There is a reason why the island of Mauritius is described as a travel lover’s paradise – starting from stellar beaches to underground waterfalls to age-old colonial-era monuments to crystal clear waters for as far as you can see, Mauritius is no less than a tropical haven. An island brimming with scenic beauty, Mauritius has everything you could need to make your trip to the island a memorable one.
The island is particularly very enticing to adrenaline junkies and adventure sports enthusiasts because of the sheer variety of activities that you can do while on Mauritius are mind-blowing. Starting from the standard deep sea diving to scuba diving, snorkelling, wave boarding and glass bottom boat riding, the number of things you can do while on a trip to Mauritius are innumerable and rest assured, you will not have even one dull day on the island if you can plan your trip well. One such activity on the island that is extremely famous among tourists of all ages is dolphin and whale watching. Being an island situated right in the middle of the ocean with a lagoon and coral reefs surrounding it, it is needless to say that the marine biodiversity is mesmerising.
Dolphins and Whales in Mauritius
The convenient location of Mauritius ensures that there are plenty of dolphins that live in the waters surrounding the lagoon, just near the bay. Over the years, groups of dolphins have been spotted mostly off the western coast of Mauritius, with the clarity of the water on that west coast of the island providing clearer visibility than anywhere else. Most dolphins are spotted in the early hours of the morning, though the chances of spotting them during the day are fairly average as well. The most common dolphins that you can see in Mauritius are the Spinner Dolphin and the Bottlenose Dolphin.
When it comes to whales, you need to go further out into the ocean to spot them, and whether or not you will be able to spot a whale depends entirely on the sea and weather conditions, so if the seas are rough, you probably won’t be able to see whales, and you’ll just have to come back another day. If you do end up spotting a whale though, the very sight of it is magnificence personified, and it is a memory you will carry with you for a long time to come. The most common whales spotted in the waters around Mauritius include the Sperm whale, the Dwarf Sperm whale, and Gray’s Beaked whale.
Types of Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours
There are different options you can pick from to go on a dolphin and whale watching tour, with the standard options being:
Approx Cost: INR 2500-3000 for adults; INR 1000-1500 for children
Trips via speedboats that take you to see the typical locations where dolphins and whales are generally spotted tend to the most preferred method for tourists. You can pick between shared speedboats, or you can even book an entire speedboat for yourself, depending on your convenience, and as per the policies of the tour operators you book the packages with. Regardless of whether you go on a shared boat or book one for yourself, you will be accompanied by trained guides who will brief you about the dolphins and whales you will see and will supervise you if you want to take a dip into the water to swim alongside the dolphins. Specific speedboat trips include snorkelling and scuba diving as part of their package as well, but that depends on the trip operating agency.
Approx Cost: INR 4500 for adults; INR 3200 for children
The second-most preferred way of dolphin and whale watching is via catamaran trips that take you to the west coast of the island, where the probability of spotting these mammals is the highest. If you don’t mind splurging a little to get a better overall experience, then the catamaran trip is the way to go. You can pick between full-day or half-day packages, with some operators also offering morning-only packages. Generally, all catamaran trips can be booked directly via the hotel you’re staying at, so that is an added benefit. Overnight catamaran trips are a big hit, with a lot of tourists choosing to spend the night on the catamaran and wake up to the call of the dolphins as they play near the stable catamaran. While it is a bit on the pricier side, if you choose to book a catamaran trip for dolphin and whale watching, you will be subjected to a world-class experience that will include onboard meals, entertainment in the form of local songs and dances, as well as open bars for the adults.
Approx Cost: INR 40000-50000
If you want, you can hire a chartered boat for a dolphin/whale watching expedition, with the packages for these expeditions generally being full-day packages which include other activities such as snorkelling scuba diving and visiting some of the other nearby islets around Mauritius. Out of all the options you can pick from, the chartered boats are the most expensive, but the majestic experience is entirely worth it.
Inclusions for Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours
Regardless of whether you book a morning-only, half-day, or a full-day package, on a speedboat or a catamaran, you will be served a delicious Mauritian breakfast upon boarding, with options for tea/coffee, as well as biscuits and fruits. After the meal is done, your guides will thoroughly brief you on the itinerary for the tour (depending upon the package you have booked), as well as a summary of the kind of dolphins and whales you are about to see. Other detailed information such as how to swim alongside the dolphins, best methods to watch them, as well as all necessary security measures that need to be taken will also be explained clearly to you. For packages that include snorkelling and scuba diving, instructions for the same will be provided in detail as well. All trips take you to the edge of the lagoon, near the coral reef, where the boat is anchored as you wait to catch a glimpse of the dolphins and the whales. Watching dolphins is the first part of the trip, as dolphins can be seen closer to the coast. After you have seen the dolphins, and swum with them, you will be taken further out into the ocean, where you will have to wait to catch a glimpse of a whale or two. All tour operators mention that while there is a 90% chance of encountering dolphins on any given day, the opportunity of sighting whales is only a 60%, since whales are not as common as dolphins, and they are susceptible to water conditions as well.
Things To Note
Tour operators who arrange trips to go dolphin/whale watching have a book of guidelines which all tourists are expected to note and follow. The main points of these guidelines are: · Dolphin/whale watching trips are generally not recommended for pregnant women · Children aged below seven years are not allowed to go on these trips · Most trips depart from the coast of Tamarin, so tourists are advised to get there on time to avoid delays and other time-related issues · Some tour operators can arrange for transport to and from the tourists’ hotel (it has to be booked in advance, though) · Specially-abled tourists need to specify their concerns and issued beforehand. · In case of speed boat trips, the maximum capacity that the boats can take is ten people. If the tourist party includes more than ten people, a catamaran trip will have to be booked.
A warm climate means warmer seas, and warmer seas tend to attract more marine life, which is why summer is the ideal season for catching the most glimpses of dolphins and whales. Not only are the waters warm enough for you to take a dip in and swim alongside the dolphins, but the sun also sets much later during the summer, so you have greater opportunities of sighting dolphins and whales.