Day 7 of our #80dayschallenge took us to Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary in North Yorkshire. This is another place we’ve never been to before but we have certainly been meaning to. We’ve had at least 5 holidays to Scarborough and never made it there before. Scarborough Sea Life is owned and run by Merlin Entertainments. In this post I will review what there is to see and do at this aquarium by the sea.
A Bit About Scarborough Sea Life
Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary is located on the far northern point of Scarborough. It is situated by the sea and can be seen from Scarborough’s north beach. There is a car park on site which is free to park at, out of season. There is a charge to park during peak season. If you fancy arriving other than by car you can take a bus there or even a steam train. Down by Peasholm park you will find North Bay Railway. This has mini steam trains running between the north bay and Scarborough Sea Life.
Bus service 9a terminates at Sea Life Scarborough. If arriving by car you will need to follow the signs for North bay Attractions and the Sea Life centre. Free parking is available a short walk away on Scalby Mills road although this is quite a steep walk down and back up again.
Review of our visit to Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary
The average visit time to Scarborough Sea Life is 2 hours. This is how long we spent there. To be honest we could have easily spent longer there as we didn’t see any of their talks or feeding times which are on throughout the day. It was bigger than I was expecting with plenty crammed into their pyramid buildings. This is what I really liked about this aquarium. Someone has really put some thought into the place and made it not only interactive but with a few unique surprises that we really loved.
When you arrive they stagger people going through by taking a series of photos of you. You can view these at the end of your visit and purchase keepsakes if you wish.
Native Sharks and Rays
Native sharks and rays is the first main tank that you will come to. We spent a long time stood here both looking down from the top and crouching down below. They have a decent number of rays in here and they were very entertaining to stand and watch. We spotted a couple of small sharks but the highlight was the rays.
Great Barrier Reef and Claws
There are plenty of tanks in the Great Barrier reef area. Plus of course, the opportunity to spot Nemo, although we didn’t spot any Dory’s.
We really loved the tanks of jellyfish. There are plenty of informative signs around the aquarium.
I was expecting tanks of turtles in here. Instead, we found some soft toy turtles. Initially, I was wondering what was going on but it turned out to be such fun. Each child is handed a turtle and you have to help nurse it back to health by taking it to different stations. You place your turtle on a station and then you either have to feed it, give it water, help mend where it is injured and more. Then once you have visited all the stations you ‘release’ your turtle back on a beach to send it on its journey back to sea. What a wonderful way for kids to learn about nursing turtles. It was incredibly busy in here but we didn’t have to wait long for each set of stations to be available. Jamie’s face was priceless, he loved doing this and he wanted to do it all over again. Turtle rescue is new for 2019.
I’ll explain about the hat in the events section below.
After nursing our turtle back to health we headed on out to Penguin island. This was surprise number two. You enter a small area where you are shut in as a group and each person has to disinfect their shoes on a mat. Why? Well because you then go into the penguin enclosure. I have never been anywhere before that we could do this and it was lovely to walk in and find a Humboldt penguin stood in front of us on the path. They didn’t disappoint and the penguins were very entertaining. You are given a few minutes to stand amongst the penguins and there is a small informative talk while you are in there. You are then all ushered out together before the next group enters.
Just around the corner from Penguin Island we found a small play area. There is also an outdoor seasonal snack and drinks shack here with a few benches. There’s also a wonderful view of Scarborough’s north bay from here.
This was one of the favourite areas of our 5 year old’s. He loved the interactive Rockpool and it was great that there was someone knowledgable there throughout the day. He was really engaging and my normally shy child was politely asking questions and he wanted to basically stroke everything he possibly could. We ended up having to take his coat off for him and roll up his sleeves so he could get stuck in even more. He mostly stroked sea anemones but there were a few hermit crabs wandering around.
The tunnel was good but not very long. We did find the Loggerhead turtle in here though which was a massive highlight for us. It felt very strange to be stood looking right in the eye of such a fascinating creature. We didn’t see very much of anything else. There were a few small sharks swimming around and a few other small fish.
They have a lot of seals along the East Yorkshire coastline and as this is Yorkshire’s only Seal Hospital then this is a very important area of Scarborough Sea Life. We saw a young pup in the hospital who hopefully will be released back into the ocean soon. They also have an outdoor pool with a few seals in. You can sit here and listen to talks about the seals such as their rescue and rehabilitation. They rescue around 30 common and grey seals a year and they can look after 4 poorly pups at a time.
Trying to see the otters really made us chuckle. One of their two otters kept going outside to collect straw. Every time we followed it while it collected the straw we missed it as it soon darted back in again. In the end, we learnt our lesson and just hung around by their nest box. It was worth the wait as the ‘collecting’ otter was so adorable taking the straw in and moving it around. Sadly I didn’t manage a decent photo.
Kingdom of Sea Horses
I LOVED this part. I adore sea horses, I always have. They are so beautiful and I love how they wrap themselves around plants on the sea bed. They always look so majestic. We saw our first ever Weedy Sea Dragons and we were all very impressed. They actually looked like dragons and they were just stunning.
There aren’t many tables in the Scarborough Sea Life cafe so if you want to eat there get there early. We made the mistake of not eating there and went to the nearby Scalby Mills pub to eat. It took over 45 minutes for our food to arrive and we spent most of the time wishing we’d eaten at the Sea Life centre. We had a snack and a drink when we arrived at 10am and there were plenty of tables free then. Also in here, they had a few things set up for kids to play on as part of their Lego event.
They sell hot and cold drinks plus snacks and sandwiches/paninis. They have a few picnic tables outside next to the Beach Bites Kiosk.
Pirate Adventure Mini Golf
They even have mini golf at the Sea Life Scarborough. It was too cold for playing during our visit. I am unsure if it is included in the entrance price or not. I have made enquiries and I will update asap.
Events at Scarborough Sea Life
Over February half term and through to March the 17th they have a Lego event on. There is a trail where you can collect a medal at the end plus various Lego themed things to play with in the cafe area. Jamie loved his Lego hat and wore it for the whole duration.
From the 26th March until the 6th May look out for their Jawsome sharks’ event. There are plenty of events yet to be announced.
Scarborough Sea Life offers premium experiences. There’s the Marine biologist experience, breakfast with the seals, VIP sleepovers and a wedding proposal experience. Please follow the link for age limits and further information.
The most important thing to know about Scarborough Sea Life is if you book online in advance not only will you save money but it will guarantee you entry on the day you’ve booked for. Online prices in advance are from £9.90 vs £16.50+ on the day. Your ticket is valid for one day and you are free to come and go as you wish.
You can also purchase a season pass from £16.50. Pay once and visit all year for free. Children aged 2 and under are free to visit the aquarium.
In winter the car park is free. During busier periods from Spring to Summer there is a charge to park.
If you’d like to see even more of the aquarium please watch our video.
Disclaimer: We were invited to review Sea Life Scarborough. We were gifted ticket in exchange for this review. All words, photos and opinions are entirely my own and must not be reproduced without prior consent.
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