Reviewed by Meresa Bergin
I was delighted to be asked to review SEA LIFE Brighton, being avid fans my husband and I have been several times but we have never taken any children with us, so we decided to take our friends young children aged 3 and 4.
The SEA LIFE centre in Brighton is based right on the sea front so is easy to find, there is some parking along the sea front but plenty in the town centre which is only a few moments away, there is also a bus station and the train station is about half an hour walk through town. There is a large area outside the main building to meet. On the day we visited there was a large queue to get in and as it was the Easter holidays with some large groups of children waiting. We had arrived as the SEA LIFE centre was opening so it may have been a bit quieter as the day went on.
After a short wait we were in, I did find it a little odd that the pre-paid line was a lot longer than the on the day line, my 4 year old friend kept asking why we had to wait when there was no one in the other line. Once inside there is a lot to see as you wait to be stamped so you can go in and out all day, the children got some paper glasses and stickers which they loved. I was a little concerned as there were a lot of large groups around as we were trying to get into the main area. The assistance was very good with the stamps though as my husband had taken the children to the other side of the room to see fish as I queued and she came over to stamp them so I didn’t have to drag them back over again.
As you are going in there is a photo area where the staff get you to pose looking scared as there is a background they attached to make a cool photo but being so young the children didn’t really understand what they were being asked to do. Once inside there is a huge open space with lots of fish tanks, as it was so busy I had to keep a close eye on the children as they both wanted to go in different directions.
They loved looking at all the fish, my friend’s little boy enjoyed touching the crab and starfish in the touching pool but the little girl I took did not, but this was not a problem as my husband took her to another area to look at fish. Afterwards there is a sink that you can wash your hands in to get rid of the germs from the sea water.
They also enjoyed the decked area where they could look into the water at the sting rays, the little girl kept commenting on how their eyes were on top of their heads and asking me to take a photo of their eyes, which proved a little difficult!
One of their favourite tanks was the sharks nursery, which had baby sharks growing inside and was a good talking point as to where the mummies and daddies where, where they at work and coming back later?
My favourite part is the rain forest, the children were delighted with their own special ways to get in there and we all loved seeing the baby turtles, there was then a call to remind us there was going to be a turtle talk and show at 11am, so we rushed to that but got a little lost and went through the tunnel which is below it which the children did really enjoy seeing the sharks and turtles above them.
The children enjoyed looking at the turtles as the talk went on, I wasn’t sure much they would take in given their ages but the 5 year old surprised me by telling me how plastic bags had gotten into the sea and the turtles bellies so we had to be really careful with plastic at the beach!
The only small niggle we had, well my husband did were the toilets. Our little 3 year old friend decided he needed the toilet whilst in the talk centre and we were told the only toilets were back at start of the building where you come in, given his age it was a bit far for him to go we felt and my husband had to rush him which was a bit difficult as there were such big crowds of children in the way to get there. So I would really suggest asking your children if they needed the toilet before you go into the main area as it can be a little difficult if busy to get them back over.
There is also an area which has sand with plastic bottles and things in to explore what we should have on the beach and what is dangerous, I know children will clearly come with an adult but I felt it would have been nice to have a member of staff there to explain to the children the importance of why we needed to do it as I did note a lot of children seemed to be using the area as a sand tray as such.
We all had a lovely day, there is so much for the children to do and there is a talk on each hour we only stayed for the turtle one and there dining area in the middle of the centre if you want to eat, you could bring your own or there is snack food to buy. There is also a Harvester above the centre and the beach is right across the road if you wanted to go out and come back again. With some many sea life creatures to look at and places to explore I think it is well worth the money and is a great place to take the children during the holidays.
Tickets cost from £9.95pp to £17.50pp (get the cheapest price by booking online in advance).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.visitsealife.com/brighton.
SEA LIFE Brighton, Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1TB | 0871 423 2110