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Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

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Sydney, Australia
posts: 21
reviews: 117
Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

On a recent trip to Efate, my family visited the Turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon. It's not listed as an Attraction on TripAdvisor, so I thought I'd leave some information here to assist future visitors.

QUICK SUMMARY

Come at high-tide to swim with the turtles. The children will love it! Don't bother with the accommodation.

Also, please note that this is NOT the Blue Lagoon swimming hole that you'll find on the East coast of Efate. Nor is it the Bluewater Island Resort that is nearby.

THE DETAIL

Crystal Blue Lagoon is a marine conservation area that collects turtle hatchlings and raises them until they're a few months old and releases them to the wild. When you visit, you'll get to see the young turtles and you're welcome to pick them up and have a play with them. Actually, our pre-teen children thought this was the highlight of their whole Vanuatu trip!

Even better is an enclosed rock pool containing various turtles (one aged 60 years!), reef sharks (they're safe), fish and a sting-ray (that has had its barb removed). We were told that, if you come at high tide, you get to swim with them. Unfortunately we didn't know this, so we missed the opportunity, but we still had the opportunity to feed pawpaw to some of the turtles.

There's a nearby beach that looks great for snorkeling but the weather was a bit harsh during our visit so we didn't swim. There is also accommodation and conference facilities, but frankly they looked pretty basic so I'd recommend just planning a day visit.

While we were there (July 2011) there was construction going on. Apparently Crystal Blue Lagoon was previously in a different location and was sold to a different operator. It then fell into disrepair and the original operator started again in this new location. It's owned by a Vietnamese gentleman and is run in cooperation with the Vanuatu Fisheries Department. The staff even live in their own on-site village.

There is accommodation available, but it didn't look like particularly high quality. I'd suggest coming for the turtles, but not staying overnight unless you're a marine biologist.

Crystal Blue Lagoon is a good 30-minute drive south-east of Port Vila along some unsealed roads (in the neighbourhood of Tamaru on the Sands) so you'll either need your own rental car or take a bus. We negotiated with a bus to take us there, wait for a couple of hours, then drive us back for VT 5000 (Approx AUD$50). You might be able to bargain for a better deal. We recommend that you take the shorter and far better, partially sealed White Sands road to drive to Crystal Blue Lagoon, unless you want a really bumpy and much longer unsealed road experience!

Entry cost VT 1500 per adult and VT 500 per children (so a family of four cost us VT 4000 / AUD $40).

37 replies to this topic
Brisbane, Australia
posts: 678
reviews: 54
21. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

When I saw this review I remembered reading, very happily when the BWIR Aquarium closed down. I thought this must have been the same place, just moved down the road. How sad for the poor animals. I can only hope that the owner has improved his treatment of the animals. However, Vanuatu being the place that we know and love......I doubt he has been given any incentive to do so.

That website is all over the place. They offer holidays to Spain, Madrid, Las Vegas and lots of other places. What is really going on there??

I hope this place shuts down soon, but then what will happen to the marine life that's being held there? So sad.

This is not a place that I would ever visit. I can't see how any enjoyment could be had.

Kerry

Sydney, Australia
posts: 21
reviews: 117
22. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

Well, it's most interesting hearing different angles from people!

While we were at CBLR, we were told that the Vietnamese owner, Dinh Van Than, had previously operated a similar operation nearby. We were told that he had sold it to an Australian who had let it run down. So, he created this new CBLR afresh.

I suspect that the run-down one is Bluewater Island Resort, east of CBLR, which we drove past and popped into briefly before realising it wasn't the place we wanted. It certainly looked run-down compared to the pictures of Bluewater Island Resort that I've seen online.

Yes, the current CBLR website has a totally misleading picture. However, it seems to be the correct URL, since it's the same as shown on a brochure we have that definitely depicts the CBLR that we visited. The domain-name for CBLR is owned by digitalsearchonline.com, which suggests that it's more a search destination than a website.

But, if there's one thing I learned from the TripAdvisor forums before visiting Vanuatu, it's to lower my expectations. That made the whole trip enjoyable!

Christchurch, New...
posts: 39
reviews: 4
23. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

Yeah...we went there this time to see the turtles and had been to the "other" place a few years back and it did definitely seem a bit wrong. They say that they keep the turtles from hatchlings thru to release at 7 years but there were none for the 3,4,5, years and only a couple of 6 year olds. Their turtle "facts" were a bit dodgy and none of the turtles were tagged for release so it is not a monitored project.They were open about not receiving govt. funds. Just a commercial venture. The restaurant is in a cool location tho. If you want to see turtles in a more humane setting there is a sanctury on Tranquility Island which is a nice day trip but no picking up the little turtles there tho! Not a good thing to do apparently for them or us.

posts: 3
reviews: 2
24. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

We also went here with our 3 children aged 17, 15 and 10 years. Our bus driver Jack who we hired for the day suggested stopping there after the Blue Lagoon. It was well worth the entrance fee and 3 of us swam with the turtles and sharks. It was the highlight of the trip for us. The location is spotless, no rubbish anywhere. The views and snorkling wonderful. We brought our own packed lunch and ate it at one of the many picnic tables. Make the effort, and go there you won't be disappointed.

Port Vila, Vanuatu
posts: 1,022
reviews: 13
25. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

Have not been to the new place, but if wildlife is caught and imprissoned for our enjoyment then that's totaly wrong....plus same owner as the other place, same business model.

Reading above: "They say that they keep the turtles from hatchlings thru to release at 7 years but there were none for the 3,4,5, years and only a couple of 6 year olds" is very disconcerting as it sounds more like instructions from the owner to staff: "...tell tourists this and they'll keep coming back, all that green stuff good for business..."

Australia
Destination Expert
for Port Vila, Vanuatu
posts: 1,827
reviews: 69
26. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

I agree with Vanuatulocal. The Turtle Beach is along the same lines as Crystal Blue and is not a conservation programme. Moso Island is a monitored programme and does release tagged young turtles rather than just keep them for display purposes in small enclosures.

Sydney
posts: 1
reviews: 23
27. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

This place is horrible - its over priced, they badly treat the marine life, they feed them paw paw and its a dump. Avoid at all costs it's a horrid tourist trap that needs to be closed down.

port vila
posts: 1
28. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

We were with our tourist friends and they lost their iphone in the gift shop.the husband remembered and returned less than 5 minutes from the restaurant but it was already gone. It went missing between the staffs and no one was honest enought to admit they took it.Advise you to be more careful with your belongings while visiting !

Edited: 7:51 am, June 08, 2013
posts: 1
reviews: 2
29. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

I found it a very sad and depressing experience. This isn't a turtle conservation sanctuary. There are a few little turtles in some concrete tanks, and then you get showed around a weird collection of animals that will be eaten. And then there is a small pen with fully grown turtles (that they've let people ride) and some reef sharks. They told us they won't release the turtles so it's really very odd. My advice is don't go, it's a lot of money, it doesn't help turtles and it will detrimentally change the way you see Vanuatu. I was really enjoying the island and then i saw this and felt terrible for having contributed to the suffering of these animals.

Newcastle, Australia
posts: 2
30. Re: Review - Play with turtles at Crystal Blue Lagoon Resort

We have recently been here too Sep. 2014

we ate here also, although it was fresh it was bland and very expensive.

we were also shown big pigs (bit stinky, but that's pigs for you )

It was still being renovated while we were there and was pretty noisy.

We didn't think much of the accommodation either so didn't stay again a bit pricey

seemed a bit deserted really, bit sad for such a beautiful beach.

we were told that it was good snorkeling but it was too rough for that

I wouldn't bother going really , just to feed some turtles some fruit :(

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