Monkey Mia Reserve—on the western coast of Australia in Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is one of the world’s most reliable places to see dolphins in the wild. For decades, bottlenose dolphins have been paying regular visits to the clear, shallow waters right off the beach, much to the delight of visitors who make the trip from Perth.
Monkey Mia can be visited on a long weekend from Perth, but opting for a longer road trip along the western coast of Australia allows you to visit the reserve in addition to other destinations such as the Pinnacles and Exmouth. Multi-day tours from Perth offer a guided experience in which accommodations, transportation, and schedules are prearranged.
The dolphin encounters take place under the supervision of rangers from Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service who lead feedings with a regulated amount of food so as not to interfere with the dolphins’ natural diet. Standing in knee-deep water, you watch dolphins swim up to the beach; select visitors will be chosen to help with feedings. Other things to do at Monkey Mia include swimming, snorkeling, boat tours, and walking trails.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Monkey Mia Resort has accommodations, restaurants, and other facilities and services.
- During the ranger feedings, dolphins may approach you, but you should not initiate any contact.
- There is no swimming with the dolphins.
- The nearest town to Monkey Mia is Denham, a 30-minute drive.
How to Get There
Monkey Mia is 530 miles (850 kilometers) north of Perth—about a 9.5-hour drive. Alternatively, you can fly to Monkey Mia airport on a 2-hour flight from Perth. Guided tours include transportation for a no-hassle trip.
When to Get There
The dolphins are wild, so there’s no guarantee of a sighting, but the best time is in the morning. The dolphins show up at the beach other times of day as well, but feedings only happen during their first three visits, typically from 7:30am to 12pm.
About a 50-minute drive south of Monkey Mia, Shell Beach is one of the only beaches in the world made entirely from shells. Millions of tiny shells create a bright white beach that stretches for more than 40 miles (60 kilometers). The beach makes for a great picnic location on a drive into or out of Monkey Mia. Bring your swimsuit for a dip in the hyper-salty water.