Swimming with Dolphins in Mauritius
Early morning sunlight sparkled across the turquoise water as we boarded our private boat. The sun had just peeked out over the ever-present and slightly imposing form of Le Morne Brabant and we were departing for an adventure. As we sped away from the coast, I admired the quiet beach and calm lagoon that would soon fill up once guests awakened. However, the mystery of the deep ocean and the promise of wild dolphins beckoned, so I turned to face the front and settled in to enjoy the ride.
We had arrived at the dreamy LUX* Le Morne in Mauritius the previous day and wanted to make the most of our short visit. Situated in the south west of the island, LUX* Le Morne is one of the most beautiful hotels in Mauritius. Besides the majestic Le Morne Mountain in the background, the long stretch of sandy white beach and lush tropical surroundings, make the entire property a treat to explore. After a tour of the resort, we checked into our lovely room, a Honeymoon Suite consisting of a spacious room, en-suite bathroom with large spa bath and a balcony with a view. Our afternoon was spent enjoying a superb but leisurely lunch at the aptly named restaurant, The Beach. This was followed by a pampering massage and some special treatment in the serene gardens of the LUX* Me Spa.
The sunset that evening was a gorgeous spectacle and we splashed around in the warm shallow waters as we watched the ever-changing colors of the sky. Dinner served at the exclusive restaurant called East was excellent. The Asian Fusion meal, cocktails, and wine were complemented perfectly by the stunning setting and lively atmosphere. We took a slow stroll along the pathways back to our room, fully taking in our environment. As we drifted off to sleep on the large comfortable bed, we felt satisfied with a day well spent and excited for our adventure early the next morning.
LUX* Le Morne has a myriad of exciting land and water activities to choose from, but swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitat is the most popular. There are two pods of dolphins that call the warm waters off the coast of Le Morne home. Which makes it a quick and easy trip for guests of LUX* Le Morne and a truly unforgettable experience in Mauritius. As our boat passed over the rougher waves caused by the coral reefs we turned left and travelled parallel to the coast. I marvelled at the beauty of the land in the distance. The lush vegetation hid the many resorts and the striking mountain with its rich history stood sentinel watching over its island.
My excitement increased as we headed further west and closer to that famous underwater waterfall that can be seen when flying above Mauritius. Soon we spotted a cluster of boats in front of us and our skipper, Christopher informed us that we had found the dolphins. He told us that there were two species of dolphins that live here, bottlenose dolphins and skipper dolphins. The pod we had found were the skipper dolphins, which are smaller in size but much more friendly and playful. After some safety instructions, we donned our flippers and snorkelling masks before positioning ourselves on the edge of the boat, ready to jump. Soon enough, Christopher had gotten us into the best position, just in front of the pod and shouted for us to jump.
I leaped off the boat and plunged deep into the Indian Ocean, instantly filling my breathing tube with salty sea water. The choking that followed combined with the view of the endless blue all around me sent me into a slight panic. No matter how much time you spend in the ocean that fear of what lurks in that deep blue beyond your vision will always shock you. I surfaced, coughed, cleared my snorkelling tube and took some time to breathe deeply to calm myself down. By that time the pod had passed us, so we clambered back aboard the boat to get back into position and try again.
As we reached the right spot, I took a deep breath, adjusted my snorkelling mask and breathing tube and lowered myself gently into the water. I looked down and was instantly greeted by a magical sight. There were four dolphins swimming right below me, one even rolled over and waved a flipper and me. Stunned by their proximity, I floated and stared as more passed me by, completely forgetting to swim along with them at first. Dolphins are agile creatures that move swiftly through the water. Their pace slows down the deeper they go, which is why you can swim along keeping pace with them at times. However, the closer they are to the surface the faster they go, so you quickly fall behind the group as they get closer.
We repeated this process for close to two hours. Clamber aboard the boat, get into position, jump in and swim. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. I swam until I could no more and then floated transfixed by the scenes below and around me. I dove deep under water following the descent of the dolphins closest to me before bobbing back up to the surface to clear my gear. I watched as the dolphins got used to our presence and their curiosity brought them ever closer – but just out of reach.
Growing up on the Dolphin Coast of South Africa, I had plenty of interactions with dolphins. They would often appear in the shallow waters where we swam or surfed. Their presence was a comfort as it meant there were no sharks nearby. But, this experience was different somehow. It was more real, more authentic, a true encounter with beautifully wild spirits and intelligent beings. As we headed back to shore, I felt immense joy and gratitude for the opportunity and a deep desire to conserve the ocean for these marine animals. As we tucked into a delicious breakfast back at LUX* Le Morne, I vowed to be back soon.