The Dolphin Sanctuary
In many Facebook groups there's always so much talk around Monkey Mia and if it is worth it. To be honest, it depends on what you are expecting from the experience. We thoroughly enjoy visiting for the day.
When visiting everyone is required to pay an entry fee, this allows you entry for 24 hours (other pass options are available too). They hold 3 information sessions a day and we had every intention of arriving for the first feeding which could happen any time from 7 am….but I don't know who we were kidding as we love our sleep and only made it there in time for the last session.
We chilled on the grass, keeping a keen eye on the crystal clear water for any signs of dolphin movement and were lucky a dolphin came to shore and was followed by two others. When the dolphins come in the guide makes her way down to the water and invites you to enter the water up to your ankles, with everyone standing in a line along the shore whilst the dolphins swim up and down or go back out into the deeper water (in our case one of the dolphins were going out to nurse) whilst the guide does her thing. Just like with babies, there’s routines with the dolphins and they know which cues mean the presentation is over and when they’ll be getting their feeds. As they don't want the dolphins to rely on being fed, the amount each one is given is monitored so not everyone gets a chance to feed a dolphin. We weren't chosen this time, however Shayla was chosen the last time we visited Monkey Mia.
We took the kiddies for a walk up the beach and spotted dolphins swimming up to people kayaking, my eyes were filled with excitement so we hired a paddle boat for all 4 of us. Never again will we hire a paddle boat. Back home, Shayla is a mermaid, we live along the coast and spend most of the warmer weekends on the beach where Shayla is either on top of the water in her kayak or body board or under the water snorkelling. Take the kid out of her normal environment and she freaks out. We were in waste deep water and there was nothing we could do to make her chill out, so there was no way a dolphin was coming up to us! The Paddle Boat was returned quicker than it took us to walk up the beach.
The Boughshed Restaurant was a lovely spot for a beer and ice creams before heading back to Big Lagoon. There is accommodation available in Monkey Mia, but we chose to stay at Big Lagoon as we love being in the bush which means we had a little extra cash to spend elsewhere.
A hot tip, if you are looking for souvenirs always check out the supermarkets or news agencies, you may find them cheaper than the visitors centres etc. The supermarket in Monkey Mia has some great variety with fresh fruit, some groceries and souvenirs. The cashier was super lovely, her and Shayla had an Ice Ice Baby Battle, I wish I recorded it.
If you are wanting to visit Monkey Mia but wanting to do it on a budget definitely pack yourself a picnic and make the most of your entry pass. Do you recommend other places in Australia to visit dolphins up close? Share your tips below.