Australia is land famous for its miles of untouched white sandy beaches, perfect weather and crystal blue waters. It is a country that has been blessed with a variety of places for people to interact with dolphins. From the remote coast of Western Australia to 75 minutes from one of the countries most populous cities, these are the best locations to view, swim and feed dolphins in Australia.
Monkey Mia â€“ Central Western Australia, Australia
Monkey Mia is Australia's most famous wild dolphin interaction location. For over 40 years, crowds have flocked to this remote but stunning coastal region of Western Australia to see majestic wild dolphins swim into the shallows of the beach and accept food from amazed onlookers. Naturally being wild animals, there is no set time when the dolphins will arrive but the dolphins regularly visit the beach throughout the day. Feeding is restricted to mornings, between 7:30am and 12:00 midday, to encourage the dolphins to spend more time offshore doing their natural activities in the afternoon. Local conservation officials control the feeding, picking up to 3 times in the morning at random for lucky on-lookers to enter the shallows and feed the animals. This is done so that the dolphins do not get used to consistent feeding times, which helps to encourage them to hunt like normal.
The only major downside to Monkey Mia is its accessibility. It is over 8 hours by car from the state capital Perth and over 4 hours from the closest major city. The Western Australia government gave special permission to transform a small area behind the beach into an environmentally sustainable resort, with accommodation options ranging from camping to 4.5 star beachfront villas. Tourists are serviced by a small store, petrol station and a series of restaurants and bars. If you have the opportunity, a visit to Monkey Mia is an activity the whole family will remember fondly for the decades to come.
- The premier location in Australia to see and interact with wild dolphins
- Large numbers of dolphins who will visit the shallows near the beach multiple times per day; perfect if you are just travelling through Monkey Mia
- Seeing and interacting with the dolphins is free
- A unique opportunity to view dolphins swimming, hunting and playing in crystal clear waters with small crowds
- Is almost literally in the middle of nowhere. It is about 850km (520 miles) from the state capital and 400km (250 miles) from any major centre. Some see this as a positive as it keeps the numbers down, the area clean and natural and makes seeing the dolphins after travelling such a large distance more worthwhile
- Unlike the other options in this guide, you can not pay to guarantee that you will get to personally feed a dolphin.
Tangalooma (Just Outside Of Brisbane) â€“ Queensland, Australia
Located on idyllic Moreton Island, a short 75-minute cruise or ferry transfer from Brisbane, Tangalooma Resort is fortunate to host a pod of 11 wild dolphins who frequent one of the resorts secluded beaches each evening at sun set. Almost every night of the year, these dolphins captivate tourists and locals alike, with facilities for large crowds to watch the dolphin feeding from the beach and jetty while participants who purchased the optional dolphin feeding ferry cruise package or are staying at the resort feed and swim with these beautiful and majestic wild animals. Conservation officials are on hand to educate the crowd about Tangalooma's wild dolphin population and to ensure that their safety is preserved. Ferries and cruises from Brisbane make the journey across Moreton Bay to Tangalooma each day at 7am, 10am and 5pm, but you can only watch but not participate in the dolphin feeding if you take the 5pm cruise.
Tangalooma Resort is a wonderful location to spend a night or even more, with a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Tangalooma's secluded beaches have virtually no waves and are perfect for children and the resort boasts a wide variety of family friendly activities for both day trippers and resort guests, including nature walks, swimming, tennis, a golf driving range and full day spa and massage facilities.
- A rare opportunity to interact with wild dolphins in a beautiful natural setting, close to a major city
- Knowledgable and entertaining guides makes learning about Tangalooma's wild dolphins fun for the whole family
- A great all day activity from Brisbane
- Accommodation options allow families with small children to take the children to bed after the dusk feeding without having to catch the ferry back to Brisbane while the children are tired
- To feed the dolphins you either need to be staying overnight at the resort or you have to take the 7 or 10am ferry to the island, meaning at a minimum you will be at Tangalooma for 8 hours.
- You can watch but can't participate in the dolphin feeding if you take the 5pm cruise from Brisbane
- You can only see and feed the dolphins at sun set, which may not fit into your holiday schedule
Seaworld â€“ Gold Coast Australia
Sea World is the only place in Australia where you are certain to see dolphins, irrespective of the time of day or year. As one of Australia's most popular theme parks and conveniently located at Australia's premier tourist destination the Gold Coast, Seaworld is an easy 90 minute drive from the Queensland capital, Brisbane. Sea World is considered the best Gold Coast theme park for children and families but beyond just being a theme park, Sea World is renowned for their dolphin breeding, rescue and rehabilitation programs as well as their fabled dolphin shows housed in the custom Dolphin Cove covered amphitheatre. Along with multiple show times hosted daily, dolphins can be viewed in their custom holding areas at all times during the day but it is Seaworld's Dolphin Encounter that provides the premium dolphin swimming and feeding experience at the park. The additional fee of $165 for adults and $110 for children (on top of the regular theme park entry fees) ensures that this activity isn't for holidaymakers on a tight budget. For this price you get to swim with a variety of dolphins for approximately an hour, sharing the water with senior Seaworld dolphin trainers who will show you how they train the animals and answer any questions. You will get to touch and feed the dolphins and there are plenty of opportunities for photos, but a word of warning, to get the best photos you really need one of your party to not participate but instead stay out of the water to take some great candid snaps of your group.
- (Assuming you have booked ahead) Guaranteed to see, feed and swim with dolphins at convenient times
- Professional trainers who will give detailed information about the dolphins, their breeding and natural habits and how they are trained by the trainers at Seaworld
- Central Gold Coast location â€“ perfect to combine as part of your Gold Coast holiday
- Located within one of Australia's most popular tourist attraction â€“ after your dolphin experience, your family will still have all day to explore all of the wonderful sights and attractions that Sea World has to offer.
- Wet suits are provided for no additional cost â€“ Queensland is famous for having terrific warm weather year round but on the rare chance that you arrive on a cold day, you will still be comfortably warm in the water.
- Dolphins are kept in captivity â€“ although they are treated wonderfully, it isn't quite the same as swimming with wild dolphins in a natural setting
- It's expensive â€“ each member of your travelling party must have a full day theme day pass on top of the additional expense of the dolphin experience.