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“Worth stopping to see.”

Swimming with Turtles
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Half-Day North Coast Savaii Island Tour
Reviewed 11 January 2014

I had read all the different reviews and was reluctant to visit. However we did brave the murky filthy water and did in fact engage with the Turtles. Only the large female seems to like the company and I had fun rubbing her shell then found she actually liked being tickled under her neck and armpits. So this gave me great please as I felt I was truly interacting with her. You pay 5WST each for the experience and a young girl chopped up a papaya for the turtles. It would have been much better to actually be able to hand feed the turtles ourselves. By the time we got into the water the papaya was all consumed. The village people who take your money did not seem to want to discuss why these turtles are here. Are they actually captive??

Thank AmandaKIndia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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183 - 187 of 236 reviews

Reviewed 29 October 2013

This place reminds me of a primitive version of Thailand's infamous Tiger Kingdom. If you don't know it, look it up on TA (read my review if you wish).

Before leaving for Samoa, I was certain that we would exclude this place from our tour of Savai'i. However as we were staying very close and had our 2 year old with us, I was reluctantly convinced by my wife to see it for ourselves, if only so our son could see a turtle. Nearly a week has passed since our visit and I've tried to find a way to describe this place in a positive light, but cannot.

Put simply, Swimming with the turtles, like more advance models elsewhere (e.g. Tiger Kingdom) profit from the selfishness and arrogance of tourism. That we are so caught up in the spectacle of getting close to natures best creations that we don't care how we do it. I mean no offence to those who take pleasure from these attractions (as my two year old was one of them), but at some point we need to take a step back, get some perspective and see the bigger picture. If we really love these animals, do we really want to see them like this.

I was fortunate enough to see one in the wild whilst snorkelling and that was much more special than my "up-close-and-personal' view at the swimming turtles. I personally would rather not see any at all, than see them in captivity.

I don't entirely blame the owners, as they are simply trying to make a living in a country that has limited industry. Tiger Kingdom commits a worse crime because they know what they are doing and continue to do it. Here I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they treat the turtles as pets (still not ideal) and have realised that tourists enjoy seeing them - perhaps in the same way we might comment on someone else's dog in the park back home.


The problem here though is two fold.

One is that the owners probably don't know how to properly care for a turtle. I am not vet, but I imagine that wild sea turtles don't eat papaya all day long. Plus there is definitely an overcrowding issue, with apparently nearly 20 in one pond. Is the water cleaned or refreshed? who knows?

Two is that there are no boundaries for what tourists can/can't do. Leaving it up to us is a big mistake! Whilst some of us automatically feel uncomfortable and restrain our interaction, most jump right in, pick up a turtle and pose for the camera with a cheesy grin. Yep that's real nature for you. What an authentic wildlife experience.
How anyone can get satisfaction from this is beyond me.

The fact that the turtles follow you or seem undisturbed by our intrusion is probably more a reflection of the fact they have resigned to their imprisonment and that we are their only source of food during the day.

If you really want to see a turtle, learn to dive (I haven't yet), go snorkelling, go out on a glass bottom boat or just go to a zoo at your nearest capital city. At least there the animals are looked after by professionals and not manhandled all day.

8  Thank koizi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 October 2013

We were surprised that when we got to the turtles, it was run by the village, however it was a great experience for my family, as this was one of the main attractions we were looking forward to doing in Savaii... The experience was amazing, exciting and scary at the same time, there was one turtle that seemed to be very accustomed to the attention of people. When they had had enough of being fed, touched, picked up etc, they would swim off and keep away from the feeding area. They seem to be looked after quite well, and are fed regularly... It was an amazing experience, well worth having a look.

1  Thank Kura N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 October 2013

This was one of our favorite activities in Savai'i! There are about 6 or so turtles. I didn't realize how friendly they are! It was so fun to hold them and swim alongside them. The biggest one followed us around. We had a blast.

1  Thank Anika T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2013

I was so disappointed the turles are enclosed in a dirty pond with out any place for them to come out to rest people are allowed to pick them up, be toed around by them for as long as they want and no matter how tired they obviously become. THE OWNERS need to provide proper clean enviroment with sand for them to rest on as well as a place for them to breed.They also should have someone onsite caring for their well being when guests don't.
DEBBIE from Australia

4  Thank Debbie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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