.
Whether for the upcoming holiday festivities or an everyday encounter with superstar Winter, consider a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium when you stay with us here at Hotel Cabana. There’s plenty of fun and wonderment to be had here—and some great insight into local conservation along our glittering seashore.