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.
The Lagoonarium is located in Moorea lagoon, close to Motu Ahi. There are two available options to snorkel 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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