2020 will go down as many things, but one will surely be the year Western Australians really got out and discovered just how incredible our State is.
With travel outside of the country very difficult for large chunks of it, people are heading north en masse to discover the wild Coral Coast.
One of many highlights along this incredible stretch of coast is the world-famous dolphin experience at Monkey Mia.
What Is It:
Monkey Mia is part of the Shark Bay Marine Park, a World Heritage Site made up of red dirt dunes, long white beaches and some of the most marine life-rich waters in WA.
Its main attraction is of course the bottlenose dolphins, which have been coming up to the shore and interacting with humans for over 50 years.
While in the past visitors were able to feed and touch the visiting dolphins, it’s now a little more restricted and supervised, though no less exhilarating.
Where Is It:
Monkey Mia Reserve is located on the Peron Peninsula, around 25km northeast of Denham and 850km north of Perth.
You can tackle the 10 hour drive along NW Coast Hwy and Shark Bay Rd, or get a flight to Monkey Mia Airport in just a couple of hours.
What To Do:
Get up close and personal with some friendly bottlenose dolphins – there are two main groups that like to visit the shallow waters, themselves making just a small percentage of the 3000+ that live in the bay!
Dolphin experience times can vary, although they are offered fish by park rangers during their first three visits between 7:45am and midday.
Keep an eye out outside of those times though, they’ll often swim around the area over the course of any given day.
You may be allowed to feed the dolphins, although it’s not guaranteed and will depend on park rangers on the day.
Outside of the dolphin visiting area makes for some excellent swimming, snorkelling or just lazing on the beach, with an abundance of marine life to be seen within the shallows.
Keen walkers would do well to check out the Wulyibidi Yaninyina Trail (Malgana Aboriginal term for “walking Peron”), which is around 4km and will only take an hour or two (less if you do the short loop).
Monkey Mia is also on the border of the Francois Peron National Park, where the desert spectacularly collides with the sea and also home to some must-do Aboriginal Tours.
There are plenty of camping and other accommodation options in the area, and if you want to be right in the thick of it the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort recently received a huge upgrade.
Outside of Monkey Mia, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is chock-a-block full of experiences to take in.
What Not To Do:
Touch or feed the dolphins – the temptation to do either is obviously there, but it’s imperative you let the dolphins check you out and that’s it – look but don’t touch!
Fail to book ahead – Monkey Mia is incredibly busy around the middle of the year, and with overseas travel off the cards it’s important you book well ahead.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration on what else to do along the Coral Coast, here’s an in-depth road trip guide to doing it right.
While dolphins have been the main attraction for decades, in recent years emu’s have been making a good fist of being just as friendly…
Cover photo by Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience