Bora Bora Pacific Tahiti Travel

Swimming with Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

The name Bora Bora evokes images of tranquil turquoise lagoons, transparent waters lapping beneath opulent huts and a conglomeration of lavish resorts. Tahiti’s most coveted island also hints at an abundant marine life and is unequivocally a choice of holiday to some discerning luxury travellers.

While a conservation holiday may not be the main purpose to visit the French Polynesian island, guests staying at Le Meridien Bora Bora have the opportunity to swim with endangered turtles in the resort’s private lagoon.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Le Meridien hosts a sanctuary for the endangered sea creatures after a guest had rescued and brought in an injured turtle to the resort. Under a program by the local Ministry and the Delegation of the Environment, green turtles or chelonia mydas, (the green colour refers to the colour of its fat) are cared for by a team which includes marine biologists, devoted to their nurture and treatment.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora BoraTurtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

During a tour of the facility, we learn that many of the turtles are born in the sanctuary. They are raised there until they are three years old before they get tagged and released.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora BoraTurtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

In Tahitian tradition, turtles (honu in Tahitian) are considered to be a culinary delicacy. Hunting them fetches a good sum of money. So in an effort to educate younger generations about the preservation of the species, local children are encouraged to adopt these turtles. They receive updates on their growth and progress and can visit the turtles on the resort. When the time comes for the turtles to be released into the wider ocean, the children are invited to attend a ceremony.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Anecdotal evidence told us that the approach is somewhat successful. Children have been known to refuse eating turtles served at Tahitian feasts and celebrations, often causing friction with their parents for breaking some of the long-kept traditions.

While we are able to swim with them, we are warned not to feed them or touch them as the acidity from our skin can be harmful to them.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

The turtles are naturally curious and approached us in the lagoon on several occasions. They cannot stay submerged for long periods and they need to come up for air every so often. We watched them poke their heads out of the water and exhale audibly, making a cute sound not unlike humans.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Our stay at Le Meridien Bora Bora confirmed that we have found our place in paradise. Swimming in the interior lagoon surrounded by these beautiful and friendly sea creatures was an experience that had a lasting effect on us, an inexplicable bond between humans and turtles.

The photographs below were taken with a disposable underwater camera.

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Turtles at Le Meridien Bora Bora

Le Méridien Bora Bora Turtles
PO Box 190 Vaitape
French Polynesia


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • So cool!  Wow, what an amazing experience.
    And, I just read your new author bio and am thrilled to hear that you are writing a novel.  I am very curious as to what it’s about.  🙂

    • Akila, it was the highlight of our stay in Bora Bora. Swimming with the turtles daily was so therapeutic.

      Thank you 🙂 I’ve had the author bio for some time, thought I might give a little more insight about me 🙂

  • there is a “turtle hospital” a little north of here, in North Carolina, that rescues sea turtles and rehabilitates them for release.  They are endangered and there really aren’t many around here in general, except in our summer when the females come ashore to lay their eggs. No swimming with them, as far as I know..
    Thanks for sharing this – what a great experience this must be and your photos are lovely!

    • Margo, that’s so good to know that they have a shelter home. Thank you for sharing the information here. I guess the Bora Bora resort isn’t exactly mass tourism and the lagoons are quite large in size. The turtles can roam free and see to enjoy getting close to humans so the resort allows guests to enjoy them in their habitat.

      Thank you for your comment about the photos 🙂

  • Ok, so you’ve been to all the places I want to go. Sigh.
    Such gorgeous photos of an amazing luxurious experience. Hope I get to Bora Bora one day..

    • Forager, not all places, I’m sure 🙂
      Thank you. The photos are unspoilt as Bora Bora, no photoshop necessary. The place is that beautiful.