Monkey Mia is a popular destination within the Shark Bay Marine Park and World Heritage Site.
Located around 900 kilometres north of Perth, and 25 kilometres northeast of the town of Denham, the main attraction at Monkey Mia are the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming to shore for more than fifty years.
The area was originally gazette in 1890 and used as a base for the pearling and fishing industries, which were both strong in that area. In the 1960s, a fisherman began feeding the bottlenose dolphins upon returning with their catch.
This in turn lead to more and more bottlenose dolphins arriving at the shore. Eventually, the news of these dolphins spread and more and more visitors started showing up to see the unique sight.
By 1985, it was a popular enough attraction that an information centre was built and by 1988, a government grant was provided to develop roads to the site, carparks, and other tourist facilities.
By 1990, Monkey Mia was declared a marine park. Recently, more attention has been given to the Aboriginal roots of the area, which run deep.
Now, in addition to the dolphins, there are a variety of attractions designed to educate the public about the rich Aboriginal history at Shark Bay and Monkey Mia.
Monkey Mia: What to Do
See the dolphins! This still remains the primary attraction at Monkey Mia.
Every year, more than 100,000 visitors flock to Monkey Mia to take part in a truly unique wildlife experience.
Run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia, Monkey Mia allows visitors to feed and wade right up to wild, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.
There is no set time for this experience as it really depends on when the dolphins arrive. However, they generally visit the beach between 7:45am – 12:00pm.
It is best to arrive early as the experience often ends well before noon. Monkey Mia has a 99% dolphin attendance rate so even if they make you wait, the odds of you missing out on dolphins altogether are very low!
Visitors can offer fish to up to four mature female dolphins the first three times they visit. If any dolphin arrives for food more than three times, they will not be fed anymore.
While the dolphin feed only occurs in the morning, visitors are welcome to stay at Monkey Mia through the afternoon, where they are likely to see the dolphins return to forage in the shallow water.
There are a few instructions that visitors wishing to take park in the Monkey Mia dolphin experience must follow. They are as follows:
1) Visitors should meet the park rangers at the front of the visitor centre for a briefing at 7:45am.
2) Visitors are to remain on the boardwalk until the dolphins arrive, at which point rangers will guide them down onto the beach.
3) The Department of Parks and Wildlife would like to ensure the dolphins maintain their natural behavior and as such ask that visitors don’t linger in the shallow water for too long for it will prevent the dolphins from feeding their calves.
4) Should you be selected to feed the dolphins, you are to follow all the ranger’s instructions and you are not to touch the dolphins. In fact, unless you are feeding the dolphins, it is illegal to approach a dolphin within 30 metres.
There is a fee for visiting the Monkey Mia reserve that is charged upon arrival.
If you are interested in wildlife, Monkey Mia and Shark Bay has more than just the dolphins to offer. Visitors to the area can enjoy a variety of different wildlife cruises that do a wonderful job of showcasing the diverse marine life in the area.
The waters in the area are filled with a variety of beautiful tropical fish.
Visitors can also explore the sea, and the wildlife, on a kayak rented from the Monkey Mia kayak hire.
The kayak is the perfect way for visitors to cruise the water and see the area’s diverse marine life at their own pace.
If you want to stay out of the water, try taking a camel ride along the area’s beautiful beaches.
This is a relaxing and truly unique way to take in the pristine white sand beauty of the coastline.
Recently, there has been an increased emphasis on the Aboriginal history of the Monkey Mia and Shark Bay area.
Now, visitors can take a number of cultural walks that tell the fascinating Aboriginal history of the area.
Visitors can learn about how the Aboriginal people used and preserved the land prior to European settlement, as well as all the tales and Dreamtime stories associated with the area.
Shark Bay and Monkey Mia have no shortage of accommodation options. Whether you are looking for a simple and affordable backpacker’s hostel, or a luxurious and relaxing resort, there is something for you at Monkey Mia.
The Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort comes equipped with a swimming pool, hot tub, bar, and multiple restaurants, making it perfect for families or groups travelling together.
Other excellent accommodation options are One the Deck @ Shark Bay, Oceanside Village, and the Tradewinds Seafront Apartments, which are great for those looking for a more private and self-contained holiday.
How to Get There
The area is serviced by the Monkey Mia/Shark Bay Regional Airport. This airport is serviced four times per week from Perth.
If you are travelling on a high budget, it is also possible to book a charter flight from a variety of destinations.
If you are travelling from the north, you will take the same highway south from Carnarvon to the Overlander Roadhouse turn-off (200 kilometres from Carnarvon).
Visitors can also travel via coach. Integrity Coachlines Australia operates three trips from Perth per week.
The coach will drop you at the Overlander Roadhouse turn-off. From there, visitors will have to make arrangements for a shuttle service to Denham or Monkey Mia.
Land transport is not readily available between the turn-off and Denham or Monkey Mia without reserving it first.