Travelling with a baby
My first encounter with wild dolphins when diving was in Kenya, few kilometres away Kenyan Coast at Shimoni. Sheer magic and excitement, difficult to put into words; and ever since I’m always at the look out for best places to swim with wild dolphins.
10 years ago Shimoni was totally undeveloped and authentic and what was bad infrastructure wise was totally compensated by the warmth and curiosity of the locals.
Diving equipment and boat were also basic but safe and Kisite Marine Park was a treat in terms of reef colours, 250 fish species, 70 resident dolphins, sea turtles and occassionally whales. We spent 5 wonderful nights with Diani Reef and Spa – the trip to Shimoni would take an just over an hour.
Nothing prepared me for the magical moment at the end of my dive me on the way up equalising when a dolphin mum and her baby hanged out with me for 5 minutes – curious, playful and just out of this world.
Closer to Europe, The Red Sea is a snorkeler and diver paradise. Egypt is a wonderful eclectic mix for any explorer, history, Cairo pyramids, cruise on Nile, Karnak and Luxor temples and just superb sealife by the sea.
We dove in Hurghada even in February, 8mm suits and amazing underwater colours to keep me distracted from the water which was barely 18C degrees. Dolphins joined on 2 occasions our fishing and diving boat and we would be all elated and ecstatic – they are a good omen and loved by locals.
Still Red Sea but neighbouring shores, Eilat offers snorkelling and diving with dolphins at Eilat dolphin reef. No dolphin shows (as a diver and animal lover) I seriously question zoos and aquariums – but gentle spontaneous interactions.
We dove with Eilat dolphins and loved it; not much experience is required given that the depths is relatively shallow.
This is one of the best places to swim with wild dolphins or simply interract for disabled and autistic kids; and Eilat dolphin reef the track record is great in terms of long term effects and rehabilitation.
For warmer temperatures and still a splash or spotting the dolphins in the wild, the Caribbeans are a good place and amidst our favourites are the Grenadines.
We’ve been to St Vincent 2 years ago, with a 2 years old and me 5 months pregnant – snorkelling opportunities by Buccament beach and sunset cruises with dolphins coming by were such a treat.
But by far my favourite place to swim with wild dolphins is Kangaroo island, Australia. Remote and wild, a 30 minutes flight from Adelaide, Kangaroo island is paradise for wildlife lovers. I spent 2 weeks volunteering at Hanson Bay and aside my crush with the kangaroos, the swim with the wild dolphins was the most magic encounter.
4 months pregnant at the time with my first but the swim and snorkel over an hour compared to nothing – pure joy, playfulness and delight. The dolphins hanged out with us almost 2 hours and I counted over 100 – babies and mums included.
Relatively close geographically to Australia was Fiji. We ventured on a day out sailing Fijian watermelon perfumed and crystal clear waters. Colours and fragrances aside, we also had dolphins joining us for the ride.
Last but not least, the wonderful Indian Ocean. Maldives are any divers paradise and on few of our trips we spotted dolphins playing along our boats.
We were so excited to be back to Maldives December 2017 including for a collaboration with Banyan Tree Angsana Velavaru.
In terms of wildlife Angsana specialises in turtle and marine life conservation, has extensive diving facilities and great childcare so that the parents could hopefully go on diving trips and dolphins sunset cruises.
Happy playful swimming all!