After watching Finding Dory recently I really wanted to go to an aquarium! I had some Tesco Clubcard points to use, so decided to redeem them and have a day out at Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings, East Sussex. We arrived at around 10:30am on a Tuesday morning, after deciding to go midweek in the hopes it would be quieter. This worked as we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves!
Arriving at Blue Reef Aquarium
Upon arrival we were met by a friendly member of staff. After purchasing our tickets we were given a receipt that allowed us to go in and out as much as we liked all day. This was very handy so that we could pop out for lunch and come back. The aquarium has various feeding times for the fish, so you could pop out for a bit and then head back in time for a certain feed. At reception there are also little steps to take around with you so children can see in to the tanks.
Our Favourite Sections
As you enter the various sections there are fish of all different shapes, colours and sizes. Lily carried her stall around and excitedly ran between tanks. A favourite of ours was the sting ray tank. It’s open so you can stand next to it and see the sting rays popping their heads out of the water. The tank also had a glass side to it so Lily could easily see inside. Another great addition to the aquarium was the octopus. I don’t think I have ever seen one in the flesh before, and I couldn’t believe how large it was as it spread out its tentacles. It’s amazing for children to see these things and learn all about the different creatures in the ocean.
Once past the octopus there is a small stairway that leads to a fantastic tunnel under the large ocean tank. You can see Black Tip Reef Sharks along with a large selection of other fish. It was great to be able to walk through and see the fish all around. A section that I was admittedly creeped out by, but was nevertheless very interesting was the reptile section. This included a terrifying tarantula, and various snakes including a boa constrictor *shudders!* It also had some rather cute little turtles. At a set time of the day there is the opportunity to meet the creatures up close and touch them. We avoided that part, but I’m sure older kids would love it.
Once we had walked through all the sections in the Blue Reef Aquarium we ended up back in the reception area. There is a cafe which looked fine to go to if you wanted to stay put. However we decided to head out instead for our lunch. The great thing being that we could go out knowing we could get back in no problem. We timed getting back to Blue Reef Aquarium for the feeding of the fish in the ocean tank. At the entrance they have all the feeding times that day for the various tanks.
We narrowly missed the Octopus being fed unfortunately, but caught the ocean fish having their lunch. A member of staff approached us and asked if we were waiting to see the feeding. She then explained what the fish eat and where we should look to see the best activity. As she threw in the food there was a wonderful flurry of movement. We were the only ones there to see it so managed to get a great view. It brought out all the fish that had been hiding so you can see all the different and amazing types. We had another look around at all the fish, as it was nice and quiet we could wonder around without feeling overcrowded. Lily could have stayed there even longer but eventually it was time to go.
It was a fantastic day out, perfect for children of 1 and up. Especially great for toddlers of Lily’s age (2) and for primary school children. The feed times could be planned around more if you wanted to catch them having their breakfast/lunch, which older children would especially enjoy. The aquarium was clean and well maintained, it didn’t feel tired at all. The toilet facilities were clean and child friendly.
My one criticism would be the price, as I mentioned we used Tesco Clubcard Points to purchase our ticket. Not using these points would have set us back £18 (under 3s go free). For half a days entertainment I feel this is quite steep, especially if you have older children who then cost on top of that. If it hadn’t been for the vouchers we perhaps wouldn’t have felt like we quite got our money’s worth. If a deal is available to make it cheaper however it is well worth a visit, and we will be going back!
To see other reviews on days out in East Sussex click here