Monkey Mia Reserve is famous for its wild dolphin experience, attracting visitors from across the globe to watch, feed and learn more about these beautiful, intelligent mammals. Situated on the eastern shore of the Peron Peninsula, Monkey Mia is a tiny town 25 km from Denham, in the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
Sparkling white beaches and red sand dunes surround the waters of Monkey Mia which are teeming with marine life. Along with the dolphins, you might be lucky enough to see sharks, stingrays, dugongs, turtles, and an abundance of fish. There to greet visitors are often pelicans, emus, and the sweet Western grass wrens.
Take an epic road trip like no other along Western Australia’s stunning and diverse coastline. From Broome’s iconic Cable Beach, through the mining hubs of Port Hedland and Karratha to eco cruises on pristine Ningaloo Reef and Monkey Mia. From Kalbarri National Park to the mysterious Pinnacles and onto Perth and intriguing Rottnest Island. WA is filled with adventure, come and see...
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (a sub-species of the common bottlenose dolphin) have been visiting the shallow waters of Monkey Mia since the 1960s when local fishermen would share their catch with them close to shore. Trust between the dolphins and humans grew and more dolphins began appearing and were fed at the jetty and later at the beachfront.
In 1984, researchers arrived in Monkey Mia to study the dolphins. They discovered that the mortality rate among the calves of the dolphins who visited the beach was considerably higher than that of other dolphins in Shark Bay. Guidelines were developed to give the Monkey Mia dolphins and their young the best chance of survival.
Today, Parks and Wildlife Service manages the Monkey Mia dolphin encounter under strict supervision to ensure the dolphins continue to hunt for food and behave as they do in the wild. The dolphin encounters have grown to become one of the world’s great wildlife experiences, attracting over 100,000 visitors a year. Best of all, the mortality rate of calves has dramatically decreased.
You can read more about the lives of the dolphins of Monkey Mia at the Dolphins of Monkey Mia Research Foundation.
Meet the wild dolphins of Monkey Mia on one of our Western Australian holidays.
Visitors who take a Monkey Mia tour inevitably ask where the town got its interesting name. Some believe ‘Monkey’ refers to the pet monkeys belonging to Malaysian pearl farmers who lived and worked in the area in the 1850s. Others say ’Monkey’ was the name of a pearling vessel that worked the waters nearby. ‘Mia’ is a little more straightforward as it’s derived from the local Aboriginal word meaning ‘home.’
About 300 dolphins inhabit the waters of Monkey Mia with over 2,000 in the Shark Bay area. Only a group of five mature females are offered fish during their first three visits between 7:45 am and 12 noon, though many visit the beach at other times.
As well as dolphins, Monkey Mia is home to a diverse range of bird species, making it a birdwatcher's paradise. Water lovers can snorkel among the vibrant coral reefs, fish for local species, or take a kayak out on the calm waters to take in the stunning coastal scenery. Back on land, you can take a nature walk or hike to explore coastal dunes, bush trails, and lookouts with sweeping views of the surrounding area.
If you enjoy learning about local culture, check out the guided tours on the region's Indigenous culture and gain insights into the traditions, history, and connection to the land through storytelling, art, and music.
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