This is the tour that promises you wildlife or your money back!
Shark Bay is so pristine and special it has been included on the World Heritage List. It has unusual natural beauty and its shallow waters abound with marine life. Late in the 19th century, the area was settled by Europeans as a pearling station, but an unreliable fresh water supply caused its demise.
Its meadows of sea grasses are home to dugongs, manta rays, turtles, whales, tiger sharks and, possibly its most popular residents bottlenose dolphins. There are also good numbers of herbivorous green turtles. They are more prevalent than their carnivorous cousins. There is also marine life such as corals and sponges.
In 1964, a woman from a fishing camp close to Monkey Mia befriended the bottlenose dolphins, and now generations of them trust and enjoy interacting with humans.
The pod of about 300, living safely in Shark Bay, attracts scientists from all over the world to observe the way they live, their habits and their reactions to other sea creatures and humans.
Rangers give people brochures with clear instructions on how to behave around the animals, and they must be strictly adhered to. Visitors are not allowed to swim with the dolphins.
It is up to the dolphins as to when, and even if, they come in to visit. Mostly they like to come early in the morning. Sometimes they arrive in the afternoon and sometimes they just decide not to turn up. When they have had enough, they head out to sea until their next visit.
Rangers feed them small fish but not at regular times. Regular feeding times could rob the dolphin of their natural hunting and fishing abilities. They are constantly monitored and the rangers are adamant that their charges which they know by name are comfortable in the presence of humans.
There is also a colony of about 10,000 dugongs and it is the most secure place on earth for them. They live to be about 70 and gently graze on the bay's soft, delicate sea grasses. The large grey mammals would probably never win a beauty contest, but they have a majestic aura and are very much crowd-pleasers. They are slow-moving and quite defenceless, but their sheer size is protection enough from most predators.
In the Hamelin Pool are stromatolites, evidence of the beginnings of life on earth. There are just two places where they can be found, and while those in the Hamelin Pool are only about 2000-3000 years old, the organisms which built them were the earliest forms of life, dating back 3.5 million years.
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is 24 km from Denham, with sealed road to the door. The resort, which overlooks Dolphin Beach, is north-facing and sheltered. Apart from offering a wonderful white, sandy beach, it has a naturally heated Artesian hot tub, freshwater pool, tennis courts and volleyball and offers lots of opportunities to fish and sail.
The Bough Shed Restaurant overlooks the beach and is open for all meals. If the weather should turn a little cool, a fire is lit for comfort. The Peron Cafe is open each day for casual and take-away food and drink. The market, boutique and guest laundry pretty well cover holidaymakers' needs.
Many guests can't resist a romantic candle-lit dinner at a secluded spot somewhere along the many kilometres of beach.
A wonderful way to be face to face with the dolphins is aboard the catamaran Shotover. The 18 x 9 metre craft was built as an ocean racer which means she's fast, but she also knows how to cruise at a leisurely, relaxing pace.
Blue Lagoon Pearls has a boat tour to a pearling pontoon in the middle of the bay. It is the biggest of its kind in Western Australia and they specialise in growing magnificent black pearls. Depending on the time of year, visitors can see the seeding process or the harvest taking place. They can also take part and do a bit themselves.
Shark Bay, 1300 kilometres north of Perth
Monkey Mia Resort offers camping from $8.50 per night; three-berth caravans from $40; canvas condos which sleep up to three from $82 and motel-style villas which sleep up to four from $163.
The Shotover Dugong Cruise costs $49 per person.
Blue Lagoon Pearls tours cost $22 for adults and $11 for children. They operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort
Box 119 PO Denham 6537
Ph: 1800 653 611 (08) 9948 1320
Administration: (08) 9385 3511
Fax: (08) 9948 firstname.lastname@example.org
Monkey Mia Wildlife Sailing
Ph: (08) 9948 1481
Fax: (08) 9948 email@example.com
Blue Lagoon Pearls
Box 437 PO Denham 6537
Ph: (08) 9948 1325 Fax: (08) 9948 1411