One of Don Khon’s most popular activities is a boat trip in search of the Irrawaddy dolphins that can occasionally be spotted off the southern side of the island. Take the railroad trail for 4km through rice paddies and thick forest to the village of Ban Hang Khon, the jumping-off point for dolphin-spotting excursions. The April–May dry season, when the Mekong is at its lowest, is the best time of year to catch a glimpse of this highly endangered species. The dolphins tend to congregate in a deep-water pool, and boats can be chartered from the village to see them. During the rest of the year, chances of seeing the dolphins decrease, as deeper water allows them more range. Recent efforts to protect the dolphins have seen the number in this region increase from thirty in 1993 to around sixty today, but their future here is still uncertain.
Following the success of tubing in Vang Vieng, enterprising islanders on the northern side of Don Det have started renting out tubes. The sandy beach at the island’s northern tip is the favoured jumping off point, but you should be aware of the strong currents – and parasites – found in these waters.