Polperro’s tours are focused on viewing and swimming with Port Phillip Bay’s dolphins and the Australian fur seals. Tours are structured but the itineraries are dictated by the conditions at the time of the tour and the behaviour of the marine mammals that are the focus of the tour. Our area of operation is in close proximity to the entrance of Port Phillip Bay and tidal conditions at certain times and in particular areas mean it is not safe to enter the water. This also applies to operating in areas under some weather conditions. Our local knowledge, garnered from over 35 years of experience operating in the area, generally means we have viable alternatives.
We supply all snorkelling equipment and wetsuits, as well as providing morning or afternoon tea. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are served throughout the tour. All you need to bring is a jacket, towel, bathers (have these on under clothes on arrival), hat and sunscreen. Dress according to the weather forecast on the day. However, it is always wise to bring a jacket regardless of the forecast as the sea breeze can make people a bit chilly between swims.
No, you do not need to be a great swimmer or have snorkelling experience to participate in our swims. At the start of each tour, one of our qualified snorkelling instructors will provide you with a detailed briefing on how we conduct our interactions, provide instructions on how to use the provided snorkelling equipment and make sure that your equipment is properly fitted and right for you. Our snorkelling instructors accompany you in the water and provide one-on-one care for those who might be a little nervous. We do ask however that you please notify our staff ahead of your trip so that we can plan accordingly.
We never feed the dolphins and seals. It is illegal to do so. It is important for people to understand that we are working with wild animals. The interactions we conduct are on the dolphins and seals terms; they are not enticed in any way and come into the boat and people in the water because they want to.
No. Polperro works under a permit granted by the epartment of Energy, Environment and Climate Action Victoria licence, which has very specific regulations about interaction with dolphins and seals. They are wild animals. Polperro has conducted swims with the dolphins and seals since 1986. During that time we have built a relationship based on trust. The dolphins and seals will come in for a close encounter because they feel comfortable doing so. There is no reaching out to touch and doing so will ruin the interaction for yourself and the other swimmers.
Polperro has a long history of conducting tours for school groups and families and our qualified snorkelling instructors are accustomed to taking people both young and old into the water. We do not stipulate how old participants must be, but they must be willing and able to give it a go. In-water activities require a moderate level of physical effort and general good health and fitness to enter cool, deep, open water. Small children are particularly susceptible to the cold. We want the experience to be fun and will not coerce people to swim. The tour can be enjoyed from the deck and observers get a great look without getting wet.
Finding and swimming with the Bay’s dolphins is the focus of our tours. We conduct other activities such as seal swims and reef snorkels, but the dolphins are our priority. We have been operating around the dolphins since the mid 1980s and use the same vessel as we did when we started as we believe that the dolphins are familiar and comfortable with Polperro and this enhances our prospects of having great interactions. All of Polperro’s crew have worked with Port Phillip Bay’s dolphins for many years and we have use our collective experience to find the dolphins and provide our passengers with the opportunity to have an unforgettable eye-to-eye encounter. Dolphins are wild animals and have lives to lead where we are not the priority. We have a success rate of almost 95% over our 35 years of operation.
The water temperature in Port Phillip Bay fluctuates according to the time of the year. When we commence our tours (September) the water is around 15 degrees Celsius and the temperature rises to peak at around 21-22 degrees. When our swimming season concludes in May, the water has dropped from its summer high but is still very pleasant. We have a range of wetsuits that are suitable for the conditions. Our selection of wetsuits caters for all shapes and sizes and our crew will help select a suit that is right for you and the conditions.
General tours can be booked online via our website or by contacting the office directly by email or phone. For large sightseeing tours, tailored tours or school groups, please contact the office directly. Contact details can be found on our website.
Inclement weather sometimes forces the cancellation of trips. Call the office for a weather check before you set out on the day of your booking. In the event of a tour being cancelled, fares are refunded or you can reschedule.
Being informed by and adopting the guidelines developed by peak industry bodies and the government is essential to implementing and maintaining expected levels of professionalism in service provision. Polperro holds Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation and our tours are run in accordance with the Australian Adventure Activity Standards [AAS] for Snorkelling, and Wildlife Swims. All crew possess qualifications that meet and exceed what is appropriate to perform their duties. Polperro’s crew collectively has over 100 years of experience out on the waters of Port Phillip Bay.
Polperro is a Parks Victoria licensed tour operator. We also have a Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DELWP) dolphin swim permit. The tour vessel is an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) registered commercial vessel and crew are appropriately qualified.