Plymouth National Aquarium Reviews
Worth a visit if your in the area Nov 28, 2011
The National Aquarium is Britain's biggest aquarium with Europe's deepest tank. There are plenty of attractions to make it really memorable for kids of all ages. The Aquarium is divided into 4 main zones: Plymouth Sound, British Coasts, Atlantic Ocean and Blue Planet. A visit to the aquarium takes you on a journey from the local waters of Plymouth across the world to the Great Barrier Reef. There is also the Discovery Zone where children can go to learn about the sea life, make models and fish and do drawings of the things they have seen around the aquarium.
The huge tank which is situated in an auditorium is very impressive, but even more breathtaking is a tank with a replica WWII plane wreck in it which is home to sharks, rays and a range of other fish. Part of this tank curves over your head so you can see the sharks swim right over you. Small ultraviolet lit tanks with almost transparent jellyfish floating in them are also quite interesting.
The restaurant is quite small and the café wasn’t open (on a Saturday at 2pm) so we had to wait about half an hour for a table to become available. There is an outdoor picnic area for when the warmer weather hits and the restaurant has a soft play area which much to the disappointment of my little nephew, was closed for safety reasons when we visited.
There is a big focus on marine conservation and the place is really geared towards educating kids on how they can look after the environment, the staff there are also excellent, many of whom are students studying postgrad courses at the local university and all of the people working there who I spoke too seemed really enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
After visiting previous aquariums, I would say that the national marine aquarium rates fairly highly, many of the others I visited seemed rather tacky and false with employees who couldn’t tell a shark from a jellyfish, the exhibits were much more interesting and far better designed than a few others (*cough*the one in London *cough*), and after walking around the place, it is nice to be able to step straight out onto Plymouths barbican area which has a lot of great pubs and bars (and some of the best fish and chip shops in the area) and enjoy a nice frosty pint.
One of the big downsides was the price, with ‘adults’ over 15 (I’m getting pretty sick of companies setting the adult age lower and lower) having to pay £11.50, kids between 5 and 15 paying £7 and kids 4 or under going free families can purchase a family ticket for £32. There are also student and OAP discounts available. For locals, one of the redeeming features about having to pay this (pretty expensive for what you get) fee is that you are free to return at any point in the next 12 months without having to purchase any more tickets.
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