Adventure Travel

Best Spots to See Dolphins in Australia

One of the most memorable scenes in the extraordinary BBC documentary Planet Earth occurs in the “Shallow Seas” episode, when a pod of dolphins hydroplane on a beach to grab a fishy snack. And where was this beach pray tell? Why, in Western Australia.

With that, check out the best spots in Australia to see dolphins live, up close and personal. HD is good but real life? Priceless.

Shark Bay, Western Australia

Monkey Mia dolphins – Photo credit

Shark Bay, one of the most incomparable UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the planet, covers 22,000 km2 and teems with rich biodiversity. Herds of dugongs graze on vast seagrass meadows off the coast of Carnarvon and, over in the Hamelin Pool Nature Reserve, the most diverse ensemble of stromatolites forms an otherworldy seascape.

The main event in Shark Bay, however, has to be in Monkey Mia. The tourist resort 800 km north of Perth is a legendary bottlenose dolphin sanctuary. Visitors to Monkey Mia can watch the inquisitive, intelligent creatures feed and play three times a day, for a nominal fee.

Where to stay: Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort

Monkey Mia City Guide

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Western Australia

A considerable drive south of Shark Bay in the Rockingham suburb of metro Perth, dolphin tour operators ferry visitors to the waters of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Most operate a mere 45 minutes south of Perth and offer intimate and interactive rendezvous with wild dolphin pods. Interactive, as in jump in and swim with actual dolphins in the wild. A typical half-day tour comes at a fairly steep price but the experience is obviously unforgettable. You have to dig down deep to roll with dolphins.

Where to stay: Medina Grand Perth

Perth City Guide

Hervey Bay, Queensland

Some 300 km north of Brisbane and a fair distance more south of Cairns, Hervey Bay stands as one of the best spots to whale and dolphin-watch Down Under. Spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Fraser Island is just across the Great Sandy Strait and, all told, the collective area is a vibrant base for a vivid cavalcade of marine life.

Where to stay: Akama Resort Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay City Guide

Port Stephens, New South Wales

A comfortable 160 km drive northeast of Sydney and bam! dolphins, dolphins everywhere. Port Stephens is a New South Wales marine mecca and notable tourist hotspot, with breezy coastal suburbs and gorgeous bay scenery. Aquatic biodiversity is a flagship attraction in the huge, natural harbour, from rays and sharks, to moray eels and yes, dolphins.

Where to stay: Medina Grand Perth

Mantra Aqua Nelson Bay

Jervis Bay, New South Wales

Jervis Bay dolphins – Photo credit

Tourism drives the local Jervis Bay economy for a very good reason: Jervis Bay National Park protects a remarkably diverse swath of New South Wales. Needless to say, dolphin cruises are an integral, popular activity in the area, with no shortage of facilitators. In hindsight, the fact that a nuclear power plant never got past the proposal phase a few decades back was definitely a net positive for Jervis Bay.

Where to stay: Swissotel Sydney

Sydney City Guide

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