Personal Mozambique Ocean Experience:
I am not a diver. (I keep meaning to learn to dive. But I never spend enough time at a beach resort to do a PADI course. ) But I do love to snorkel… Most of South Africa’s waters are too cold for brightly colored tropical fish species except for KwaZulu Natal. So this is an area I head to whenever I can. From Sodwana Bay and northwards, you have some stunning areas for diving and snorkeling. In a previous blog post, I mentioned two excellent coastal lodges. One in South Africa – Thonga Beach Lodge – and one just over the border in southern Mozambique – White Pearl Resorts.
At both lodges you can get a good quality snorkeling experience right from the beach, which I like. I don’t have to pay extra for a special snorkeling excursion, if I don’t want to. I can snorkel for as long as I want. And, when my kids were younger, I didn’t have to ’um and ah’ as to whether my kids were old enough to be able to snorkel from a boat without getting scared.
White Pearl Resort has an epic, additional attraction – the Mozambique ocean experience where you can swim with the dolphins if you are lucky. Nothing is guaranteed! But there’s a pretty good chance of seeing them (70 %) and even if you don’t, you still have some excellent snorkeling to look forward to…
Your excursion starts with a quite comprehensive briefing about the dolphins. And also what to do when you encounter them. There is a certain way to behave otherwise you will frighten them off. It helps to be a strong swimmer who is comfortable diving under the water for some time, but not essential.
Next we head off through the surf on our adventure. As many will know, Southern African waters are not calm and placid. So getting the boat in the water is an adrenaline rush all of its own, as you surge through the waves at top speed.
The excursion is divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to trying to find and swim with the dolphins and then afterwards you head to a great snorkeling spot. Unfortunately for us, we were amongst the 30% who did not find any shoals of dolphins (despite having seen them dancing in the waves right in front of the swimming pool on the previous day). So that adventure still awaits me.
However – Our skipper spotted a large grey mass in the water and went to investigate. “Whale shark” the crew all exclaimed – ‘Great’… The skipper explained that the whale shark is actually completely harmless and is in fact the largest fish in the sea. He encouraged us to jump in quickly and have a look. Now I am not very good at looking through water at shadows, so I couldn’t really see it from the boat. Everyone was quickly getting set up and so I followed suit. In fact I was one of the first in the water. I adjusted my goggles and looked down. What seems like only 2-3 metres DIRECTLY below me was the largest fish I have ever seen (or will ever) – definitely whale-like in size and demeanor. It was swimming slowly away from the boat and so we set off after it.
It was an incredible experience, swimming above this vast silent creature. I swam as fast as I could and kept up for quite a while (several minutes). Everyone who had jumped in the water saw the shark but only some had been quick enough in the water were able to swim with him.
Later on – having still failed to find the dolphins, we reached the snorkeling spot. Immediately a Manta Ray was spotted from the boat! This time I was not as fast as my husband into the water, and so I saw just the tail end of the ray as he moved away in a massive swirl of sand. But Anton had managed to see him in his magnificent glory. However I was not unhappy, as there was a wide variety – and volume – of colourful tropical fish – unfortunately I can remember their names no longer – which kept us happily ensconced for ages. We headed back to the resort after a very successful trip.
The dolphin/snorkeling experience is an additional cost at White Pearl Resort and much recommended. It can only be booked when you arrive at the resort because it is weather dependent.
Given this, I recommend booking the trip immediately you arrive so that if it has to be delayed, you have time to do it another day…