Reviewed by Katie Allen
We’ve had such a long hot summer so far so when the weather turned it was great to find an activity for the family that was indoors. We (2 adults and 3 children (5, 12 and 15)) arrived at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth just as it opened at 10am and despite the rain it was pleasantly quiet.
The first big tank was full of rays which very cutely seemed to wave at us as we watched them glide by – I could have admired them all day.
We especially loved seeing Nemo, Marlin, Dory and Jacques. They were, helpfully, put in tanks very close together and it was great to see our own real-life Finding Nemo cast. The Rainforest section was really interesting too with fish as big as my 5 year old and a shoal of sparkly, but scary looking, piranhas.
Around the corner from the piranhas we found the gorgeous otters Ralph and Selma. They were having their enclosure cleaned and were running and swimming around playfully. It was great to watch them for a while.
The aquarium isn’t large but there’s plenty to occupy the children for an hour or so – more if you time it right and stay for the many talks that are available. We didn’t stay for these and I was a bit confused as to where they were held but I’m sure we could have asked someone. There’s also a useful room full of tables and chairs and colouring and puzzle sheets which the smaller children enjoyed.
The ticket is valid all day and when you enter you get your hand stamped so you can return as many times as you want. We did just this and had a second visit after we had a drink at the cafe (around the corner from the aquarium).
Determined that the drizzle wouldn’t beat us we ate our picnic in the large outdoor area which has a play area and splash park for sunny days. You could easily spend all day in just this part if it was a hot day.
To reduce your day’s cost you can save 20% by booking online. There is ample parking just outside but this is charged 24/7. There is free on-road parking a short walk away for three hours if you can find a space near the Jolly Sailor pub.
Tickets cost from £7.88 (book online in advance for cheapest price).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk/portsmouth.
Beef Reef Aquarium, Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO5 3PB | 023 9287 5222