Swimming with dolphins and cetacean watching in La ReunionCategories Activities, Bathing, La Reunion
Organise a day with dolphins in La Reunion
You want have dolphins watching? What a better place than Reunion Island to observe dolphins in their natural habitat?
So, after we booked 1 month earlier, we join Manu, the Duocéan instructor. Meeting point is on the Saint-Gilles port parking at 7am, for a 3H expedition in the Indian Ocean.
He provides us with the required material for a snorkeling trip with the Indian Ocean dolphins. A floating diving suit, anti-fog diving mask, fins and snorkel, the perfect little diver kit!
The whales and dolphins watching charter for a minor impact on the environment
We just wait for the 3 other couples who will share this unforgettable moment with us. Once all passengers ready and before taking place in the boat, Manu briefs us on the good behavior to have when observing dolphins.
There is a charter to respect scrupulously when diving with dolphins or whales. Indeed, we must be as discreet as possible when we evolve in a natural environment among wild animals to impact as little as possible their lifestyle.
It is also by respecting the rules that we can continue to observe these majestic mammals in the ocean for the next few years. A true eco-tourism approach that, we hope, will show results.
After some advice from Manu, we are about to board on the “Bato Péï” (which means “local boat” in creole). This boat will take us into the sea and has already over 20 years experience in whale watching in Reunion Island. It is a 9m long semi-rigid boat, with two 150hp engines.
We leave the Saint-Gilles port and Josiah, our skipper, leads us to our encounter of the 3rd kind with dolphins. It is never 100% sure to meet these sea inhabitants. But with over 400 dolphins identified around Reunion Island, there is still a good chance to see their fins!
Remember that during the austral winter, from June to October humpback whales pass by La Reunion. Duocéan also offers specific excursion to try to observe these sea giants.
Duocéan, a great approach for dolphins watching
Excited like children, we all observe the surface. Looking for the slightest ripple that may be a sign of dolphins.
We do not have to wait for a long time. After 10 short minutes, our instructor spotted a group of dolphins nearby! The excitement is palpable in the boat. I think that when you’re getting close to these animals, even the most austere person in the world finds his inner child!
Smiles and stars are appearing in our eyes as we see the dolphins’ caudal fins. Our skipper reduces the boat speed to approach the cetacean group to minimize the inconvenience we might cause.
And then the magic happens! A group of fifteen dolphins surrounds the boat and starts playing in the waves we create.
They are racing with our boat. Going right, going left, overpassing us, splitting the water, a real choreography right in front of our eyes!
Swimming with dolphins, a mystic experience
Manu therefore plans our swim with the group who accompanies us. Then, the boat stops and this is where the name of the company Duocéan makes sense.
Indeed, they have developed a cetacean approach technique in pair. The instructor goes 1st in the water to evaluate the conditions (visibility, current, animal behavior, etc …) and decides if the group should or should not get into the water. Meanwhile, the skipper stays as a sentinel on the boat. They are in constant contact to maximize encounters with cetaceans and security.
So, Manu gets into water and gives its Go so we could join him. We calmly penetrate into the Ocean and as soon as our head goes underwater, we hear the sweet dolphins’ song. It’s like in the movie, the Big Blue!
After hearing them, a 1st group passes really close, a true magical moment! We follow scrupulously the instructions given before we boarded on the boat to minimize the impact of our presence and enjoy whole heartedly this moment. This is a group of “stenellas”. The most present species in the area, looking for their breakfast. This dolphins watching moment is great.
Diving with dolphins is truly an experience to do at least once in a lifetime. The feeling you have when you’re swimming in the middle of the Indian Ocean with fifteen dolphins is really hard to describe, but it’s a real daydream!
After diving, speed boating the way back
After 15 min, dolphins are gradually moving away and Manu invites us to go back on boat. We follow the dolphins for a few minutes before letting them enjoy their day.
After that, the crew offers us a small drink, a local punch for the bravest. Or just a little fruit juice, because don’t forget, it’s only 10 in the morning! After this little break, it’s time to go back. We’re going back to the Saint-Gilles port, but not without taking one last thrill.
The Bato Péï can reach more than 40 knots (about 75km/h) top speed!
The skipper takes advantage of its powerful engines to offer us a small “speedboat” session on the way back. Full throttle, sharp turns, it clings we hang on to the ropes as the boat is shaking hard, but what a good thrill! Between dolphins and strong sensations, the morning is really loaded with emotions!
So, back to the dock, stars in our eyes, we make the promise that this 1st dolphin watching session in Reunion Island won’t be the last!
Practical information for dolphins watching
2 different tours on 2 different ships for dolphins watching, with exclusive video and pictures included.
- The 55€ tour on Bato Péï, a large Zodiac very suitable for the activity with drinks on board during the trip. The excursion is led by Captain Josias who has a 20 years experience on finding dolphins and whales.
- If Bato Péï is not available, the tour can be organized on a dive boat, more suitable for “divers”. In this case the price is 45€ per person.
V.I.P trips for 1, 2 3 4 or 5 people can be organized on request (always supervised by 2 professionals).
Bookings with Duocean are made exclusively by text messages or phone: +2626184.108.40.206 (Manu)
Note: Tell the participants names and the date by text message for registration.
MANDATORY confirmation the day before!
Otherwise, your seat may be given to the person on the waiting list! (If you have not received a confirmation SMS, you may not be registered). The meeting takes place in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains because of the proximity of the animals. Following the seasons, and hours of animals’ presence, one or two daily trips are made:
- Appointments are set mostly at 7:00 in the morning for a return at around 10H45-11H.
- Another output can be organized during the whales’ season.
The appointment is fixed at the port of Saint-Gilles-les-Bains. Next to the aquarium, at the end of the covered walkway with the white roof. Look for the white Duocéan van on the parking lot.
Others ideas for good activities in Reunion Island!
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