During our visit to Norfolk last weekend Ms B and I took part in a seal safari on an amphibian vehicle. The one-hour tour run by Searles Sea Tours costs £18 (£9 for children) and departs from the Sea Tours Kiosk, Central Promenade, Hunstanton. We recommend you pre-book (in which case you’ll be asked to re-confirm your booking by phone in the morning of the day of your tour).
Despite the fact that it was extremely windy (our deep sea fishing boat trip the next day had already been cancelled for that reason) and despite a number of reported recent accidents with amphibian vehicles around the world, we felt in very safe hands throughout. These vehicles are not like the Duck Tours ones, which look and feel like a bucket with an outboard motor. No sir, you’re dealing with proper heavy machinery here: so-called LARCs (ironically abbreviated from Light Amphibious Resupply Cargo vehicles) from the Vietnam War, which have just undergone extensive refurbishment last year. They call them Wash Monsters (we went out on Wiley the Wash Monster, the other ones are called Wizzy and Waler).
We liked that this is a family-run business and it never hurts to have a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, like they do.
After a short safety briefing you take off towards the sandbanks where the seals reside. The 20-minute ride out there involves close to zero chances of encountering any seals, but it’s very beautiful nonetheless. The wash is an amazing habitat and we were stunned by the magic the sunlight does on its surface.
When we arrived at the sandbanks, we stopped about 200 metres away, in order not to disturb these cute creatures. It was not close enough to take presentable photos without a zoom (and we didn’t have a zoom lens with us). A few times seals were swimming a bit closer to the boat, perhaps 50m away, but because of the waves and the fact that only their tiny little heads stick out of the water most of the time, we missed out on those photo opportunities too.
All four photos showing seals are (c) Searles; all other photos (c) Berkeley Square Barbarian
However, no one on board felt any disappointment. Quite to the contrary: 200 metres is definitely close enough to watch the seals and enjoy the sights. It looks so funny when they wobble towards the water or back onto the beach!
We’d do this tour again anytime. 5 out of 5 in our book.