An exhilarating wildlife encounter that will stay with you forever
Rockingham Wild Encounters can make your dolphin dream come true! Located just 45 minutes south of Perth, Western Australia. Rockingham Wild Encounters has been operating the multi award winning Swim with Wild Dolphins Cruise since 1989. There are over 200 local bottlenose dolphins that live amongst the sheltered waters of Rockingham’s bays & islands that we’ve come to know as friends. They don’t perform tricks and we don’t feed them, we simply spend some time enjoying each other’s company!
Your day with the dolphins
The Adventure begins with boarding our boat in Rockingham where our friendly crew will fit you out with a wetsuit, mask and snorkel. After an introductory briefing from the skipper, we depart the jetty and the search for wild dolphins commences!
It usually takes between 20 to 60 minutes to locate the first group of dolphins. During the search, your guides conduct snorkelling lessons and ensure you’re prepared for the amazing experience to come!
Once the skipper locates some dolphins, it’s time to zip up your wetsuit, put your mask and snorkel on and head down to the swim deck where your guide will be waiting to accompany you into the water. We enter the water in small groups of up to 7 people. Each group is led by a guide using an aqua scooter to tow your group right amongst the dolphins!
This is the easiest snorkelling you will ever do, simply float, put your face down and enjoy the dolphin show going off below! Underneath will be our lead guide riding solo on an aqua scooter who will be playfully looping and spinning the dolphins within inches of where you’re peacefully floating at the surface.
Interacting with these fascinating animals in their natural environment is exhilarating and we are dedicated to providing the best experience for both dolphins and our guests. They are intelligent, social creatures and most days it’s clear they’re having as much fun as us! We may also have the privilege of observing some fascinating natural behaviours along the way such as hunting, mating and even sleeping! We ask you to please remember that we’re visiting wild animals and that we can’t control the dolphin’s natural behaviours or appearance. In the unlikely event that you don’t get to swim with the dolphins, we offer you the opportunity to come again free of charge (conditions apply*).
- Return coach transfers from Perth (optional).
- 3 to 6 hour Swim with with Wild Dolphins Cruise.
- Full length wetsuits, mask and snorkel.
- Bottomless coffee, tea, hot chocolate & fresh water.
- Light lunch and fruit platter served on board.
- Free photos of your experience to download and share.
Costs & Times
(Available September 1st, 2018 to June 5th, 2019)
$205 per person if you meet the boat in Rockingham at 8am. Cruise returns between 11.30am to 2.30pm.
$215 per person departing the Wellington St Tourist Coach Stand at 7am. Coach returns between 12.30pm to 3.30pm
$225 per person departing Perth CBD & Crown Burswood Hotels (6.30am to 6.50am). Coach returns between 12.30pm to 3.30pm.
Frequently asked Questions
Where do I meet the boat in Rockingham?
At the Cruising Yacht Club Jetty in Rockingham located on the corner of Val St and The Esplanade. Allow 45 minutes to drive from Perth or Fremantle. There is free street parking on Val St. Please be at the boat by 8.00am sharp. Return time is normally between 11.30am and 2.30pm depending upon dolphin sighting and behaviours.
Where does the coach from Perth depart from?
From The Tourist Coach Stand on Wellington Street located just outside of the entrance to the Perth Train Station (on the right hand side as you walk out of the entrance). Please meet outside of the glass building.
Where do I meet the coach if I’m getting picked up from my hotel?
Please wait inside the hotel lobby and wait for our driver to collect you. For Burswood Crown, pickups are at 6.30am sharp. For Perth CBD hotels please be waiting from 6.40am. Pickups will be between 6.40 and 7am depending on the days requirements.
Is this cruise suitable for me?
You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to join in and no previous snorkelling experience is required (although it is helpful)! Our professional and friendly crew conducts introductory snorkelling lessons and have an excellent track record of helping nervous or less experienced swimmers through the experience.
I’d like to bring a friend who just wants to watch from the boat, does it cost the same price?
Our cruise really is designed for swimmers and seats are limited so only 8 to 12 seats a day are available for spectators depending on the time of year. If you're nervous about swimming or are a first time snorkeler, our cruise is ideal for you so we urge you to consider swimming! For families with young children (under 12 years), the kids are welcome to watch from the boat but please be aware staff are not available to supervise them while you're swimming and they can't be left unattended. You must have a second swimmer in your group so you can take turns watching the child throughout the swim.
Please select from our spectator options below:
- Spectator (meeting the boat in Rockingham
- Spectator (including Perth coach transfer)
- Spectator (including Hotel Pick Up)
What age do you need to be?
Swim with Wild Dolphins is not recommended for children 6 years or younger. We recommend this age limit because the child needs to be able to follow instructions. This is critical for safety and to ensure the child does not behave in such a way that may disrupt the experience for others. If you are going to take the plunge with your child, we recommend that you spend some time getting your children comfortable with a mask and snorkel prior. Wearing buoyancy aid devices are not recommended. They are designed to keep your child’s head above the water which is no good for enjoying the show as all the action takes place beneath the surface. We have wetsuits in small sizes for children that will help with their buoyancy- if you feel your child needs to wear a buoyancy aid then this cruise is definitely not suitable for them. Please be aware that it is the parent’s responsibility to supervise their children during the cruise. We don’t have staff available to supervise children while you are in the water. On previous cruises, parents have shared supervision responsibilities by swimming at different times to ensure one parent is always available to supervise the child- we will not allow children to be left onboard the vessel unsupervised.
I’m a nervous swimmer- can I still join the cruise?
Definitely- it’s the easiest snorkelling cruise you’ll ever go on! You will be wearing a 4mm, full length wetsuit which not only keeps you warm but very buoyant as well. You will be accompanied by a guide driving an aqua scooter (a yellow battery powered device with a propeller that takes all the hard work out of swimming). All you do is grab hold of the guide’s belt and they will use the scooter to tow you around in the water right amongst the action! We always keep you at the surface and allow the dolphins to come to us so you don’t need to worry about holding your breath or swimming below the surface.
Our top tip for nervous swimmers is to make sure that your guide is aware that you are not confident. We are skilled at reading peoples body language but some people are very good at covering up their anxiousness for fear of ‘looking silly’. If you tell us we can make sure that you are placed right behind the guide and that we do the extra preparation prior to entering the water to ensure you have the best experience possible.
For those who don’t want to enter the water, consider our spectator option or our 90 minute Dolphin, Penguin & Sea Lion Adventure Cruise that takes visitors out to watch the dolphins before concluding on Penguin Island in time for the penguin feeding. It’s perfect for families and those who would prefer to enjoy the dolphins from the comfort of the boat.
What to Wear
You must wear your bathing suit underneath our wetsuits. Bring a towel and change of clothes for after the dolphin swim (a warm weather proof jacket is a good idea). Comfortable shoes, thongs or sandals are appropriate footwear. There are storage crates underneath your seats on the boat for keeping all your bags and clothes dry.
What to Bring
Cameras for your personal use are welcome. Any photography for commercial purposes requires prior approval. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice. Our crew film every dolphin swim experience from below using GoPro cameras and also take images from above. We select the best of these images and upload them to our FLIKR page straight after the cruise. If you leave us with your email address we will send you the link to these images which you’re welcome to download or share free of charge. You’re also welcome to bring extra snacks and drinks.
Checking in and Waiver of Liability
Passengers will need to show their booking confirmation or travel agent voucher onboard the boat and sign a waiver of liability prior to boarding.
What if the weather is bad?
Cruises are subject to weather. When you book your cruise it is important that you leave us with a contact number for where you are staying in Perth (preferably a mobile that you will be carrying on the day of your tour). If we cancel due to weather, we will contact you to see if you can reschedule for another date. There is no charge to you if we have to cancel due to weather.
How to Prevent Sea Sickness
Due to the open and stable nature of our boat, few passengers get sea sick, however everyone’s susceptibility is different. If you suspect sea sickness will be an issue for you we recommend the following:
- Purchase some Travel Calm tablets onboard the boat.
- Select a seat in the back third of the boat where there is less movement.
- Keep your body temperature on the cooler side.
- If you wear glasses keep the lenses clean at all times.
- Avoid looking through cameras or binoculars.
- Stay away from acidic foods before the cruise such as orange juice and coffee.
- Avoid going into the toilet to be sick. Confined spaces will only make you feel worse.
- If you start to feel sick, let our crew know so we can assist.
Do you ever not see or swim with the dolphins?
Although we have over 25 years’ experience with working with the local dolphins, they don’t always follow the script! We are very lucky in that the dolphins we visit are territorial so they are very consistent and it is highly unusual for us not to find a group that will interact with us. Part of the reason why we don’t set a scheduled finish time for the cruise is to ensure plenty of time to stay on the water and keep searching if necessary. Our commitment is to provide the best possible experience subject to the weather conditions and viewing opportunities on the day without compromising the safety of our passengers or the wildlife. In the unlikely event that we don’t see or swim with any dolphins during your cruise, you’re welcome to come again free of charge. Please understand that if you’re unable to join us again this does not make you eligible for a refund and you cannot pass your seats onto another person. The offer is also subject to the availability of spare seats.
Can we touch the dolphins & how close will they come?
They come incredibly close, we’ll have them doing loops and spins within inches of you at times. To ensure that we do not harm the dolphins in anyway by transmitting skin diseases or damaging their protective skin layer we adhere to a strict ‘no touch policy’.
Can we feed the dolphins?
Definitely not! It’s terrible for their health and would ruin the unique friendship we have with them which is based on a mutual curiosity and enjoyment of one another’s company, rather than food. Feeding wild dolphins (and most other species of wild animals) results in an increased mortality rate and decrease in reproductive success.
Are we likely to see any sharks?
The chances of a shark encounter are very low, however, when you work in the ocean as often as we do there is unfortunately always a risk. To ensure the safest possible environment for our passengers and crew we use Shark Shields which generate an electric field that produces intolerable discomfort to the sharks sensory receptors known as Ampullae of Lorenzi (found on the snouts of all predatory sharks) forcing them to veer away and leave the immediate area.
Will we see any other marine wildlife?
Some days, it depends on what the dolphins are up to. When the dolphins are hunting you might see them chasing octopus, squid, local species of baitfish or tossing catfish through the air. We quite often see them hunting on the back of big stingrays and occasionally one of the local sea lions will join in on the fun.
What’s the water temperature like?
It varies throughout the year between 18 in September through to 25 degrees Celsius during the summer and autumn months. We have nice thick wetsuits and hoods to keep you warm.
What are the minimum passenger numbers required for the Swim with Wild Dolphins cruise to operate?
A minimum of 10 passengers is required for the cruise to go ahead. Most days this is easily achieved, however, occasionally we do have quiet times and our reservations team may contact you within a few days of the date of your booking to assist with rescheduling to another date that will definitely be operating.
WHY CHOOSE ROCKINGHAM WILD ENCOUNTERS?
- Our longstanding friendship with the dolphins is built on trust and mutual curiosity, not food! RWE founder Terry Howson believed that the dolphins should never be offered food as an incentive to ensure natural behaviours were not compromised. Read more about how he established the friendship with the dolphins here.
- Wild dolphin guarantee. If you don’t see dolphins on your cruise, come again free! See Cancellations & Conditions for full details.
- Only one cruise per day and we don’t set a scheduled finish time. So there’s no hurry to get back to the jetty. We’re working with wild animals who don’t always follow the schedule so, if we need to stay out a bit longer to deliver a quality experience then that’s what we do.
- We’re only 45 minutes south of Perth so getting here is easy! You can even catch our coach from Perth or we’ll pick you up from any Perth or Burswood Crown hotel.
- Our modern and comfortable boat. It was purpose built for dolphin swimming and yes it has hot showers on board!
- Anyone can do it! You don’t need to be a strong swimmer or experienced snorkeler. Our expert guides will be right there with you and use underwater aqua scooters to tow you right amongst the action.