Thus, we set out in the early morning (6.30/7am) to head to our activity for the day, swimming with seals and dolphins. The three hour swim and cruise is run by Moonraker Dolphin Swims and is friendly for anyone and everyone, from children to adults and people who can't swim (that's me)!
After being given suitably sized flippers and wetsuits, we boarded the "Moonraker" to reach our first destination, Chinaman's Hat. It was was quite chilly that day but we had to brave the cold to jump into our wetsuits, which came with a warning that they would be VERY hard to get into. They were, but we managed it eventually!
I've never been snorkelling, diving....anything really in the ocean before as I don't think I can swim well at all. Thus, you can imagine my nervousness when I realised I would be jumping into the vast, open ocean.
At Chinaman's Hat, we were to swim with the Australian Fur Seals. They have a very distinctive (and slightly unpleasant) odour as you draw closer. We got our snorkelling masks and flippers on and I nervously slid into the water.
For nervous swimmers like me - there are noodles available as a floating device, but for more nervous participants or children there is also a buoy for people to hold onto. It's also handy for when you get tired from swimming and need a rest.
Being extremely nervous I went for the buoy, and the benefit for me was that one of the Moonraker crew was in control of it and seemed to know the best areas and how close to the get to the seals. It was quite breathtaking and surreal being so close to them underwater and seeing the seals swimming and diving downwards. There are also underwater cameras available to hire on the boat, so you can try snap some shots underwater, like the one below!
We spent quite some time there, but then it was off to our next stop - Pope's Eye, part of Port Phillip Heads Marine Park. At this point my friend and I were feeling a little seasick. Perhaps the early hours combined with snorkelling masks not the same strength as our glasses made us a little uneasy. They only had two prescription masks, which weren't extremely strong but still enabled us to see everything. The boat did provide some sick tablets (although they had to be bought). It was recommended that we join the group in the ocean, as the rocking boat would be worse.
The water was a lot calmer here so I was ok to get off the boat with a noodle and the aim was to see some beautiful fish. I only saw a few though until someone from the boat spotted dolphins - this was our cue to swiftly get back on the boat and for us to scout for the dolphins in order to swim with them.
This would be a slightly different activity. They had a rope extend from the back of the boat and maximum of ten people to hold onto the rope and look down at the dolphins swimming by. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the dolphins for the rest of the trip despite the sighting and being in contact with other boats.
Thus we spent the rest of the ride gazing at the ocean and Mornington Peninsula beaches. It was disappointing that we didn't find dolphins but understandably part of nature, although they couldn't give us a great deal to compensate. I was still very happy that I got to swim with seals and experience something quite out of my comfort zone!
They also have some other benefits, including complimentary tea or coffee towards the end of the trip and hot showers in the same room as the toilets (handy for when you change out of your wetsuit and are shivering cold).
My meal at Picknics Cafe after not wanting to eat anything on the boat due to seasickness!
It only takes about half of your day, so this allowed for us to hang around at other places at that end of town. We ended up dropping by Rye, one of my favourite hangouts, for brunch at a place called Picknics Cafe. We then took a stroll along the beach and to the pier where we observed fishers - one even caught a small squid!
This part of the day was a little more calming after having something in our bellies and being on the stable land. I enjoyed the Moonraker experience a lot - of course it would have been better if we were able to see and swim with the dolphins, but the seals have definitely left some amazing memories with me.