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“A sad life for the turtles in Satoalepai,BUT Malua turtle visit better..”

Swimming with Turtles
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Half-Day North Coast Savaii Island Tour
Reviewed 24 January 2014

We were staying nearby to the village the turtle attraction is in & had been warned that we may not enjoy the situation the turtles live in.We had also been warned not to put our heads in the water if we swam with them.
We arrived late morning & there was a large family there that had paid their entry fee also in the small fale where you feed the turtles & get in & out of the filthy water..They had lunch with them & pretty much filled up the fale having a picnic lunch .There was a child chopping up & feeding the turtles the small amount of pawpaw & we were a couple of rows back.The visiting children then all jumped into the water & caused havoc chasing the turtles & stirring the already filthy water up.My husband went & spoke to the person we had paid the money to & said it was not ideal having all that going on when people had paid to see the turtles but could not.Our daughter got into the water to her hips but the bottom is really slippery & with all the pawpaw gone & the noise the turtles had gone.We were told to come back @ 5pm & it would be no charge.As we were close by we did go back, hoping for a better impression on the 2nd visit.We were the only ones there & the child let us chop & feed the pawpaw.Our daughter did not go into the water but got to feed the turtles & we realized that it is all very sad, as they live in really dirty water ,have slime on their shells & are trapped in their environment...
ON THE OTHER HAND............
We have been to Malua Theological College many times ( on main road between Apia & the airport) & have never seen the turtles there...So this trip we went to see them..We went in the late afternoon & there was no one else there.You can park on the wee grass track around the back of the large turtle pond & we purchased pawpaw @ a road side stall driving out from Apia & had a knife with us.It was just a much better experience as the water was very clean & the turtles shells were clean.This is a free of charge attraction & is well worth a visit.The turtles are in a nicer setting & just a road way away from the sea.Also a nice wee strip of sand to stand on & the turtles swim up if you have pawpaw.A much more positive turtle experience.

5  Thank CBEP2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 January 2014

My little family thoroughly enjoyed this experience. The turtles were friendly and didn't mind being touched. There were about eight turtles there. Very cheap,

1  Thank Toaiva T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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

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