“ Address: Passeig de Pau Casals, 65 / Vilaseca (Beyond Barcelona) / Telephone : 977 37 16 40 „
Aquopolis is a waterpark along the seafront of La Pineda in Salou, Spain. My partner and I visited last June as it was right next to the hotel we were staying at. It's easy to find and I believe that you can get a bus from Salou but I would look into this before buying your tickets.
As I bought the tickets online before we went on holiday it was a bit cheaper than usual and we got a deal where we could visit for two days. The tickets for both of us came to about 50 euros, this seems expensive but this also included the dolphin show which in my opinion was worth the price of the ticket alone. Look out for the hidden extras though; we ended up paying 10 euros for a locker to store our stuff in and another 10 for the hire of the rubber rings (you do get some of the money back at the end of the day). The hire of the rubber rings was a waste as you can only use them on a couple of the rides and we found out that if you don't mind waiting you can queue up at the end of the rides and collect a rubber ring without paying, the hire basically just gives you the luxury of not having to wait in these queues but is waste of money in my opinion.
The park itself was very clean and tidy and attractive looking, there are plenty of grassy areas covered by trees for sunbathing or picnics as well as benches scattered around. There are a fair few slides including a lazy river, a coloured slide where you race people to the bottom, a slide where you sit on a mat and various tunnelled, twisty slides. There were loads of attractions to go on and the queues were quite short which meant we could go on them again and again. There are also a couple of swimming pools where you can just swim and laze around and one with a wave machine.
I was disappointed to find that the Jacuzzis weren't in operation as I was looking forward to being able to relax but as went in off-peak season it was expected that some attractions would be closed.
For me the absolute best part of the visit to Aquopolis was the dolphin show, they have several a day and have announcements so you know when the next one will be. There is no extra to pay to see the dolphin show and you can go and see it as many times as you want in your day. The show consists of several dolphins doing amazing tricks and they look like they absolutely love doing them, their charming and a pleasure to watch. They also bring out two sea lions which also do several tricks such as waving at the crowd. You have the opportunity to have your photo taken with the sea lions at the end of the show but this again is costly.
Also in the park is a gift shop selling the typical souvenir gifts and a couple of food places which we didn't use as we had brought a picnic with us.
Overall we really enjoyed our visit to Aquopolis waterpark but watch out for the hidden costs!
Aquapolis - where is it
Aquapolis is on the outskirts of a town called La Pineda and Spain's Costa Dorada and is a short bus ride away from the main town centre of Salou. During our previous 2 years holidays we have been to Salou and visited Aquapolis on both occasions.
Arriving at Aquapolis - the local busses stop next to the park and a short walk though local market stalls and small shops which form part of the front of the park you arrive at the entrance. The entrance is in the middle of the market stalls but is easy to spot. We arrived at about 11am and where surprised that there we no big queues to get in and where soon in the park itself. I am not going to bore you with the price tariff as it changes anyway so not really useful.
When you 1st enter the park you have you map showing where the security boxes are, there is a deposit required for these and there are different types. You can have a locker type which you would find in a local gym or swimming pool or a safety deposit type as you would find in a hotel room, if you require both then you have to pay a deposit for each plus the hire fee. It is definitely worth having a locker at least as this saves you carting everything around the park with you. These are also located just to the left of the main entrance.
Standing just inside the main entrance I was surprised to see how well laid out the park looked as was not all concrete and water rides but was very well planted with trees for natural shade and lots of grassy areas where you could just sit and sun bathe. Now I would recommend that you do not walk around in bare feet as the concreted areas get very hot as you would imagine in the sun and you could burn the bottom of your feet if not careful.
Walking through the park we passed a large wave pool, we where checking the map as we walked and looking for a good spot to start form and also where to hire the big yellow doughnut rings that everyone seemed to have.
Continuing along there was another pool area which did not look very deep, one of those ones where it is as if you are walking into the sea where the colour and texture of the bottom changes as you walk along. The deepest part of this was just over waist high. On the other side was a normally (drop in from the sides) type of pool with lots of the slides situated around it, will get to them later, and food courts where you could buy snacks and drinks. Here also there was a patio area where you could sit on your hired sun bed (lots of things to pay for in here) and what the world go buy or soak up some rays.
Finally we get to the kiosk where you can hire the rubber rings, and sunbeds though would suggest that you get there early if you want one of the these as they do run out of them during peak times. Again you had to pay a deposit for each ring and as we wanted 4 of them, one for each member of our party this was getting costly, yes you get it back but normally if going to somewhere like this we carry a limited amount of cash and not plastic for obvious reasons as even with a safety deposit box you are not guaranteed security for your belongings.
After much debate and discussion and counting of money, would we have enough for drinks etc we went for it as there are only a limited number of rides that these can be used on anyway and the plan was to go on those 1st and return the rings, get the deposit back and then go on the rest of the rides where rings are not required. Just to let you know that the park do have their own blue rings on each of the rides for you to use if you don't hire one or they have run out but be prepared to wait for one of these as they are not plentiful.
Now to the 1st ride.
This was called the Boomerang, kids where heading straight for it, decided that didn't look too bad and would join them. Now this ride is strange as looks rather like a half pipe but not as semi-circle in shape and with extremely high sides. As we where climbing up the stairs to the ride as was getting concerned that it look at lot more scary and steeper than it did on the ground. Now it was our turn. The lads went 1st and there where screams of delight or maybe it was terror as they descended and then shot up the other side of this giant U shaped ride, and back again and up the other side and so on until you end up in what could only be described as the gutter at the bottom and then into the pool with a splash finally.
Now for us girlies, not as brave as the lads, I was not beginning to wonder what on earth had possessed to have ago. The attendant at the top holds you ring whilst you climb into it. This rings have grab handles for you to hold onto and oh boy do you need them, believe me when I say that this is far steeper than it looks from the ground. Off I go, shoot down one side of the U at tremendous speed and up the other side, having watched lots of children go before me and forgetting that they are a lot smaller than me a shot a lot further up the other side then I expected to the point I was beginning to wonder whether I would slow down in time before I ran out of ride and shot off the top, but gravity prevailed and saved me - I now know why there was a weight restriction on this ride, did wonder at the time and I am sure that I was a lot further away from the top than I though I was and I must say apart from that small moment of panic I actually really enjoyed it but not enough to get me back on it again.
2nd ride - one for mum
The lazy river.
This was more like it, needed to give my heart a chance to recover. The lazy river itself is not really that long but is very enjoyable. The hardest part is getting on your ring in the water at the beginning of the ride and then getting to the starting point amongst everyone else who is trying to float towards the start. At 1st there is a gently slope/slide down to a pooled area, and this theme continues all the way down to the bottom. There is an attendant in each pooled area who ensure that you keep moving and push you down the next slope/slide bit and splash the kids if the kids splash them. Great fun and very relaxing at the same time, a few more goes on this one was called for.
Now not being a great lover of rides in the dark I declined the ride called the black hole as listening to the terrified screams of other riders was enough for me. However, just to tell you a bit about it, you ride in a double ring, like a figure of 8 so two people can go at a time, so you can both be scared witless at the same time, oh joy.
For me I was done with the rings and there really was not a lot more to use them on so, they where returned and deposits claimed, drinks bought at the kiosk - prices about what you would expect to pay at any theme park and we opted for a couple of cans of fresh juice to perk us up. We did not buy any food but the pizza seemed popular as there where lots of people ordering this whilst we where in the queue.
Next we set off back towards the entrance to see what time the next dolphin show was and did we have to pay. Pleasantly surprised that the show was actually included in the price of the entrance fee to the park and noted that there was a show at 4pm which would be a nice way to end the day. Off for more rides before swimming with Sea Lions and then Dolphin show.
There is one ride which can only be described as an aerial runway over water, you hold on and then set off over the pool - extra deep here about 3 meters- the ropes are slightly angled so that you can build up some speed as you travel. About half way across the pool there is a block in on the ropes which you slam into, fall off and land in the water. Now this was great fun both to watch and to do, but the queue was very long. The park had filled up by this point and was very busy. Now as the saying goes the bigger you are the harder you fall is truly correct for this ride and also there is a minimum height you have to be to be able to use it, if you can't get hold of the handles then you are too small basically.
Just so you know that some of the food kiosks have covered seating areas next to them so you can get out of the sun and sit in some shade and we took advantage of this a couple of times during the day along with sitting on the grass under some trees which was very pleasant as you can find lots of places to sit away from the centre of the park where the rides are.
We did notice a large pool area for younger children which had some small slides but as my 2 are too big for that we did not inspect too closely but it did not look very deep at all.
There are announcements given for when the wave pool is about to start and also for when the next dolphin show is about to start, however, I would say that if you are going to watch the dolphin show arrive with plenty of time to spare even if you have to queue outside before they open the gates as you may end up without a seat in the shade.
The Dophin show - no additional fee, included in entrance price
The seating itself is sort what I would describe as stone steps and there is some shade depending on the time of day, angle of the sun etc. and comfortable to sit on, the main display pool is completely glass fronted apart form where the glass panels are joined together so you can see the dolphins and sealions swimming under water which is fantastic.
The show is not there just of a 'circus act' for the public but it is one of a couple of dolpinariums in Spain that are concerned with conservation and protection of the species. I was extremely impressed with the facilities that the dolphins had and whilst the introduction bits where being done you could see the dolphins in rear pool happily playing and showing off and it appeared that they looked excited that the show was about to start. The show itself was very well organized with the 1st part being give over to 2 sea lions who where extremely good at showing off and obviously very well looked after judging by how lively they where and their general appearance.
There are 3 dolphins that are resident here and I must say it was a really good show with the sort of tricks you would expect, jumping out of the water, through hoops and also 1 child from the audience gets to participate, they have to sit in a boat, life jacket is provided of course, and the dolphins push the boat from one side of the water to the other. The trainers, as there is more than one, also get in the water with the dolphins and have and obvious close relationship with them
At the end of the show there is an opportunity to have your photo taken with a sea lion, where counting money again at this point, I think it was 10 Euros for a photo, the sea lion really enjoyed this as was fed lots of fish and also 'kissed' everyone in the queue.
In 2006 we had photos with the Sea Lions but in 2007 went one better, we spotted on the list of excursions that our holiday rep had 'swiming with Sea Lions' well we just couldn't let this opportunity slip by and paid for both of the children to have this experience and at Euro 45 each was not the cheapest of days out, plus the entrance to the water park as this attraction is within Aquopolis itself.
Swimming with Sea Lions
We had our time slot booked for 3pm which was ideal as we arrived at the park around 10.30 to 11am which gave us plently of time to experience the rides before having to report to the main reciption 15 minutes prior to our booking time.
The pool where you can swim with the Sea Lions is away from the main hustle and bustle of the park and completely blocked from any prying eyes who have not paid for the experience. You are met at the gate by the trainers and invted into the pool, parents can spectate from around the edge. There where 10 children to this session which was a fair number, not too many to look overcrowded.
The complete session with the Sea Lions lasts 45 minutes and includes meeting and greeting different Sea Lions, learn to do some tricks with the Sea Lions, all of which is photographed at the far side of the pool where there is no spectating. Tricks where turning a circle with the Sea Lion by touhing his nose and truning around slowly in a circle with the Sea Lion following your hand. Standing at the edge of the pool and having the larger of the Sea Lions swim underwater and jump up to kiss you on the cheek, Jumping through a hoop that you are holding and jumping over your head.
All safety aspects where explained before the Sea Lions where introduced and every action that was to happen was explained clearly before the tricks where performed. Photos of course where purchased as a memory of the day and every penny was worth it but it did turn into an expensive day out.
All in all if you ever visit Salou on holiday I would recommend this for a day out as it great fun for all the family
Other attractions within the park we did not bother with are trampolines, mini-golf and a gift shop.
We went here about a year ago with my 3 teenage sons and baby daughter and other friends.
The first thing I should say is it is not actually in Barcelona, but about an hour's drive away in La Pineda (Vila-seca), south of Tarragona, on the N340.
There are lots of outdoor pools, slides, etc which older children/teenagers in particular can really have fun with. There are many grassy area where you can sunbathe etc, but of course what people do is arrive and spread all their towels out on a spot and camp there for the day, so if you didn't arrive in plenty of time you would struggle to find a good spot. There is plenty of space but a lot of it is either in the sun all day (not good) or a long way from the pools, so you can't see your children, also not good. so get there fairly early and get a good spot!
There are some helter skelter type slides with bumps in them the older boys especially enjoyed, but at busy times you had to queue for them. There is also one really fast one called Kamikazi, and the queues were serious for that one, but apparently you did 50km per hour down that one! That's the speed of a moped on full throttle! The whole park is massive, and you can't see across it, so in terms of younger children you do have to be careful because they can wander off.. There was a good range of types of water - some with fountains and some with smaller slides and splash pools; there was not a huge area if just wanted to swim lengths though - everything was shaped but you could swim round and round a bit with a current that wove around the whole park.
I spent some quite good quality time by myself just lying in the sun reading, knowing my kids were all having fun and not bored or bothering me!
There are many places to eat and drink providing welcome shade and cold beer! Some traditional Spanish food can be had in pone bar and and nasty burgers and chips in another, so my recommendation if you are staying nearby and self-catering is to bring a cold box full of a packed lunch, but that's ont always practical on holiday, so it is good to know you can buy food there. It is a bit over-priced for the quality, but not a total rip off.
Beer and coke etc in large quanties are a good thing, and there are electric vending machines with ice cold bottles of water everywhere, which is great as there were queues at the bars at times. Certainly in Spanish heat in the summer you nee to ensure everyone stays hydrated, and sun-creamed, especially coming in and out of the water.
They also have things like minigolf and boats, and a pool with nets and rings and pulleys that looked a bit like you'd play water polo in it.
One gripe - I went into the baby pool with my son in my glasses (I am short-sighted) and they have a no-sunglasses in the popol rule. I could go in in my normal glasses, but I aslo have a pair of prescription sunglasses and I was not allowed to wear those. Given it was bright sunshine and I was tring to keep an eye on four children I really needed thaqm,. I explained to the guard that they were plastic sunglasses and therefore safe (i.e. ont glass lenses, but he was having none of it.) very irritating - after all I was standing up in a foot of water with a one year old. What harm were my sunglasses doing on my eyes?
We all had a great day - it isn't cheap but is a great day out, if your family like that sort of thing. It cost 22.5 Euros per adult, and children over 10 pay the adult price. Children 4-10 pay 16.5 Euros, but children under 4 are free, so that's good. There is a lot less for them to do though- they have one area, basically, but then watersports are not really a toddler thing, are they?
But add food and drinks on, and it will cost a bit. It is hard to bring your own water and just drink that and not be tempted by ice cold drinks when it is really hot. You also had to pay extra for parking, and the changing room.
Because everything is outdoors, it is only open from May to October.
A diversity of impressive water attractions for the whole family.