Last Updated on December 15, 2021
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort was one of those places that I first saw in an Australia guide book (…back before blogs really existed!) and was like yep, I have to go there! It is a destination which gives you the opportunity to encounter WILD dolphins right from the beach. No boats, no tours, just dolphins coming right up to the beach! They have been visiting the beach on an almost daily basis for over 50 years!
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is located in the Shark Bay World Heritage region of Western Australia. It’s around a 9 hour drive from Perth.
Monkey Mia Caravan Park
For us, the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort was the perfect stop on our Western Australia road trip. We rented a camper van and simply used the Monkey Mia caravan park as one of our night stopovers! One of the biggest conveniences of staying at the caravan park is the location. The next nearest accommodation options are in Denham, 25 minutes from Monkey Mia and then you still have to pay a day pass to visit Monkey Mia.
The caravan park IS expensive, with powered pitches starting at $57 a night. There are also a variety of different cabins available, from budget rooms with shared bathrooms ($150+) to 3 bedroom beachfront villas ($485+).
Since my visit, they have renovated and improved the Monkey Mia caravan park. We made use of the swimming pool, the gift shop and convenience store and had a takeaway from the restaurant to give ourselves a night off cooking! Of course, being walking distance from the beach is also a huge bonus!
The beach was SO peaceful and had quite a strange atmosphere! People would either be standing on the sand or standing waist deep in the sea just staring out at the horizon, looking for dolphins!
There is a section of the beach which is closed off for swimming and boating. This is to give the dolphins an area to go where they know they’ll be ‘safe’ if they don’t feel like coming into contact with humans. It is illegal to approach the dolphins outside of the educational talks. If a dolphin approaches you in the swimming area, you are expected to stand still and NOT TOUCH IT, just enjoy its company.
Aside from dolphins, you’ll find other wildlife that call Monkey Mia home. There are pelicans and EMUS just wandering around the place! One emu stuck its head inside our camper van, it freaked me out big time just because of how ginormous they are…there’s not really much space to hide in a Toyota HiAce! Anyway, it was an interesting encounter and a memory I’ll always have from my time in Australia!
Monkey Mia resort is treated to some amazing sunrises and sunsets. It’s still the location of one of my favourite ever travel sunrise photos!
Monkey Mia Dolphin Feeding Times
Monkey Mia dolphin feeding takes place 3 times a day, only in the morning and not after noon. If you want to see it, visit early. There are no set feed times, they vary each day.
I can imagine it now, there are bound to be wildlife/eco fans that don’t agree with the dolphin feeding. So I’ll give you a little bit of background on the history of Monkey Mia. This breed of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphins first started visiting the beach back in the 60s when fishermen would feed them fish when they returned to shore (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen similar things happening in snorkel tours where the animals are encouraged with food for the sake of the tourists). And yes, this isn’t the best practise.
But in the 80s researchers went to Monkey Mia and began studying the dolphins. They brought in restrictions and protections to help the dolphin pod to thrive rather than suffer. As mentioned, the Monkey Mia dolphin feeding talks only take place 3 times a day and even then only the same 5 female dolphins are fed. Each dolphin is fed a total of 15 fish a day.
This way the feeds act more like a snack and the dolphins are still encouraged to act like proper wild dolphins and still go out and hunt/feed their young etc. Visitors are invited into the shallow waters to listen to the educational talk.
DO NOT WEAR SUNCREAM AT THIS TIME! It can sting the dolphin’s eyes. Even then there is a huge growth in ‘reef safe’ suncreams that are recommended for swimming in the seas around the world. Sun Bum is a product example of this.
Hand Feeding The Dolphins
A few people during each talk are asked if they’d like to hand feed one of the dolphins a fish. This is always done one on one with a ranger to ensure the safety of the dolphins.
Although the dolphins are present at the beach almost everyday, they are still wild animals and have full control as to how close they get to the shores. The control of food means it’s something they don’t rely on, so if they don’t come forward, they won’t go hungry.
Obviously with the popularity of attractions increasing, this could potentially get less and less. For example, I visited the week after the Easter weekend in Australia. All 3 feeds took place and 20+ dolphins came close to the shore (around 200 live around Monkey Mia) and all 5 females were fed. Just 4 days earlier on Easter Sunday, over 720 people turned up for the feed. Due to the amount of people present, the dolphins decided to stay back and only one feed took place.
I liked the way the dolphins at the Monkey Mia Resort, have this freedom of choice. But my goodness, what an experience! The dolphins came within around 3ft of us and one stopped right in front of me and was making eye contact with me. They say dolphins are intelligent and sociable and I can well believe it.
Learning About The Dolphins
For those that are interested, you can learn about the dolphin family trees. I purchased a guide that had information on the dolphins that frequent the Monkey Mia beach. Although only 5 get fed, you’ll see other members of the pod swimming around. I was lucky enough to see a young calf during my visit! The guide has pictures of the different fins. This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to tell dolphins apart, as they stick out above the water and will often have ‘nicks’ or scratches from things like shark attacks.
Is the Monkey Mia resort on your bucket list?