My Birthday

Rainbow Beach Travel Blog

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Kayaking with dolphins on Rainbow beach

On my birthday we had booked to do some kayaking with dolphins. We had left a few days between our canoe safari and the kayaking to allow our arms to recover, but I had noticed with some amusement and slight concern that holding the goon box for any extended amount of time on Fraser had caused my arm to ache still. We were picked up from the hostel and driven far down Rainbow Beach until the beach swings round to form a little spit in front of itself. I was glad of this walk, since I had wanted to explore Rainbow much more but despite using it as a beach for longer than anywhere else we still had seen nothing of the sights! The cliffs were beautiful with orange, yellow and black streaks and the shops sell the bottles of sand pictures in bottles like the Isle of Wight Alum Bay. On the beach the instructor explained how we would be operating.

We should never approach the dolphins from behind as they think they are being hunted, so any groups should be approached from the side or front and always to the opposite side of the dolphins from the instructor. Then we jumped two in a kayak; me and Megha together and set off paddling into the sea.

It wasn't long before we saw a group of dolphins and paddled near them approaching them from the sides before stopping to float to allow them to gain trust in us. As they moved around the ocean, disappearing and reappearing we paddled around to be close to them and often got as close to them as 4 or 5 metres. I have swum with dolphins before and I found this more enchanting as it is seeing them in their natural habitat. After about an hour though the dolphins seemed to lose interest and we stopped seeing sightings. At that point there was little we could do but paddle around hoping to find other groups or even a whale. Soon we could hear a whale's blow holes, so we slapped the water with our paddles to attract their attention and encourage them to us. At first this didn't work, so the instructor decided to paddle instead to them. Unfortunately by this point Megha and I were exhausted and our arms agonising from the exterton. We were trying to keep up with the group but finding it difficult so we stopped trying and watched our group paddle off into the distance. By this time we were getting a bit edgy too, the swell was getting bigger and we could no longer see the beach as we were a mile off land. We were frightened of being so isolated in the sea and feeling dehydrated and seasick from the hangover and constant motion. The instructor waved us over but as he was 200m in the opposite direction from the beach we didn't feel we could cover the distance only to re-cover it on the way back. Eventually the group returned where we recieved a stern telling off from the instuctor in response to our profuse apologies. We started to head back but then there was a whale sound from nearby so we slapped the water again and after about 5 minutes we got our whale sighting from about 400m away!

It was time to head back and I was feeling distinctly unwell and quite disconcerted about being a mile off the beach in choppy weather. Suddenly the open water lake in Noosa seemed like a preferable place to be! I struggled to keep going but sincerely felt a hair's breadth from insisting to the instructor I couldn't get back and either swapping to someone else's kayak or begging for the coastal rescue. In addition to this we were being blown by the current and wind towards the headland which is when I really started to panic. The pain in my arms, the sick in my stomach and the anxiety was conspiring to make me panic and I very nearly cried from the exertion but I had to keep telling myself I would make it.

As we finally started to approach the shallower water the waves started to break and I turned to see a large one bearing down on us. I screamed as the force of the wave crashed into our kayak and we rode on the crest as the water piled into the kayak drenching us but pushing us for about 10 seconds almost right onto the beach. We were terrified but we laughed and laughed with delight and relief as we realised we had surfed onto dry land. Perhaps it was God's hand, saying 'Oh alright then, I'll help you with the last bit....' ;)

On the whole it was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone. But I would never attempt to do another canoe thing in the same week as another, and personally I'm all canoed out for the foreseeable future, if not forever. I knew the Australians were 'outdoorsy people', and while I am by no means athletic I am reasonably practical and strong, but each of the activities we have done so far have all been not only terrifying to a degree, but also really really gruelling work physically! Noosa was exhausting, Fraser driving was terrifying, kayaking was both. I am quite stunned and curious to know how titchy, feeble, non-practical people cope with these extreme situations!?

After the kayak we headed back to the hostel and got ready for our overnight road trip up to Airlie Beach where we are doing our Whitsundays Sailing Trip and also hope to find work on a boat for 'Nin. We set out at 3am, and drove through the night till 1am stopping only at Childers, Rockhampton and briefly at the side of the road for a pee. We had been strictly instructed NEVER to do this because of the frequency of attacks, rapes and murders on unsuspecting backpackers and drivers but the girls were desperate. We all had a scare when we realised only 50 metres ahead of us on the opposite side of the road was a beat-up old car with a man in it. We floored the pedal and drove for 15 minutes at 140km/hr adrenaline pumping! But I lived to tell the tale.... Eventually we stopped a couple of hours from Airlie for a snooze at a 24 hr petrol station and had an uncomfortable 3 hours sleep where we sat.

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Kayaking with dolphins on Rainbow …
Kayaking with dolphins on Rainbow…
Rainbow Beach
photo by: Marino