SWIM IN SYNC IN PORT STEPHENS

Regarded as Australia’s dolphin capital, Port Stephens is home to a remarkable dolphin encounter. Most swim-with-dolphin experiences involve floating in the ocean and waiting in a stationary position until the dolphins approach you, but with Dolphin Swim Australia, swimmers are pulled slowly alongside the dolphins. Participants are attached to a harness and clipped to a tow rope between the twin bows of a catamaran. As the dolphins move playfully through the water, you effectively swim in time with them. 

Where is it?
Port Stephens is just a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney. Tours with Dolphin Swim Tours leave from Dock C of d’Albora Marina in Nelson Bay and operate regularly from Thursday to Sunday, with additional days available during New South Wales school holiday periods. Guests are asked to arrive at the dock at 5am, so consider spending the night in Port Stephens prior to your tour.

PLAY IN MELBOURNE’S BAY

Melbourne is home to a vast harbour – Port Phillip Bay. About 80 frolicking bottlenose dolphins live here, and two local tour operators, Polperro Dolphin Swim and Moonraker Dolphin Swims, offer a wonderful snorkelling experience. Simply hop into the water and dolphins and Australian fur seals will swim around and beneath you, often in circles. Afterwards, you’ll tuck into homemade scones, a classic Australian treat that is perfect with tea. 

Where is it?
Port Phillip Bay is just a 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne‘s city centre. Polperro Dolphin Swim operate during dolphin season from late September to early May. Tours depart from Sorrento Pier twice daily. Moonraker Dolphin Swims operate from November to April and offer a range of tours that depart daily from Sorrento Pier on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula.

FROLIC WITH DOLPHINS NEAR ADELAIDE

This wild dolphin encounter operates in the waters off Adelaide‘s favourite beachside town, Glenelg. Hop on board Temptation in your supplied wetsuit, snorkel and mask, hang on to a flotation line, and wait for common and bottlenose dolphins to gather around to play, swimming around and beneath you. Thousands of dolphins call the Gulf St Vincent home, so dolphin sightings are virtually guaranteed.

Where is it?
Just 20 minutes from the city centre of Adelaide, Temptation Sailing tours depart from Marina Pier in Glenelg. Tours depart daily during dolphin season at 7.40am and return to the pier at approximately 11.15am.

WILD ENCOUNTERS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

In the Bunbury Geographe region of Western Australia, you can swim with wild dolphins under the watchful eye of a marine biologist and volunteers from the Dolphin Discovery Centre. Venture into the open waters of Koombana Bay, where the curious bottlenose dolphins usually choose to approach swimmers. As in all other locations, encounters rely on dolphins approaching swimmers of their own accord.

Where is it?
Two hours south of Perth or just 1.5 hours north of the premium wine region of Margaret River, the Dolphin Discovery Centre operates swim encounter tours from the beginning of November to the end of April. Swim tours depart daily at 8am from the Dolphin Discovery Centre, just a 15-minute walk or 5-minute drive from the Bunbury city centre.

MEET THE LOCALS NEAR PERTH

Swim with dolphins on this remarkable tour of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. The knowledgeable crew from Rockingham Wild Encounters has, over the years, befriended hundreds of local dolphins that call the area’s sheltered bays and islands home. You may see mothers nursing calves, discover how dolphins use stingrays to catch their dinner or simply watch the boys showing off for the ladies. 

Where is it?
Less than a one-hour drive south of Perth, Rockingham Wild Encounters tours are available during dolphin season from early September to early June, though exact dates may vary each year. Tours depart from the Cruising Yacht Club in Rockingham, and transportation can be arranged from Perth.

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