MOST tourists pay good money to get this close to our Australian creatures.
Not so for central Victorian couple Dean and Caroline McLaren.
While kayaking near Port Fairy surf beach, near Warrnambool, on the state's far southwest coast, English-born Mrs McLaren had a close encounter with a playful marine mammal.
The couple, who live in Newstead, were exploring the waters close to Port Fairy Surf Lifesaving Club last Tuesday when a pod of 20-30 dolphins approached them.
“The dolphins were chasing a school of fish, but after a few minutes started frollicking around the kayaks.
"We just sat there and watched," Mr McLaren said.
By chance, Mr McLaren managed to snap the exact moment a dolphin scaled his wife's kayak - close enough to splash her.
"It was just so amazing," Mrs McLaren said. "Others leaped right out and leaped vertically but this one just came up and over."
Mr McLaren, who has swum with dolphins in Africa, said the experience was "remarkable".
"You don't get to see that very often," he said.
"I didn't want to get my camera out, I just wanted to enjoy it, but then I thought I'd better take some photos or nobody will believe us."
The couple were on an annual camping holiday at the picturesque coastal town.
While they were not doing anything wrong, it is a timely reminder that under law, you should not go within 30m of dolphins and other marine mammals.
A Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman said: "We're lucky in Victoria to be able to see marine mammals like whales and dolphins but we need to make sure they are protected.
"Except if approached, people in canoes are reminded they must remain 30m away."
The 30m rule also applies for swimmers and surfers. Recreational boaters - mostly defined by those having an engine - must remain 100m away from dolphins and 200m from whales.
Read more on the Herald Sun.