Dolphin Watching Cruise in Port Stephens
Port Stephens is full of contrasts. One minute you’re looking at shining blue bays, the next, you’re facing into the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. These contrasts lead to a huge diversity of things to do when visiting the area. I wrote about my experience riding camels in my last post, this post is about another famous Port Stephens native animal, and if you hadn’t already guessed, it’s the bottlenose dolphin! If you’re visiting, you MUST do a Port Stephens dolphin watching cruise!
There are approximately 150 bottlenose dolphins that call Port Stephens home, so of course, this makes them a popular attraction to see with tourists (one of the most popular places in the world actually). There are a lot of different dolphin watching tours (and whales during the right season) that offer over a 99% success rate of seeing dolphins. Our captain said he has never not seen one in all the years he had been running the tours.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of different dolphin watching companies all of which offer packages with other activities in the area. We ended up booking a 1.5 hour Dolphin watch tour with Moonshadow and 4WD + Sandboarding experience for the grand total of $47.50. I would’ve paid that for the dolphin tour alone!
Moonshadow Dolphin Watch Tour
We set out from Port Nelson marina aboard the MV Surprise. We wandered around for a good 15-20 minutes without seeing a single dolphin. I was standing against the rail peering out as far as I could, praying we weren’t the .1% that wouldn’t see any. But then, sure enough, someone spotted a lone fin surfacing way off in the distance!
Our boat made a beeline for the dolphins, making sure to stay a safe distance away. Disappointingly, there were only 2 and they quickly swam off. Surely this isn’t what everyone was raving about?
Luckily that wasn’t the case. We made our way a little closer to the shore, and then hit the jackpot!
I didn’t know where to focus my camera there were so many of them! And they came right up to the boat, playing in the spray. I loved being able to see them so close up in their natural setting.
The Port Stephens dolphins really are one of a kind. They are genetically distinct from any other bottlenose dolphins. They refuse to breed with any other dolphins outside the Port Stephens pod, even though there are some only 20 km away. Dolphins are able to travel over 100 km a day, yet these rarely ever leave Port Stephens bay.
If you’re going to Port Stephens, a dolphin tour really is a must. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see them, and they are beautiful animals to see in their natural habitat.
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