Up north, Monkey Mia and Shark Bay have become synonymous with getting up close and personal to the wonderfully inquisitive dolphins of our Indian Ocean.
But did you know there’s place where you can get just as friendly with our blowhole-bearing buddies that’s less than two hours from the Perth CBD? Here’s what you need to know about Koombana Bay in Bunbury:
What is it?
Koombana Bay is a stretch of beach just a couple of clicks away from Bunbury in our state’s southwest, and is one of only a handful of places around the world where you can encounter dolphins in the wild. A pod of over a hundred wild bottlenose dolphins frequents the bay on a daily basis, and thanks to the Dolphin Discovery Centre now located there, you can have the opportunity to meet and greet them out on the water, or in the shallows of the bay.
Where is it?
A straight drive down Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway gets you to Bunbury in just under two hours, and you’ll actually pass Koombana Bay on the way in (it’s 2km east of the Bunbury CBD). Koombana Beach, the recently re-developed Koombana Bay Foreshore and Dolphin Discovery Centre are all along Anchorage Cove, just off Koombana Bay Drive.
What to do:
Experience the magic of dolphins in their natural habitat! The two main ways of doing so both operate out of the Dolphin Discovery Centre – there’s a designated interaction zone on the shoreline that operates at regular intervals during each day (particularly during warmer months), or you can book swim tours that run out into the bay daily between November and April.
They also offer eco cruises without swimming to educate you on the marine life around Koombana Bay, which runs year-round – just make sure to book ahead.
The Dolphin Discovery Centre itself has had a serious upgrade in recent years, with a fantastic interactive education zone inside the building that you can walk through. Filled with huge aquariums that dive into different areas of the WA coast, there’s loggerhead turtles, big crays and an excellent kids zone filled with activities to keep the young ones engaged.
The centre has a nice cafe as well, but it’s their new upstairs bar that is the real winner – pull up to watch the sun set over Koombana Bay, and you might even get lucky and watch a pod of dolphins swim by while you sip on an icey cool beverage.
As mentioned above, in the past couple of years the Koombana Bay foreshore has also received a serious upgrade, with an awesome, expansive and interactive playground for the kids.
It comes complete with barbecue and picnic facilities to make a real day of it, and makes a nice spot to perch up and do some dolphin spotting of your own (earlier/later in the day are the best times for this).
What not to do:
As with any nature-based activities, please don’t harass the locals! The reason people are afforded the ability to get up close to the Bunbury dolphins is thanks to careful management by environmental authorities in the area, and it would be detrimental to betray that trust.
If you do have your own boat or are swimming in the bay and dolphins are naturally in your area, give them plenty of space.
Bunbury is a bustling city in its own right, so there’s plenty to see and do outside of dolphin discoveries – from farmers markets to wildlife parks, art galleries and hiking/walking trails, there’s plenty to experience in this gateway to the southwest.