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Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

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Evanston, Illinois
posts: 148
reviews: 18
Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

Just returned from Moorea and Bora Bora for our honeymoon and thought I'd share my review of Albert's Lagoon Tour. Hope this helps!

After arriving in Moorea for the first half of our honeymoon, I was eager to sign up for one of the many advertised "Lagoon Tours" (also sometimes called "Motu Picnic and Ray Feeding") which take visitors on a tour of the northern part of the island. All tours of this type also stop to allow visitors to swim with stingrays, observe shark feedings, in addition to providing an all-you-can eat/drink buffet lunch. We had scoured Trip Advisor for highly rated tours and stumbled upon Albert's tours. Albert Transport is probably the island's largest tour operator and provides everything from ATV tours to jet skis to rental cars to lagoon tours. As such, they are very competitively priced.

First recommendation: DO NOT BOOK ANY EXCURSIONS THROUGH YOUR HOTEL!!! We stayed at the Hilton and found their excursion rates to be exorbitant. We rented a car our first day in Moorea and found a small Albert storefront across the street from the Pearl Resort. Albert's lagoon tour was priced at 6000 XPF per person (~$65) and offered free pickup at our resort (Hilton Moorea).

A large tour bus promptly picked us up at 8:30am on 7/17/2012 and took us to Club Bali Hai in Cook's Bay where the tour boat departed. In contrast to other similar water-faring excursions I've done in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico, I was disappointed to find that we'd be boarding a large overcrowded covered tour boat holding close to 60 passengers. Since my new wife and I were among the last to board, we didn't even get to sit next to each other.

Shortly after departing the dock, we were given a 15-minute tour of the geographic features visible from Cook's Bay. This tour was given in English, French and Japanese. We then motored around the northwest coast of the island (a trip which took about 35 minutes) towards the shark and ray feeding site (located offshore in between the InterContinental and Les Tipaniers hotels). As we approached the site, I could see 4 boats of our size anchored. A large group of giggly teens were shrieking as several Polynesian men brought curious stingrays close to visitors.

After anchoring we were escorted into the water without any specific instruction as to how to handle the creatures. While I now know in retrospect that they are indeed very safe, it would have been nice to have been given a quick "tutorial" on the stingrays prior to interacting with them. My wife (who is much more squeamish than I) was literally freaking out when a handler escorted several rays near her. The tour operators must have thought this was somewhat comical, as her screams enticed several other guides to approach with rays, in addition to our group's videographer. While the rays obviously caused her no harm, some type of basic instruction would have eased her nerves and been appreciated prior to entering the water. After everyone in our boat had entered the water, I would have to guess that a minimum of 200 guests were swimming with the rays. The entire experience seemed very touristy and not unique.

The shark feeding was not much better. Everyone approached a group of guides who began to throw some fish into the water. Guests were instructed to look underwater as the sharks grabbed the bait. Whoop-dee-doo.

The lunch on the private motu was the best part of the excursion and easily made up for its $65 value. Keep in mind, however, that the term "private" motu is misleading, as several other tour companies also hold their lunch here. A huge Polynesian BBQ is held, complete with demonstrations on how to make poisson cru and how to crack a coconut. Endless Hinano beer and rum punch are also included. The food is seriously awesome. Given how much lunch and alcohol go for at the resorts, $65 per person all of sudden made this excursion a great value.

The boat ride back was a little more exciting, as my wife and I managed to snag one of the few sun-exposed spots on the bow of the boat. The boat dropped us off directly at our hotel dock around 2:45pm.

Second recommendation: If you are considering an excursion such as this and are also going to Bora Bora, opt to do this is Bora Bora (I HIGHLY recommend Raanui Tours or Patrick's Maohi Nui tours). The boats will be smaller and more comfortable, the guides will be more personal, the water will be more beautiful and you will not be in the water with hundreds of other people. If you are insistent on doing an excursion such as this in Moorea, it is my guess that all of the tour companies offer very similar (if not identical) experiences, as all of them stopped at the same ray/shark feeding spot and made lunch on the same motu. Therefore it would be wise to go with the company which offers the best price (Albert's in our case).

Riverside...
posts: 40
1. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

now im not so sure that i want to do this when we go in september. over crowded does not seem fun at all... wonder if i should cancel this and do the lagoonarium?

Costa Mesa...
posts: 204
reviews: 22
2. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

I heard Liki Tiki (Hiro's tour) is smaller operation but seems to go to the same locations as Albert's so ended up being with people from Albert's... I'm wondering if we should book it or not...

Evanston, Illinois
posts: 148
reviews: 18
3. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

I know there will be a lot of people who disagree with me, but both my wife and I simply weren't impressed with this obviously very popular tour. I'm 100% certain that Hiro's goes to the same site and 99% certain that all other major tour operators go to the same site. With this being the case, the high volumes of visitors make the entire experience seem very impersonal and touristy. My beef therefore isn't with Albert's per se, but with this type of excursion in general. I simply wouldn't recommend it from any tour operator on Moorea. I think exploring the island by rental car and checking out the Lagoonarium would be a MUCH better use of precious time and money.

If you are dead set on swimming with sharks and rays and are also going to Bora Bora, DEFINITELY skip this experience in Moorea and do one of the numerous Shark/Ray Feeding tours in Bora Bora (namely Raanui or Maohi Nui), as they are far more personal. You will be on a smaller boat and will not be competing with literally 100 other tourists. The waters of Bora Bora are also far more beautiful than the waters of Moorea.

Just my 2 cents. I'm curious as to if anyone else feels the same way I do, especially when compared to similar tours in Bora Bora?

Las Vegas, NV
Destination Expert
for French Polynesia, Moorea
posts: 4,920
reviews: 5
4. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

The tours (both Hiro's and Albert's) on Moorea can be very crowded or not at all. I've been on them many times where there have only been 10-12 people on the boat...and I've been a times with 45. It depends what time of year and it depends if there is a cruise ship in port or not. I usually go off season and I ALWAYS ask what days the cruise ships are in....I avoid those days!

Toronto, Ontario
posts: 430
reviews: 11
5. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

I had the exact same experience with Alberts on Moorea...nothing wrong with Alberts tour, just didn't like being hauled around with hundreds of other tourists.

Before we did this tour, we had done Motu Picnics on several other islands (including Raanui Tours in Bora Bora) all of which were spectacular (small boats, excellent guides, amazing snorkeling and shark/ray experiences). Unfortunately because of the size of the group and the fact that you join so many other boats at all the main attractions (sharks, rays, lunch motu) it gets to be just overcrowded and what we felt was not enjoyable.

Like the original poster's wife, I also felt very uncomfortable in the water with the rays on this tour (even though I had done this about 4 times on other islands) I think because there were so many people in the water at the same time. I never knew if it was a ray touching me or some guys foot. I ended up getting back on the boat and waiting to leave for lunch.

I will, however, highly recommend doing the ATV tour in Moorea! If you are going to Bora Bora or any of the other islands, save the motu picnic for there and do the ATV tour on Mo'orea!

Evanston, Illinois
posts: 148
reviews: 18
6. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

Absolutely agree 100%.

Riverside...
posts: 40
7. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

I just canceled our tour and are only doing atv ans jet ski tour. Im sure we will do the lagoonarium one day when ever we feel like it.

Costa Mesa...
posts: 204
reviews: 22
8. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

@LVPatti, is there anyway to know when the Cruise ship will be in Moorea before we leave to our trip? Our trip is in 2.5 weeks and I'd love to find out so we can plan things ahead... Thanks always!

Las Vegas, NV
Destination Expert
for French Polynesia, Moorea
posts: 4,920
reviews: 5
9. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

I have no idea how to find out ahead of time. I just ask the tour operator early during my stay what is a good low volume day based on the reservations they currently have and what is a cruise ship day.

Costa Mesa...
posts: 204
reviews: 22
10. Re: Review of Albert's Lagoon Tour 7/17

Thank you, LVPatti!!

I'll ask Albert's once we are there.