An unexpected highlight of my time in Papua New Guinea was the number of dolphins seen, on trips from the Duke of York Islands and Kokopo. Unlike many people swimming with dolphins was never on my bucket list but with time to kill on my last day the opportunity was too good to miss. I’m very glad I did, it was a wondrous experience!
The trip with the Rapopo Plantation Resort (where we stayed) dive shop Rabaul-Kokopo Dive was already fully booked so we went with Rabaul Dive Adventures based at the Kokopo Beach Bungalows. This turned out for the best as there were only four of us on the boat, we were the first boat out there when the waters were calmest and had wonderful light as the sun rose, and most importantly they put a rope ladder / net into the water which we held onto as the boat moved.
The Rabaul-Kokopo Dive boat that arrived as we left appeared to just have people holding on with one arm onto ropes off the side of the boat. Given that we spent nearly an hour in the water this would have been exhausting without the net to put on feet and arms into. We were lucky to have four of us as we could all stay in the water the whole time, rather than having to take turns. The price was the same from both companies, 250 Kina which is about AUD$130.
Before getting in the water we watched the dolphins having fun jumping around. There are around 200 living in this area about 15 minutes from Kokopo. On my travels I’ve never seen anywhere near this number before.
Putting snorkel and masks on we made ourselves comfortable in the nets before the boat starting to move at an increasing pace. Suddenly dolphins appeared in front, to the side, and below us, usually in pairs or groups. It was quite a surreal experience to be so close to them, seemingly just out of reach, able to see their scars and speed up close.
Before leaving the area I sat at the front of the boat watching the dolphins literally just below me, quite incredible.
Less spectacular but still rather pleasant was the super shallow reef just off the beach from Rapopo Plantation Resort, fun to explore with a canoe or outrigger canoe and snorkeling gear.