Bournemouth Oceanarium – Great family friendly Aquarium

If you are staying in Bournemouth or visiting for the day I can recommend a visit to the Oceanarium. It’s a lovely aquarium right down by the seafront. We only spent a few hours in there so it’s not a full day trip but I was glad we went and there’s still plenty more nearby to keep you entertained. To read more about what there is to do in Bournemouth and what we got up to on our holiday there check out my post for – My Top 10 List Of Family Friendly Things To Do In Bournemouth. Please find my review of the Bournemouth Oceanarium below.

Our visit to Bournemouth Oceanarium – A Review

We visited just before Easter weekend. We got there early as we were expecting it to be busy. It was indeed that but to be honest it didn’t seem to matter too much. We didn’t struggle to see in the tanks like we can end up doing at some bigger aquariums. The only thing we gave up trying to watch was the feeding times. But that was mostly down to our rotten timing and not getting there early enough to secure a spot for the less tall one (ie. Jamie!)

The aquarium itself is on two levels and it flowed well so we didn’t actually miss anything. There’s heaps of information around the place. Each tank is labelled well as to what is in it. There’s also plenty of further information about the creatures that inhabit our seas. They have feeding times throughout the day for the otters, penguins, sharks and turtles. Make sure you are given a leaflet stating what time these are. If you have short people with you make sure, if it’s a busy day, that you turn up early to watch.

The Tanks at the Oceanarium

There’s plenty of tanks to look in. Jamie, of course, had to find Nemo and Dory, that’s standard right? With over 150 species of fish, we were finding all sorts of fish we’d never seen before. As well as fish there were also plenty of invertebrates such as lobster, jellyfish, sea snails, lobsters and more.

The tanks at Oceanarium


The Penguins

The Penguins at the Oceanarium are Humboldt penguins. We stood watching them for ages. Mostly trying to guess which one was going to jump into the water next. The answer was actually none of them. There is an onsite café where you can sit and watch the penguins from the windows. This provided lots of entertainment as half of them had clambered onto a rock to look through the window but were then struggling to get back down again.

Jamie loved watching them pop in and out of their caves. They also have some very cute Inca terns flying around the penguin’s enclosure.

The Otters and reptiles

Sadly they didn’t play ball for a photo. We did see them wandering about though. The otters here are Oriental small-clawed otters. They are the smallest of the otter species. The otter’s enclosure had a makeover in 2011. There are now rock pools, flowing streams and more for them to play in. Another thing I didn’t manage a photo of were the reptiles. They have crocodiles, turtles, Chinese water dragons and Iguanas.

Great barrier reef tank

This can be seen from both floors. From the top floor, you can stand at two balconies overlooking the tank. It was nice to look down and see the turtles and sharks swimming around. We spent quite a while here just watching. The tanks weren’t too busy in that you felt in the way while you stood and watched.

From the bottom floor, this large tank can be seen via a few viewing areas including a walk-through tunnel. Jamie was in his element taking photos of the sharks and turtles. It was lovely seeing the super large turtles swimming around in here. We were lucky that one of them kept swimming next to one of the viewing areas. I’d never seen such a large turtle so close.


Play area at Bournemouth Oceanarium

At the end of your visit, you will find a small play area for the little uns. The kids were mostly good at taking it in turns to climb on the turtle and make their way across the wobbly bridge. Jamie was really chuffed with himself for figuring out how to get across.

As it was rather busy here these are the best two photos that I could manage for this area. The play area is for children under 10 years old. There is also a kiosk for drinks and snacks here. The children can play while you watch the jellyfish and the penguins. There is a nice little shop to peruse as you exit. And so ends our visit. It was a lovely little aquarium. We didn’t rush our visit so we spent a suitable amount of time there. It wasn’t a full day out for us but that wasn’t what we wanted from Oceanarium.

Important Information about Bournemouth Oceanarium

Pricing varies greatly. If you book online and if you book for a certain date then there are all sorts of savings to be made. I recommend you visit the admission prices section of their website here. We hadn’t bought our tickets in advance so on the door we paid £10.25 for a senior and for myself, my Mum and Jamie we bought a family of 3 ticket for £24.95. You can pay up to £2 less for some of the tickets online.

Your ticket is valid all day. So you can pop back again later on in the day if you so desire. The Oceanarium is open all year round, except Christmas Day, from 10 am. Closing times vary throughout the year. There’s two cafés onsite, plus a kiosk and a shop.

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Bournemouth Oceanarium - Great family friendly Aquarium

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