Mikurajima, an island administered by Tokyo that can be reached in six and a half hours from the city. A highlight of this place? You get to swim with wild dolphins. For a nature lover like myself, coming face to face with wildlife in mountains and other natural surroundings brings me pure joy. Here, I would like to share my experience getting to play with wild dolphins in Mikurajima.
Wild Dolphin Watching in Mikurajima
Early morning after 6am, my ferry arrives at Mikurajima to calm waters. The combination of peaceful weather, clear morning and the fact that it was my first time on the island, I got off the boat feeling excited.
Our hosts at Mikura-so, our lodging for the night, came to pick us up regardless of how early in the morning it was. Their tour package includes pick up and drop off from the port, a service we were very grateful for.
As the participants were few in number and the waves very gentle, we were told it was perfect condition for dolphin watching. Upon hearing those words, my heart pounded in excitement.
Preparing for the Dolphin Watch
As I was unconsciously wrapping seaweed around my onigiri (rice ball), my friend cut in to advise that it would be better if I ‘skip the seaweed’. Of course, I thought, remembering my childhood days when I would frequently get car sick, and ate my onigiri without the seaweed. Seaweed takes time to digest, so if you are worried about motion sickness, it’s best to avoid it.
My brain still half asleep, I get close to eating seaweed out of habit three more times, making me laugh.
Even if you don’t normally experience motion sickness, it’s best to take anti-sickness pills as a precaution when sailing on dolphin watching boats.
At 8:30 we make our way to the port. Descending a meandering hill, we arrive at the port to the strong scent of sea breeze. We listen to some precautionary instructions before boarding the boat.
There were hardly any waves when we departed, but the energy of the boat as we cut through the waves, the green precipice of the island to our left, got me excited.
The water was a light blue with a depth of about 5 meters. It’s so clear that you can see the rocks and fish on the bed of the sea. To my left was the lush green island, and by my feet the clear blue ocean. The fact that I was there on this little boat with nothing getting in the way of the wind blowing, felt to me like luxury.
Time to play with the dolphins
The boat nears the pod of dolphins. Once the captain gives us the go sign, we get into the water. 5, 6 dolphins pass just some 3 meters beneath me. I get a sudden urge to get closer to them but struggle with my fins as it was my first time swimming with them on. I ended up just wriggling at the same spot.
After that, I am told there is no way I will sink as I was wearing a wet suit, so I relax and give dolphin watching another go.
We move the boat to follow the pod of dolphins, and then enter the water again. This time several dolphins playfully swim around us, their squeaks and whistles audible through the water.
It gave me pleasure knowing I was in the middle of these sounds. The dolphins frolicking in the quiet ocean, it was a moment that shone brightly in my heart.
Every so often we moved the boat as though circling around the island, and enter the waters.
Depending on the dolphins’ moods, they may greet you, or tease you. There was even one that came close with its white belly facing upwards. And then there were the 3 dolphins that intertwined as they swam closer, leaving air bubbles where we were. There were some that curiously came close, as if to say ‘hey, do you want to swim together?’
Elated, I thought ‘yes! I would love to!’ but perhaps because I was so excited my lips must have loosened, I got water in my mouth and choked.
Thanks to the perfect weather conditions and our ample preparation, we were able to experience a blissful time.
It’s no fun if you aren’t in your best condition. With the right preparations, the experience can be double the fun I thought, as I reflected on the experience of my travels.
Phone Number: (+81) 090-2153-3798
Dolphin Watching season：Mid-April – November 15
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