Sydney based foodie with a bad case of the travel bug. Visit my blog for my travels, food reviews and recipes at www.house-in-tillford.com/
Published March 16th 2017
A sunrise dip with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins has been on my bucket list for as long as I have been keeping a bucket list and I was lucky enough to tick it off my list over the weekend in Port Stephens.
The experience with Dolphin Swim Australia began bright and early at five in the morning. When we arrived we were warmly greeted by the crew and given our wetsuits and motion sickness tablets (the water can get rocky!). As we began to set sail we are briefed on what to expect, how to spot a dolphin pod (huge crowds of birds hovering over one spot in the water is normally a good indicator) and how the actual swim will work. After the briefing, we are welcome to have some of the provided breakfast but because I'm someone vulnerable to seasickness, I stayed on deck where the fresh air could hit my face, many others did the same more so they didn't miss any dolphin sightings and to take in the beautiful sunrise over the water.
We were on the water for a few hours and had a few false alarms (at one point we had headed towards a flock of birds thinking it was an indicator of a pod of dolphins but instead it was a whale! A bonus spot!) but finally just as were about to give up we came across a large pod of dolphins. It was amazing to see so many dolphins in the wild.
Because Dolphin Swim is dedicated to not interfering with the dolphins or harming them in any way, they do not lure the dolphins in with food nor do they chase them, rather the closest we get is 50 metres and see if the dolphins come to us which they typically do because they like to ride the waves created by the boat. We are also not allowed to touch them although during the swim they might come up and touch you! It is a rare experience to interact with dolphins without taking them out of their natural habitat or endangering them.
The swim is done in small groups and involves entering a net in front of the boat and then sliding off it until you are holding a rope and under the boat, being pulled along with the boat. This part honestly can induce a little panic because you can take in a bit of water but the crew are great at keeping you calm and can talk you through it and it helps that there is a magnificent distraction of dolphins swimming all around you! A tip they tell you to attract the dolphins closer is to hum loudly. The swim goes for about 5-10 minutes but it flies by. But you still get to enjoy seeing the dolphins swim and play from the deck. If time permits, you may get the opportunity to swim again.
For someone who does experience seasickness, I was worried I may not enjoy the experience but the tablets did the trick and instead I found the experience totally amazing. To be able to see both whales and dolphins in the wild was incredible and the fact that you get to swim with dolphins was just a once in a lifetime experience. If you are not confident about going in the water, there also an option to purchase an observer experience. Would definitely recommend this experience to all animal lovers