The Lagoonarium is one of the most notorious and publicized snorkeling spots in Moorea. Situated close to a motu, this site allows you to observe many species specific to Polynesian lagoons, especially blacktip reef sharks, rays, moray eels, and lots of reef fish. Nevertheless, you should know that the Lagoonarium is a controversial spot, because shark feeding is practiced here, a not so environmentally friendly practice which brought about a series of recent incidents.

View of Motu Ahi and the Lagoonarium
The Lagoonarium snorkeling spot (where the yellow buoys are), with Motu Ahi on the right.

How to go snorkeling the Lagoonarium?

The Lagoonarium is located in Moorea lagoon, close to Motu Ahi. There are two available options to snorkel the Lagoonarium:

  • Spend a few hours or the entire day on Motu Ahi island. You can reach this small private island by pirogue, just a few minutes away from PK8, located 4km south of the ferry terminal. The site is opened every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the prices are CFP 3900/adult and CFP 2900/child. Attention, only a small part of the island, where the huts are installed, is opened to the public. Once on the motu, you are just a few meters swim away from the reef.
  • Book a boat trip around Moorea from one of the many trip organizers of the island, which comprises a snorkeling stop at Lagoonarium. If the motu is private, the lagoon is not, and anyone can access the site.

Lagoonarium Moorea snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling the Lagoonarium

If you are on the motu, you can get into the water directly from the shore opposite the snorkeling location. If you take part in a trip, you will get into the water directly from your boat.

Lagoonarium snorkeling exploration

The Lagoonarium is a location with a particular setup. Located close to a barrier reef, it is continuously crossed by a strong inward current (in Moorea’s direction) which is difficult to fight against, even with fins. Actually, a network of strings has been installed on site. These strings allow people to move around the reef, using the strength of their arms, or to rest.

Snorkeling with reef sharks in the Lagoonarium, Moorea
Blacktip reef sharks are common at the Lagoonarium reef flat.

The Lagoonarium is formed of a reef flat covered in big porites-type coral heads, as well as some digitate corals. The reef is in a variable state, very deteriorated in some areas. Turbinaria triquetra seaweed also tends to invade certain areas of the reef flat. The Lagoonarium allows visitors to spot many species of reef fish, especially regal angelfish, Moorish idol and several butterflyfish species.

The controversy surrounding the Lagoonarium is caused by shark feeding, a daily practice on the site. At set times of the day, the visitors are invited to get into the water and to place themselves along the ropes, and then fish remains are launched in the sea. Then begins an anxious ballet of sharks, rays, jacks and moray eels, in a rush to receive food. This practice has caused several incidents, involving especially giant moray eels and sharks, the latest being in November 2019 (a young boy assisting the shark feeding was bitten by a shark). For now the authorities seem to further tolerate this practice.

Sixbar wrasse in the Lagoonarium, Moorea
Sixbar wrasse (thalassoma hardwicke) is one of the many fish species that are easily spotted in the Lagoonarium.

For these reasons, and because feeding is a practice which compromises the marine ecosystem, we do not especially recommend the Lagoonarium. If you are considering snorkeling the Lagoonarium in order to swim with the sharks, we rather recommend the Sharks Sandbank, on the north-western tip of Moorea. The sharks are more numerous and more peaceful there and you can get there by kayak, which is a cheaper option.

Restaurants and accommodation near the Lagoonarium




 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m
  • Water entranceFrom a rocky shore (or a boat, if you choose the boat tour option)
  • Potential DangersReported incidents caused by shark feeding
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsMotu Ahi entrance fee (CFP 3900/adult) or snorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.