Polperro Dolphin Swims – Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get there?
1. Meet the boat Polperro at: Sorrento Pier, Esplanade, Sorrento 3943
We are adjacent to the car ferry terminal (Peninsula Searoad) which is 115 kms from Melbourne CBD.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/HC12d
2. Visit the METLINK website for all public transport information and timetables.
• Train: Melbourne to Frankston, then take the bus to Sorrento
• Bus: Frankston to Sorrento Route 788 using Portsea Passenger Service
• By car: allow up to two hours. Go via City Link, Monash Freeway, Eastlink, Peninsula Link, Mornington Peninsula Freeway on the east side of Port Phillip Bay.
• If coming from the west you will need to take the car ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento.
How do I book?
The personalised nature of our trips relies on you contacting our office by telephone or email.
Please book early for a date of your choice
Phone: +61 (0)3 59888437
Is the water cold?
The water temperature in Port Phillip Bay fluctuates according to the time of the year. When we commence our tours (October) the water is around 15 degrees celsius and the temperature rises to peak at around 21-22 degrees. When our swimming season concludes at the end of April, 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 wetsuits range from thick one and two piece 5mm diving suits to thinner 3mm surfing or ‘steamer’ suits. Our selection of wetsuits caters for all shapes and sizes and our crew will help select a suit that is right for you.
Do you always see dolphins?
Finding and swimming with the Bay’s dolphins is the focus of our tours. We conduct other activities, 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 used our collective experience to find the dolphins and provide our passengers with the opportunity to have an unforgettable eye-to-eye encounter. The 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 25 years of operation.
What do I need to bring?
We supply all snorkeling 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. We also have blankets on-board if people get cold between swims.
Do I need to be a great swimmer to get in the water?
No, you do not need to be a great swimmer or have snorkeling experience to participate in our swims.
At the start of each tour one of our qualified snorkeling instructors will provide you with a detailed briefing on how we conduct our interactions, provide instruction on how to use the provided snorkeling equipment and make sure that your equipment is properly fitted and right for you. Our snorkeling instructors accompany you in the water and provide one-on-one care for those who might be a little nervous.
Is there an age restriction to swim with the dolphins and seals?
‘Polperro’ has a long history conducting tours for school groups and families and our qualified snorkeling 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.
Do you charge less for children?
‘Polperro’ offers a reduced rate for children if they are observers on our tours, but if they swim then the rate is the same as the adult fare.
Can we buy food and drinks on the boat?
No. Morning and afternoon tea is served to all passengers on our tours. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water are all provided at no extra cost. And we serve hot, freshly baked scones!
When trips are cancelled, what happens then?
Inclement weather sometimes forces the cancellation of trips. Call the office (5988 8437) for a weather-check before you set out on the day of your booking. In the event of a tour being cancelled, deposits are refunded or you can reschedule.
What about sharks?
There are over 400 species of sharks and only a handful of these pose any risk to humans. The last reported shark attack in Port Phillip Bay occurred more than 70 years ago.
Can we touch the dolphins and seals?
No. ‘Polperro’ works under permit granted by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning and a Parks Victoria license, which has very specific regulations about interaction with the dolphins and seals. They are wild animals. ‘Polperro’ has conducted swims with the dolphins and seals since 1986. In 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.
Do you feed the dolphins and seals?
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.
What is ‘Polperro’s’ cancellation policy?
Bookings can be cancelled at no expense if you provide us with 48 hours’ notice. We operate well under our carrying capacity in order to run a personalized service. If you fail to give at least 48 hours’ notice for a cancellation, full payment for the tour is charged.
Is your crew qualified?
Being informed by and adopting the guidelines developed by peak industry bodies and 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 Adventure Activity Standards [AAS] for Snorkeling, Wildlife Swims. All crew possess qualifications that meet and exceed what is appropriate to perform their duties
What do ‘Polperro’s’ tours involve?
‘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 25 years of experience operating in the area, generally means we have viable alternatives.
Accreditation & Awards
Polperro holds Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation. We conduct responsible tourism offering interactions with wildlife whilst caring for the environment. Passenger safety and customer care is paramount. Polperro is a multi-award winner:
• ADVANCED ECOTOURISM ACCREDITATION.
• Winner Skills Hub Training Award – Sustainability 2011.
• Winner Sustainability Business Award 2011, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula region.
• Winner Sustainability Business Award 2012, Melbourne and South East region, Victoria.
• Finalist Best Business Award 2011, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula region.
• Victorian ‘Hall of Fame Environmental Tourism’ Award. Polperro was inducted into Hall of Fame after winning the best environmental business award for three consecutive years.
• Finalist Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2014
• Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018