With crystal-clear water and offshore islands, boat trips are one of the best activities in Mauritius. The temperate Indian Ocean that surrounds the island attracts an array of sea life – from colorful tropical fish to dolphins and whales. With numerous available tours, it can be difficult to choose which one to take. After careful consideration, we opted for a full-day excursion that featured the unique experience of swimming with dolphins in Mauritius.
Mauritius Cruise: Swimming with Wild Dolphins, Snorkeling, BBQ Lunch
Before we started researching tours, we were mostly interested in simply seeing wild dolphins in Mauritius. At first, we considered just taking a bus from Flic en Flac Beach down to Tamarin, Mauritius where dolphins are often spotted early in the morning.
However, when we discovered that tours offer the chance to swim with dolphins in Mauritius, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
We joined a popular Mauritius tour that included swimming with dolphins, snorkeling on the Outer Reef, seeing the famous Crystal Rock and feasting on an island BBQ lunch. Find out more about booking this tour!
Pods of dolphins – both Bottleneck and Spinner – are often spotted on the west coast of the island in the area around Black River, Mauritius. The Black River District – or Riviere Noire – extends from the capital city of Port Louis in the north to the Le Morne peninsula in the south.
Dolphin Watching Mauritius: Where and When
Tamarin Bay, Mauritius is often frequented by pods of dolphins. The best time to see dolphins in Mauritius is early in the morning. After spending the night in the deep sea in search of food, the dolphins return to the shore to rest and play.
Dolphin Tour Mauritius: Our Experience and Review
Before embarking on our sea journey, we were slightly skeptical of the day’s events. Was our tour really a chance encounter with dolphins? Would we really swim with them? And, was it worth booking a full day tour with more snorkeling and lunch? Keep reading to find out how our day went – or book this tour now!
Tamarin Bay: Swimming With Dolphins Mauritius
Our boat trip departed from Flic en Flac Beach, where we happened to be staying. From the beach, it’s just a short trip to Tamarin Bay. When we arrived, we were slightly dismayed to see about 15 other boats already there; surely the dolphins would be scared off by all the commotion of boats. Snorkelers were already bobbing in the water and everyone was wide-eyed scanning the surface for dolphin fins.
When a pod of dolphins surfaced, it was a mad dash – as all the boats and swimmers angled toward them. When the dolphins disappeared into deeper water, everything came to a halt again. Only a certain number of swimmers are allowed in the water at one time – so as one of the last boats to arrive, we had to wait our turn. We watched the somewhat baffling scene from the boat for about a half hour – savoring the few moments when we were lucky enough to have the dolphins surface right next to our boat.
Mauritius Dolphin Encounter
Once it was our turn to jump into the water, we were given clear instructions on what we were allowed – and not allowed – to do. Then, the captain positioned us where he thought the pod would swim and gave the command: Go! Now! Jump! Swim! In all the excitement, I ended up flailing around with a mouth full of seawater.
Rather than frantically racing after the too-quick-for-me mammals, I opted for a more relaxed approach. I simply floated in the water near our boat looking down through the mask, which was much more pleasant than trying to keep up with the dolphins.
As luck would have it, the pod of dolphins swam in deep water right below our boat. I watched them playfully swim and spin – and then circle back even closer, checking me out as they gracefully zipped through the water.
Leaving Tamarin Bay, we motored to the Outer Reef in search of a secluded snorkeling spot. Being away from the crowds, we enjoyed a relaxing swim. Large, protruding reefs provided both shelter and feeding grounds to an abundance of exotic tropical fish.
We saw a variety of trumpet fish; some long and skinny with needle-like stingers and others that were thicker with propeller-like fins. An entire family of small squid – highlighted in bright neon colors – floated right by us. A school of black fish swam so tightly together they looked like a massive shadow moving in rhythm with the current.
As we swam closer to the reef, we could see the fish being pulled and pushed with the strong, crashing waves. It was a cloudy morning, but when the sun broke through, the reef lit up in a rainbow of colors.
Before heading to the sandy shores of Benitiers Island, we made a second snorkel stop at the famous Crystal Rock. The exposed coral head sits alone in the vast sea – and is one of the most iconic sights in Mauritius. Snorkeling at Crystal Coral Rock proved to be less impressive than our first stop – with only a few fish feeding and several eels hiding in the shadows – but worth it, nonetheless.
Benitiers Island Beach lunch
Benitiers Island – or Ile aux Benitiers – is a relatively flat island along the south-western coast of Mauritius. A popular stop for boat tours, we were not the only visitors. Tented picnic tables were set up along the shore and boats were anchored in the shallow sandbar.
From our boat, coolers of food were brought ashore and our captain became our chef. He grilled up tuna, chicken, sausage, rice, garlic bread and even banana flambe. The drink choices were just as plentiful (and free flowing!) with options of Mauritius Coffee (which is local rum and Coke), locally brewed Phoenix beer and wine.
Swimming With Dolphins Experience: Is it OK?
Before we set off on our adventure, two questions kept coming to mind. First, is it safe to swim with wild dolphins? And, second, is swimming with dolphins cruel or unethical?
We never felt unsafe on our Mauritius dolphin cruise. While swimming with the dolphins in Tamarin Bay, we noted that all the boat captains kept a close watch on the swimmers – ensuring they were following the rules and not in need of assistance.
Honestly, we were slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of boats in the bay – and a little taken aback by how some swimmers so aggressively chased after the dolphins (not that they ever had a chance of catching up!). In hindsight, we wonder if a private Mauritius dolphin trip (where we could have set the time to be one of the first boats to arrive in the bay) would have been worth the extra money. Learn more about booking a private trip!
While we can not be sure if our presence in any way threatened the dolphins, they seemed to be more playful than afraid. And, although they are wild and free to roam the sea, the pod kept circling back to the swimmers and boats – spinning and twirling as they swam.
Want more Mauritius tips?! Check out our list of the Most Amazing Things To Do in Mauritius!
More Mauritius Excursions
Mauritius dolphin excursions are not the only boat trips on the island. Visitors have many choices when it comes to setting sail into the Indian Ocean!
Whale Watching Mauritius
Both Humpback and Sperm Whales live in the water surrounding Mauritius. Join a boat excursion that seeks out whales in Mauritius – and gets close enough to see these massive creatures (but not too close!). Find out more!
Top Tip: Go on a combined trip! Go swimming with the dolphins in Mauritius, then head further out for Whale Watching. Get the Details!!
Set sail on a catamaran journey to nearby islands and enjoy a full-day adventure. Check out this highly-rated tour to Ile aux Cerfs by catamaran!
Search for turtles and discover shipwrecks while scuba diving in Mauritius! Even beginners can experience the underwater world with formal instruction and two dives. Book your spot!
Top Tip: Experienced divers can skip the class and go straight out to sea! Book it now!
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