Byron Bay has a buzz about it that’s hard to explain unless you are there. The minute I arrived I wanted to extend our 2 day stay, but cancellation fees for other accommodation unfortunately put a stop to it – I will be back Byron!
But anyway, it’s beautiful and full of kind hearted easy going animal lovers. In my experience anyway.
I hadn’t heard of sea kayaking with dolphins before arriving in Australia, until a German guy we met in Cairns told us about it. He said it was one of the highlights of his travels and highly recommended doing it.
I didn’t need much more persuasion than that, just the idea that I could be in the vicinity of wild dolphins was enough for me!
A week or so later, when we got closer to Byron and finalised our plans, we booked a afternoon kayak with GoSeaKayak Byron Bay. At 69 AUD per person, just under £50, it seemed reasonable for a half day tour with 3 hours at sea.
A complimentary hostel pick up was included, and after a spin around Byron collecting the rest of the group, we were dropped at the centre to start the trip. Life jackets, hard hats and ores at the ready, we paired up and headed to the beach to grab our two man kayaks.
We had a brief safety demo on the beach, with some instructions on how to get out to see and over the waves – evidently if you were going to capsize it was either going out or coming back in to shore!
With the ‘brains at the front and braun at the back’ as the instructor would say, we made it out through the waves and were soon in the pacific ocean, bobbing along, and occasionally clumsily crashing into other kayaks – I hadn’t quite mastered breaking at this point.
We went about 1km out to sea and at first were just sitting in the ocean, waiting for something to happen.
Then a pod of 50 dolphins just crept up on us. Sounds impossible but literally that is what happened. The most amazing moment was when we turned towards a breaking wave, and through the centre of it, an adult bottle nose dolphin came flying through! I honestly thought it was going to land on someones kayak it was so close!
Then for the next 2 hours, we paddled around, whilst the dolphins played around us. They were so close it was a truly magical experience. You could tell how much they trusted the kayaks, as they even had calves with them, who were ambitiously backflipping in waves that eventually swallowed them up.
We always stayed together on the kayaks, so we were an obvious mass to the dolphins, and also so they could choose to swim with us or choose to leave. We never approached them or advanced in anyway that could disturb their behaviours, so their interactions with us were completely on their terms.
As the sun began to set, we made our way back to shore, and after watching 2 kayaks capsize, I was dubious if we would make it back dry. Scepticism aside we survived, and were dry, and even applauded on our beach entrance – not bad!
Overall it was a truly magical and memorable experience. I cant believe I didn’t know about it before, and had it not been for that chance meeting in Cairns, I may well have missed out on what was a highlight of our Australia trip.
GoSeaKayak were a great company to go with, and I admired their passion for the marine life and conservation. A truly ‘ethical animal experience’ I couldn’t recommend them more!