Newest Review: ... manner of fish and marine life are housed here. The big hitters of course are the Seals (which have a couple of live feeding shows p... more
Blue Reef Aquarium (England)
Member Name: Evie-x-
Blue Reef Aquarium (England)
Advantages: Child, disabled friendly, helpful staff, lots of activities, lovely outside area
Disadvantages: You have to exit through the gift shop
Bluereef Aquarium is found on the seafront in Portsmouth (opens at 10am). They do have a number of other Aquariums located across the country. It is very similar to what you would find at one of Merlin's sealife attractions without the huge payout.
It is very easy to travel to by car, hovercraft or bus, the train station is about a mile and a half away. There is plenty of parking although it can be very busy during the summer months. Parking is paid at a parking metre and is free for blue badge holders.
The Bluereef Aquarium is very disabled/buggy friendly. As you enter the Aquarium you are greeted by friendly, helpful staff. It is here that you pay for your entry, they also stamp your hand so that can come& go all day which is useful as there a number of places that you could go out to eat.
Child 3-12yrs £7.50
Family of four- £32.50
( please check prices as the tunnel tank has been drained due to the need for emergency maintenance so they are offering a 20% discount off the above prices)
If you live close by it would be better value to buy an annual pass as you would only need to visit three times to make it worth while. Also with the annual pass you receive 10% off in the shop.
If you have small children it would worth asking to hire a stool. It is a £1 deposit and very handy to have with you. It is here that you can pick up information on times of feeds although they do announce when they are about to start in case you forget a leaflet. Also during the school holidays there are often topic weeks. This Easter holidays was Yuck! Week which my son and his friend loved. By the entrance is also a buggy park where you can leave your buggy if you don't want to take it around with you.
There are a number of large tanks around the Aquarium the Rays being very fun as they often splash water over the side. Little ones will love climbing up the steps to a platform that overlooks the Rays. I love that the Aquarium has thought about its little guests because often it is easy for them to see the fishy residents.
Seeing the Sharks swim close to the glass can be very exciting and there are plenty of places to view them so no worries if it is a busy day. You will see a number of jelly fish, seahorses , finding nemo (clown fish) and . . .I could go on & on! There is also a tunnel tank where you walk through and can see the fish all above you. At present this is empty so check before you go if you would find it disappointing not to see it full. Half way round you will also find some reptiles and the otters who are cute but very smelly!
There is a lot for children to do apart from viewing the fishy residents. Throughout the Aquarium you will find boards for children to do rubbings (ask at desk for crayons& paper), quiz questions on the walls with wooden flaps to lift and just before the gift shop there is a large blackboard with lots of chalk for your little ones to use. My sons favourite part of the Aquarium is the outside play area. By the Otters there is a door to a large outside area. Here you will find a little splash park with fountains shooting up jets of water, boulders to climb on, play sand and little plastic seesaws. There are also picnic benches here so if it is a nice day it would be well worth bringing lunch. Also by the Otters is where you will find the toilet facilities with a large baby changing area and disabled toilets.
Near the gift shop there is a room where you can often go and listen to a talk. Last week my son got to touch a starfish and a spider crab. There is often colouring sheets and crayons in here.
A word of warning and the part which annoys me is the gift shop. It is a lovely little gift shop but you have to walk through it to exit which when you you have a five year old is no fun! There is also a £1 a go children's ride and a Hurricane experience booth £2.
The Aquarium does have a cafe but it is located out the front so you will need to exit to reach this. Also next to it is a fish and chip shop. Although you are only a fifteen minute walk from a Brewers Fayre located at the funfair. There is often an ice-cream van parked up near the D-day museum. Of course if it is a nice day you might want to have a picnic which there lots of places for such as on the common opposite or on the beach.
The Aquarium has an awful lot to offer and well worth a visit if in Portsmouth. My final tip would be to visit on a sunny day as I find it is often quieter and you can make full use of the outside play area.
Summary: An interesting day out no matter the weather.