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Tricked by A Bali Cab Driver: Turtle Island Bali

After a few years on the road I usually manage to avoid tourist traps. This time I was completely caught off guard though. A painful mistake that wasted about half of my day.

I was staying in Bali with two of my buddies, Andreas and Vincenzo. We wanted to check out some cool spots on the islands. A friend of Vincenzo had recently visited the island and recommended a taxi driver to us. He had taken him around the island before and he had a great day.

We hadn’t done much research about where we wanted to go exactly but we knew the area around Ubud had some interesting sites. Hence, we told the driver to head towards Ubud, a 45-minute drive from our base in Seminyak. The taxi driver recommended that we check out an island called “Turtle Island.” “I’ve always wanted to go to Turtle Island!!!” Andreas responded. “It’s supposed to be an amazing, serene island perfect for snorkeling and spotting turtles!”

Are you planning to do a tour to Turtle Island in Bali?

I don’t recommend it, read on to find out why…

The driver ensured us that the island was on the way to Ubud so we wouldn’t lose much time. We quickly agreed and off we were! The drive took a lot longer than expected, well over an hour, which made me a bit suspicious.

It was not until arriving when the alarm bells really started ringing. The beach was packed with tourists, with countless hawkers competing for their attention. The ocean was covered with jet skies, banana boats and paragliders.

Tanjung Benoa

We were let into a house where we were presented with a menu of watersport activities and tours. Not exactly what we were looking for. “We want to go to Turtle Island,” we responded.

It turned out we were in luck. The tour guide offered us a boat ride to the island on a glass bottom boat plus a guided tour of the island for a mere $50 a person, down from the normal price of $60! This seemed rather overpriced for essentially a 15-minute boat ride, but according to the tour guide this was justified because it was a special price, we were his friends and gasoline prices had been going up a lot.

We politely passed on the offer. Instead, we walked to the beach to find someone with a boat who could drop us off. After the usual negotiation phase, we settled on $10 a person. As an added bonus, we were taken on the glass boat so we would see lots of awesome fish on the way.

When the island came in sight it became clear it wasn’t the serene island that Andreas had in mind. The island was teeming with activity, tourists and boats arriving and taking off. No natural beauty in sight. We hopped off the boat to discover the cheesiest, tackiest and saddest tourist trap I’ve ever witnessed.

Turtle Island

A variety of animals were being held in small, dirty cages. The animals seemed to be drugged and were taken out by the staff for the tourists to take pictures, for a fee of course. The worst thing is, the island is a so-called “Turtle Sanctuary.” Supposedly, the purpose of the island was to raise turtles in a safe environment, away from predators, to be released into the wild when old enough.

Turtle Island Animals

When we got back to the taxi, we asked to be taken to Ubud. The driver informed us that it would take over two hours to get there. What? It was only 45 minutes from our original location! I checked Google maps. He had taken us in the complete opposite direction!

We had literally been taken for a ride. The driver wanted to take us to this tourist area because he gets a commission for every $ we would spend. He later admitted to us that the tour operators where his “partners.”

We basically wasted half of our day. I felt quite silly falling for the taxi driver’s tricks. When we got back to our villa we looked up the real Turtle Island. It turned out to be in Fiji and indeed an amazing place.

Tripadvisor Ratings for Turtle Island Bali

I took a look at Tripadvisor. Turned out we weren’t the first ones to get tricked. Countless reviews warned visitors about the trap. We had learned our lesson.

The area that we had been taken to turned out to be called “Tanjung Benoa.” If you go to Bali, make sure to avoid this place, known as Turtle Island Bali! Instead, check out places like Ubud, Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Kintamani and Gunung Agung!

Accommodation tip: One of the most unique hotels in the world is the Hanging Gardens in Ubud. It’s not cheap, but it will be an experience you will never forget. The hotel is surrounded by jungle and features multiple elevated infinity pools (see picture here). You can book here.

Taxi service tip On my latest trip to Bali I used a company called Bali Cab. Their service was excellent, highly recommended!

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it. If you have any questions, comment below and I will respond as soon as possible! You can also sign up for my newsletter and get notified about new posts.

Comment Section

46 thoughts on “Tricked by A Bali Cab Driver: Turtle Island Bali

By Stefanie on 9 July 2013

Never trust a taxi driver 😉

By Jasper Ribbers on 21 July 2013

Yeah unfortunately that is true. This guy was recommended to us though so I trusted him :-S

By Ridzwan Hj Dol on 15 November 2013

Thanks for the info., supposed to go there this Dec as recommended by a friend. I might have to review my decision to visit the place. Thanks buddy.

By Jasper Ribbers on 15 November 2013

Hi Ridzwam thanks for stopping by. Yeah I think you’d be better off checking out places like Ubud, Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Kintamani and Gunung Agung!

By Adhi on 5 April 2016

Hi Jasper,.. thank you very much for your info about the nice place in Bali, but how about “tanah lot” what do you recommend about taht place? tq

By Jasper on 6 April 2016

Hi Adhi, I haven’t been to Tanah Lot so I can’t really comment on it. I really liked Ubud though!

By Noucky Koole on 13 October 2016

Too many tourists!!!
Just lookt it up on a Picture. Its a beautiful site but not worth to visit any More since it’s so packed.

By hafiz on 11 December 2013

Thanks for your info man.. i thought of bringing my 2 sons to watch the turtles.. alot of bad reviews!

By Carolin on 14 February 2014

Try the Gili Islands (part of Lombok) for turtle spotting should you travel that way again. Or maybe you have already. Especially Meno is a wonderfully quiet island!

By Jasper Ribbers on 14 February 2014

Agreed Carolin, I did go to Gili after my Bali visit. Wonderful islands!

By Dave from sweden on 2 March 2014

Hello !

You can get to the “Turtle Island”, real name serangan Island, by car from the jalan bypassroad.
There is a bridge connecting bali Island and the serangan Island, just take a car or moped and drive there, very easy.
Check google maps.

You guys just experienced a SCAM, welcome to indonesia 😉

BTW : i want to make a warning about the gilli islands, they are what you would call a Tourist trap.
Be careful when you go there, many scammers on these islands.
Even the boat guys can try to scam you about your speedboat tickets, saying something like aaa there is no speedboat today, only slow boat and you have to change your tickets. SCAM !!!!

live long and prosper , Peace out

By Jasper Ribbers on 2 March 2014

Hey Dave, thanks for the advice. You’re right about Gili, they tried to scam us there too but fortunately we didn’t fall into that trap! 🙂

By Galen on 23 April 2014

I spent a month in and around Bali and the Gillis last year and ‘Turtle Island’ was BY FAR the worst and saddest part of my entire journey. I’m glad to see that someone else has expressed similar sentiments. Avoid at all costs! This is NOT the proper Turtle Island.

By Jasper Ribbers on 23 April 2014

Hey Galen, thanks for the comment. Good to see you’re also spreading the word about this.

By Lana on 4 June 2014

Good read, we just had a taxi driver recommend turtle island for tomorrow. Pass! Thanks Jasper

By Jasper Ribbers on 5 June 2014

Yeah! It makes me so happy to know that this post has at least prevented one person from wasting her time :).

By han on 11 June 2014

Hi all,
You guys are absolutely right, this the second time we go to Bali, and we don’t trust a taxi driver! Instead of cab, we took private car for day, it cost us $60. And I know this driver name Jack, his origin is from Jakarta, he tell us everything about tourist trap there. But finally, he show us all the cheapest such as Cafe Jimbaran, he show us some place at the corner of jimbaran that we can eat all seafood for cheapest price. We only spent $40 for 3 person, include 3 lobsters, lot of fishes, prawns, crabs! Thanks

By Jasper Ribbers on 13 June 2014

Hey Han, thanks for sharing this, glad to hear you had a good experience.

By esther leong on 21 November 2014

hello han

i cud nt find *cafe jimbaran* in google. any suggestions? known by another name perhaps? tq 4 ur post !

By James on 25 June 2014

We were just there today and also went past the tour companies and went directly to the boat owners for USD$20 for two people.

The turtle farm house was a bit crappy but for an entrance cost of USD$1 I thought it’s good for the price. Plus, we could play with the large turtles and that was fun.

By Jasper Ribbers on 30 June 2014

Hey James, good job not getting ripped off, good advice to people who do want to check it out, although I wouldn’t recommend it even if it were free.

By James Yoon on 9 September 2014

Thank god, Jasper… I just read this right now when I am in Bali and WAS planning to go there with my wife and two sons tomorrow morning by ourselves. I definately have to change my plan for tomorrow. Thank you for the tip and sharing it with people it really helps. ^^

By Jasper Ribbers on 12 September 2014

Hi James, I’m glad that I was able to save you a disappointment. That means my time wasn’t wasted at least 🙂 Enjoy Bali!

By Marianne from Denmark on 3 November 2014

I just wish I had read this before yesterday, where I went to Turtle Island. It was awfully, and I’m so sad for the turtles and the other animals. I have been in Bali before and around the most of the Island, and this is a reproach to Bali. I hope I can find a Way to get this out to people so it can be stopped.
Thanks for a good site.

Best regards

By Jasper Ribbers on 3 November 2014

That’s too bad Marianne, next time do your homework! ;-P Just kidding, thanks for commenting and hope you had a good time in Bali in spite of being fooled like me!

By Sherri on 10 January 2015

I have used the same private driver for the past 4 years when I go to Bali. Have also recommended him to many others. I wont put his details here as I am not sure if I am allowed to. If I can, reply and I will add it !! He has a Facebook page with much info.

By shelley on 7 November 2015

Hi..looking for trustworthy cab driver in bali..thanks

By cwhite on 17 January 2015

Hi,i’m chinese indonesian. Well,even me never trust any taxi driver or real local here cause sometimes they tricked us for money.i never want go to bali cause I think better go to other country than spend my money in bali for vacation..
And for indonesian ppls out there who like to tricked ppls i guess u should shame of urself!!!!!

By Sara on 27 March 2015

Turtle island is horrible. I actually cried as soon as i saw the state of the enclosures the animals are kept in, the lack of vegetation, clean water and being dragged out of the water every 5 minutes for a photo with tourists. its heartbreaking. i’m no animal activist but my heart hurt for these poor animals.

same for the poor animals in the coffee producing places. such small cages, no vegetation or anything. can barely turn around in their cages. everything in bali that can be exploited it, i understand people need to make a living but the animals need to be looked after not used and abused.

By Jasper Ribbers on 3 April 2015

Yeah it’s a disgrace, I hope they’ll go out of business soon.

By Mark on 21 April 2015

Well said.

By Mark on 21 April 2015

Just visited turtle island. It was disgusting and very upsetting for my daughters that I refused to enter the compound and left as soon as I could. I refused to pay the entrance fee and have totally changed my attitude towards Bali. This place should be shut immediately.

By Jasper Ribbers on 21 April 2015

Agreed Mark, hope you were still able to enjoy other parts of Bali. I just visited a few weeks ago and had a really good time in Ubud.

By Michelle on 1 September 2015

Thanks the review was extemely helpful, if I had gone to Turtle Island I would have been very distressed to see caged and suffering animals. Safe travels ?

By Suzi on 17 September 2015

Just booked with reception at hotel for turtle island trip today and thought id google prices prior to paying driver. Found this gem page. Cancelled our tour immediately. So pleased we didn’t go. Thank you.
I am tired of drivers prospering for visits to places we are not that interested in.
I am loving Bali though!!❤️

By Jasper on 18 September 2015

Glad I was able to save you that experience! 🙂

By Vicki Lloydsmith on 24 September 2015

Thanks for sharing like mindeds!!! We went to Supposed Turtle Island last month and the amount of cruelty there was terribly distressing!! A poor sea eagle in a tiny cage being yelled at by the attendees ubtil he squarked softly back at them! Fizens if ” never to be released turtles of all agees and sizes in concrete tubs, all without anything like a rock for them to stand on!!! The snakes were hidden away in boxes with STICKY TAPE AROUND THEIR MOUTHS!!! So they couldnt bite I was told, but of course , they cant eat either!!! A PATHETICALLY MISERABLE PLACE FOR ALL THE POOR ANIMALS HELD CAPTIVE THERE!!! THEY NEED TO BE SAVED, RESCUED AND PUT INTO A SANCTUARY AND THE TURTLES NEED TO BE RELEASED INTO THE SEA!!! DISGUSTING PLACE AND OVER RUN WITH CORRUPTION AND CRUELTY!!!

By Jasper on 15 November 2015

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Vicki.

By lilnurie on 8 December 2015

Turtle Island is out of my list.

By Sevda on 17 March 2016

This just happened to us today. A cab driver took us there. The worst experience I had on holiday. Poor animals. 😕

By Carolyn Symonds on 9 August 2016

after reading the reviews of turtle island I will not visit there after being recommended on my web site to visit. The Indonesion govt. should shut it down.

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