Last week we visited Sea Life Manchester – where the girls had loads of fun meeting the Octonauts, stroking snakes and starfish, and (kind of) high-fiving a turtle. We were kindly given entry to Sea Life to review the attraction, and it was a lovely way to spend a few hours as a family.
Exploring the aquarium
There are lots of different zones within the aquarium, starting with Turtle beach. Here you find out about the life of a sea turtle through an interactive presentation, and it’s cute seeing the baby turtles projected onto the sand. Next you get to see some of the most unusual looking fish and sea creatures in the rocky hideout, find out more about sharks and seahorses and explore the coral reefs. Of course the “Nemos” were Clara’s favourites, and she enjoyed ducking through the tunnel to watch them. There are a few tunnels dotted around the aquarium so children can really get up close to the fish.
The Ocean Tunnel was my favourite bit – you walk through a big glass tunnel and watch the fish and sharks swim around you and over head. That’s where Clara kept trying to high-five Ernie, the sea turtle, as he swam over her head. She loves turtles, ever since she got a soft toy one on holiday last year. (She even has an imaginary giant turtle that comes in her room at night when she’s trying to sleep and plays with her toys). After we got back from Sealife she was telling everyone about seeing the turtle – a real one this time!
There is a Jurassic Ranger zone which appealed to Izzy, who has recently decided she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up (an improvement from last year when she wanted to be a Stormtrooper) – she was happy chatting away to the friendly staff about fossils and shark teeth. She also really liked learning about turtles and terrapins in Turtle World and was asking lots of questions – while Clara was happy exploring the interactive areas and finding out if her turtle egg was going to be a boy or girl!
Getting up close
Izzy is always the first to volunteer when it comes to holding snakes or meeting unusual creatures, so there was no holding her back when she had the opportunity to hold a giant land snail, stroke a small snake and touch a starfish.
Clara is usually much more cautious but she was so excited and wanted to do all the same things as Izzy. She wouldn’t hold the snail but she did touch its shell and stroke the snake and starfish – and she was super proud of herself. As she should be. She has really got more confidence lately and I love that she will try new things (even if she shows me up by being braver than me!) They both liked collecting the free badges to add to their explorer lanyards after each creature experience, which was a nice touch. You can listen to a number of talks or take part in feeding times throughout the day – you are given a list of times when you enter, or you can check online beforehand if there is something you don’t want to miss.
There is a soft play area in the middle of Sea Life which is a great way for the kids to run off some of that energy. It’s quite small inside; we visited during school holidays and it was busy but not packed. They spent about 20 minutes or so in there before we went to see more fish, but you can go in and out as much as you like during the day.
Exploring with the Octonauts
Over the Summer you can join the Octonauts on a deep sea adventure. There are different activities to look out for throughout the aquarium, and the kids can collect a badge at the end for completing them. There’s also the chance to meet some of the characters – we bumped into Captain Barnacles in the car park!
Visit Sea Life Manchester
Sea Life Manchester is at the Intu Trafford Centre, and as you can go in and out all day, you can alternate shopping with visiting the aquarium to keep the kids happy, or go for lunch at the food court. We spent about 2 and a half hours there and we took our time, but you could spend longer if you wanted. It’s also right next door to the Legoland Discovery Centre, and you can buy combo tickets for both attractions if you want to make a full day of it. Buying online in advance will save money, as will looking out for 2 for 1 entry offers (like the ones often available on cereal boxes, and currently available on some Cadbury chocolate products).
It was a really nice trip out and the girls both really enjoyed it, especially getting to try new things like holding a giant land snail. A week later Clara is still talking about high-fiving a turtle and meeting the Octonauts, she was certainly impressed!
Visit the Sea Life Manchester website to find out more.
*We were given entry to Sea Life Manchester in order to write an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.