- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Unesco World Heritage
There are two things that explain my evaluation of Monkey Mia. The first is the fact that there is a hotel complex in such a wild and beautiful place. Accommodation is not too expensive (especially the campsite and youth hostel) but you have to pay for everything: the entrance to the complex costs 12 dollars, dishes in the hostel cost $2, etc. It is preferable to book accommodation in advance, especially in the high season. I went to the campsite because I was sleeping in my vehicle. The site is very basic and not very shady. What's more, you have to beware of the emus; even if at first it is fun to see them roaming freely, they will probably end up by annoying you as they go through your bags, dustbins, or anything that is lying about, in search of food.
People go to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins, but the show seems more like a circus act, which is the reason for my second gripe. Since the 1960s, the dolphins of Monkey Mia have got used to being fed by humans (only 1/3 of their daily needs are given to them, in order not to disturb their hunting instinct). I must confess that I was a little disappointed to see the three or four dolphins who come to the shore in the morning to entertain the horde of tourists. The latter wade into the water, with little respect for the animals. You have to elbow your way through the crowd to see the dolphins and to try to take a few photos, just like everyone else. The Rangers ask for volunteers to give a fish to the dolphins. It is forbidden to touch them because humans can transmit diseases to them. I had never seen dolphins so close. So I have to admit that it was a unique and unforgettable experience, but I had an unpleasant feeling of participating in a show. Later, I stayed alone on the beach for a while, gazing at the ocean. I saw dolphins playing along the coast and I also saw a turtle and pelicans. I definitely preferred that afternoon to what I had seen in the morning. The place is superb for watching wildlife; the waters are so rich that I did not even dare to go for a swim, for fear of disrupting the ecosystem.
If you stay at Monkey Mia for the day, I advise you to take the walking trail, which makes a loop of 1.5 km from the Dolphin Centre. It certainly has less tourist appeal than the dolphins, but it is very interesting to observe the local flora and fauna. The trail takes you into the bush a little and then returns to the beach. During my visit, I came across emus, processionary caterpillars, the corpse of a kangaroo, and then, on the beach, hermit crabs, cormorants, sea snails and small jellyfish: I was completely enthralled by the natural environment.
At Monkey Mia, I recommend a visit (at fixed times) to the pearl farm. The whole visit takes about an hour. The farm is located off the coast of Monkey Mia. You travel there by boat and if the skipper is in a playful mood, as he was with us, he will suggest you get into the nets at the rear of the boat (if you have your swimsuit). You'd better hold on when he opens the throttle and prepare yourself for a thorough natural massage. The pearl farm tour is very worthwhile; you'll see the people who work there, while the guide explains the whole process of the manufacture of cultured pearls. You can even buy them (at varying prices, depending on the quality).
If you love adventure travel and nature discovery, I strongly recommend the Shark Bay area. I was overwhelmed by the wealth and beauty of the nature, the variety of the animal life and the contrast between the red earth and the turquoise blue sea. Still, I think a day at Monkey Mia is largely sufficient - it is far too touristy for my taste. So enjoy the rest of your stay to see the other natural curiosities and less touristy sites, such as the unforgettable Shell Beach.