Life is about the journey - some roads are not always what they seem but you sure learn a great deal from them!
Published August 20th 2014
Monkey Mia is on the Shark Bay Peninsula and is about a 10 hour drive north of Perth which includes a few (much needed) coffee breaks. It is well known for the dolphins which visit for daily feeds. It is probably one of the few spots on this planet where dolphins swim within 30 metres of you. It is also one of the few spots where you have the opportunity to feed a wild dolphin.
Shark Bay, which is a World Heritage site, has always had a reputation for enriched marine life. In the 1960s some dolphins began visiting the fishermen hoping to get a few more pieces of their favorite fish. Of course this tradition began to grow and as dolphins teach each other, soon generations began to visit the Monkey Mia region for their daily fishy supplements.
Nicky - one of the Dolphins - requesting a little more than 500 grams!
Up until a couple of years ago, dolphins were given a huge chunk of their daily food allowance through these daily feeds. In hindsight, this had a dramatic effect on the survival of dolphins as some dolphins would wait patiently in the bay area hoping to get a few more scraps while their calves was left unattended. As a result, young calves did not learn how to hunt or defend themselves and many of their offspring died from shark attacks or malnutrition.
Monkey Mia Dolphin Research began to adopt a different policy giving dolphins only 500 grams of fish per feed, which is only a marginal percentage of their daily intake. In this way, dolphins will not only hunt for their food but also teach their young how to hunt and to defend themselves.
Dolphins are fed 3 times a day, giving tourists and guests the opportunity to feed a wild dolphin. Not everyone gets a turn, as people are selected randomly. However, being within a metre of a dolphin is an experience that you don't often get and feeding them is just a bonus to the whole experience itself.
There is plenty of accommodation in the Shark Bay area; however the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort offers a range of accommodation options. Whether it be camping or a five star beach side lodge, you will definitely find something that will suit your budget and style.
As I was on a budget I chose a shared accommodation option. The description of the stay was a little vague and I spent most of the 10 hours driving up worrying if I would be sharing a room with some random strangers. To my relief I found that it was two rooms with adjoining bathroom, which meant I would be sharing a bathroom. Of course this was like winning Lotto because I have booked a cabin in a caravan park which required an 'out house' experience when nature called! The bonus was that I could see the beach from the sliding door of the room - so who needs a 5 star lodge?
The room itself was very basic and could sleep four with a double bed and a bunk of two single beds. There was not much in the line of cupboards for hanging clothes however there were some bedside drawers and two cubes to store your luggage.
The Locals at the 'Pelican Bar'! Sounds fishy to me!!
There was also no kitchenette, so if you are the one (like myself) who likes a hot cup of tea in the morning then it will require an 'out house' experience to the communal kitchen. Here you will find all the basics needed to prepare a meal including ample fridges to store those perishables.
Of course, when it comes to communal, it is best to lock and leave your things. I thought I would test the boundaries of resistance by leaving my yogurt in the fridge for the next morning. I was not surprised to find that the yogurt had disappeared overnight.
Everyone who visits Monkey Mia is charged an entrance fee which can range from $8.50. If you are planning to stay longer than a day you can purchase a holiday permit. This is the only way that Monkey Mia can maintain and preserve the environment, and it is no different to other national parks around Australia.
The Monkey Mia Resort offers a range of activities outside dolphin feeding. Some of these activities require a booking, such as the tennis courts, however most of them are based on a 'first come first serve' basis.
If you are feeling a little energetic and adventurous you could take hold of the opportunity to rent a paddle boat or a kayak. Waters that are as smooth as a mirror mean that you could quite easily see a different perspective of Shark Bay and be close enough to the shore when you need a little rest.
On the whole, the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has all the basic necessities for time away. They have a little store with products and food. If you want to send a postcard to friends and family, they have an excellent postal system. And they have two restaurants with two completely different catering experiences.
The first of these is the Monkey Bar which is more like an open pub. Of course with this option you have a choice of pub meals which include burgers, fish and chips. There is an outdoor patio which stretches to the outskirts of the beach. It has that sort of "Tarzan in the Jungle" feel which is more wild and rugged than serene. The indoor section is small, with a pool table planted in the middle, tables along the wall and a TV which is normally set on sports.
All food orders are collect at a window which is served in takeaway containers. While this may be the rustic part of the resort this option gives you the opportunity to take a stroll down the beach and enjoy a meal right by the water's edge while listening to birds chirp to the sunset.
The second restaurant option is the Boughshed. This is a little more 'up market' with classy table settings with a view to die for. The noise level is a lot softer, and one can hear people speak with a soft tone of classical music in the background. Of course prices equal the experience and you definitely will not be served burger and ships in a takeaway container.
A Hint of Caribbean Mixed with a Delicate Taste of Style!
The Boughshed is the only venue where you can purchase breakfast and is also the only place to have a GREAT cup of coffee. Personally there is nothing better than having a good cup of coffee by the beach with dolphins swimming metres from you! Is this not a taste of paradise?
A Range of Adventures Just Waiting for Your Booking!
Outside normal activities The Monkey Mia Resort takes bookings for ocean cruises. These cruises can range from watching wild life such as dugongs to deep sea fishing. It all depends on your preference, budget and time.
The Black Pearl Farm - I wonder if Jack Sparrow would be On Board?
However, if you're looking for something that offers experience plus retail therapy, then you may wish to board a cruise to the local Black Pearl Farm. Their headquarters are based off shore giving you a whole new experience of shopping in the bay.
I only stayed 3 days at Monkey Mia and felt that was way too short. There is plenty to do and see in this area and with summer almost year round, it makes for a great break from the cold and wet. If you plan to make this your destination over Christmas, I would recommend ensuring there is accommodation. I heard that accommodation is sought after over the festive period, so you may wish to look at surrounding areas for other accommodation options.
I would say that the best part of my stay was the early morning walk. I made sure I was 'out and about' before the sunrise because Monkey Mia has one of the best sunrises in the world. Of course the best part was the fact that I had the beach practically to myself and experienced dolphins swimming right next to me. A walk with dolphins is a very rare and memorable moment and can be experienced by anyone take that voyage up north.