The Oceanarium: Bournemouth’s Aquarium.
The Oceanarium is located on Bournemouth Seafront adjacent to Bournemouth pier. On this particular visit we were staying at the Bournemouth Beach Lodges so didn’t need to worry about parking. However, when we have visited in the past we tend to park at the BIC carpark and walk 5 minutes to the aquarium.
It is a great aquarium with lots to see and do. However, it is important to know that it is not a huge aquarium. While you could spend a whole day wandering back and forth, we usually spend approximately 2 hours exploring. Having said that, it really is a must see attraction for young children and fortunately there is lots more to see and do in Bournemouth. To find out more about our family fun in Bournemouth you can read about our weekend stay here.
Despite being small there is still lots to see!
There are over 150 different types of fish to admire, including Bug’s favourites: sharks, sting rays, eels, jellyfish and a guitar fish! Bug is sea creature mad – he has many favourites, fortunately the Oceanarium had a lot of them. Not wanting to be left out, Mimi was also lucky enough to see her favourites too: turtles, penguins and otters!
There are a number of interactive displays, including a virtual dive cave where the children can learn all about sharks and dolphins.
Throughout the day there are opportunities to listen to an education talk and watch the feeding of a number of animals including: otters, turtles, sharks and penguins.
Within the Oceanarium you will also find a small children’s park which is aimed at younger children. This is always a great hit with our 2.
Towards the end of your trip you enter the Global Meltdown section. In this section there is a huge viewing window which allows an incredible view into the Great Barrief Reef and tunnel exhibition. However, most importantly, this section has a number of interactive displays to educate visitors on the impact of global warming and ways in which we can make a change to help.
Off Shore Cafe: located by the entrance. Serves hot and cold meals, snacks and a varied children’s menu – you can view this here.
Bay View terrace – located next to the penguin beach encounter. Although the menu is not as varied as the Off Shore Cafe, the views are incredible. On one side you have panoramic views of the bay and on the other, the penguin beach encounter.
The Cove Gift Shop – you walk directly into this as you exit the Oceanarium. There are a large selection of gifts available in a variety of price ranges.
Toilets and baby changing – located at the entrance and in the kids play zone. Most of the aquarium is accessible by buggy except the stairway at the entrance and the stairway down to the tunnel; however, a lift is available to use.
So how suitable was the Oceanarium for families with young children?
There are many, many creatures to admire with lots of large windows and floor to ceiling displays making viewing them very easy for young children. I will never tire of watching my children’s faces as they wander through the glass tunnel. The kid’s zone play area and children’s menus in the cafes are also a great hit!
On particularly rainy days at the weekend and during school holidays it can get very busy. As previously stated, it isn’t a huge aquarium so busy days can be quite stressful. Therefore if you plan to visit with your young family, choose your day or time carefully. Try to go midweek or arrive first thing in the morning or a couple of hours before closing. The entire aquarium can be explored in a couple of hours and then you can enjoy some of the many other attractions available in Bournemouth. Why not try mini golf in the Bournemouth gardens or one of our new favourite spots: the All Fired Up Cafe where you can get creative.
Big World Little Explorers were the guests of Bournemouth Tourism but all opinions are our own.