Getting to Shark Bay isn’t an easy task, the 10-hour drive from Perth, WA (nearly 900km) can be tiring if you do it in a day like we did. A better option might be to stop in Geraldton for a few days and explore the stunning Kalbarri National Park before heading on to Shark Bay. Either way, the drive is well worth it! make sure you leave early if you plan to drive in one day. We stayed in a small hotel across the street from the beach our first night. Every room came equipped with a kitchen which was great. Breakfast in Australia can be pricey. Having the ability to cook breakfast in our hotel allowed us to save money and eat at nicer restaurants for dinner.
On the first day in Shark Bay, I took a drive to Monkey Mia, a confusing name as there are in fact no monkeys. Instead, it has become a popular tourist destination due to its daily visits from wild bottlenose dolphins. Monkey Mia relies on the willingness of dolphins to visit, unlike aquariums and ocean parks that house captive-bred dolphins. This gives visitors the chance to see wild dolphins interacting naturally. Unfortunately, that does mean that dolphins may not show up during your visit. I assume the chance of not seeing a dolphin is quite low, however. They are smart creatures and the lure of free food is too strong. How many people would turn down an offer of free food?
We arrived at Monkey Mia just in time for the 10am feeding. The dolphin feedings happen up to three times a day starting at 8am and ending at 12pm, so be sure to arrive early if you want to see the dolphins. Three dolphins showed up to our feeding, including a longtime visitor named Surprise, a ~40-year-old bottlenose dolphin. The dolphins can be identified based on bite marks and fin shape and staff were able to introduce the dolphins to us.
Once the feeding is over you have the option to head up the beach to the coffee shop, or check out the other activities in the area. Kayaks and paddleboats are available to rent at nearly every body of water in the area. If you are keen on self-powered boating then this is a great way to spend the afternoon. Prices were reasonable at the rental shops we checked out. Kayak rentals were $15-$20 AUD per hour.
After we finished checking out the beaches around Monkey Mia it was time to head back to shark bay. The beach at shark bay isn’t particularly large, but it is clean and the water is calm. The calmness of the water in the bay is quite beautiful, and a great place to sit and de-stress. We spent a couple days relaxing at shark bay and visiting the surrounding area. The whole area has a small-town feel which is a welcome change from daily life. From my perspective life is slower paced and the locals are friendlier than normal. Both of which helped create a great vacation.
Getting to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia wasn’t an easy task. However, it is one of the most memorable places I have visited in Australia. The chance to relax by the picturesque ocean and to see wild dolphins up close made the long drive worth it.