If a swim with dolphins is on your wish-list, you’re in the best place to realise your dream.
Western Australia’s coastal waters are frequently visited by large pods of friendly wild dolphins, so wherever you take dip, a magical face-to-face meeting is always a possibility.
For the best chance of enjoying an aquatic encounter, head for Rockingham and Bunbury, not far from Perth, and join an organised dolphin swim tour where the bluest waters have been inhabited by dolphins for many years.
Duration: 2 days
Day 1: Perth to Rockingham and Bunbury
Drive 45 minutes south from Perth to the coastal town of Rockingham to begin your two-day dolphin swim adventure. Here, in the sheltered waters of the bay and neighbouring Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, bottlenose dolphins have been regular visitors since the 1960s.
Swimming with these intelligent and playful creatures in their natural environment is a truly magical experience you’ll never forget.
Swim tours operate from September to early June and depart from the jetty early in the morning, so be sure to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get there.
Your swim with dolphins can be anything from three to six hours, depending on how quick and easy it is to find the dolphins on the day.
Whether you’re back ashore in time for lunch or afternoon tea, there are plenty of waterfront cafes and restaurants just a short walk from the jetty.
From here, continue south on the Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway to the cosmopolitan port city of Bunbury, where you’ll find your second dolphin encounter.
The drive takes less than one and a half hours, so you may have a little time before dinner to discover some of Bunbury’s rich maritime history, or get a glimpse of what the coast looked like 20,000 years ago with a walk through Mangrove Cove.
Choose from a variety of accommodation including resorts, motels, villas or caravan parks.
Day 2: Bunbury
Make your way down to Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre in Koombana Bay for another early morning departure by boat.
It’s the only place on Australia’s coast where you can enjoy close encounters with dolphins in the water, on a boat or at the shoreline, and learn about these fascinating marine mammals in the interpretive centre.
Swim tours operate from October to April, offering snorkellers of all ages and abilities an intimate and exhilarating experience with some of the 100+ wild bottlenose dolphins who call Koombana Bay home.
To refuel after a thrill-filled morning, head for Bunbury’s waterfront cafes, or the ‘Cappuccino Strip’ on Victoria Street.
Spend the afternoon exploring Bunbury’s heritage, art galleries and contemporary boutiques, or venture inland to the Ferguson Valley, where a veritable feast of award-winning wines, fresh produce, beautiful tuart forests and captivating historic country towns await.
From here, you can either make the leisurely two-hour journey back to Perth, or continue south to the world-famous premium wine and surf region of Margaret River, or the majestic tall-timber forests, historic milling towns and gourmet providors of Nannup, Pemberton and Manjimup.