We were over the moon a couple of weeks ago to be invited to review Sea Life London, based on London’s busy Southbank near the London Eye- a perfect way to round off what’s been a rather lovely summer holidays. As South-East London dwellers we’ve taken Freddie (7) and Sasha (6) a few times before when they were more pre-school age, but not for a couple of years at least, and certainly not since Arlo was born last summer. We were also excited to take our youngest chap as we had taken both of the big two here for each of their first birthdays, but hadn’t done so yet for poor Arlo as his actual birthday clashed with sports day #thirdbabyproblems My photos are a little darker than usual due to the lighting there (you understandably can’t use a flash so not to startle the fish or other animals), but you can still get a glimpse of what we managed to see during our time there (allow 2 hours for a visit).
I’d heard that Sea Life London has changed a fair bit over the past couple of years, with new exhibitions and a brand new penguin area to check out, so I was very much looking forward to our visit. We were fortunate to have been allocated a specific time slot on arrival, so all we had to do was pick up our tickets. I strongly advise that you book a slot in advance (arrive at least 15 minutes beforehand), as we went on a very busy day, and there were several disappointed families who had just turned up to buy tickets and were told to come back 1.5 hours later as it was full. Definitely pays off to be prepared! Oh, and your nearest tube is Westminster or Waterloo (for travel ease!)
After a bit of a slow start into the main aquarium (you have to navigate a lift and obligatory family photo-taker first BUT also get to take time walking over reinforced glass for the BEST view of a whole myriad of sea life), you arrive at the first viewing points/aquariums. The marine life always look so well cared for at Sea Life London, something we’d noticed previously and thankfully this hadn’t changed. I also like the fact that some aquariums are up higher, and some down lower, so children (and toddlers like Arlo can easily view).
He absolutely LOVED seeing all the different fish, and got very excited!
What’s great about Sea Life London is it’s one of those days out that’s suitable for all ages, so ideal when you have bigger gaps between kids- Arlo just liked watching the fish and the lighting, and F & S can now read up on the different species and exhibitions.
Freddie in particular is a big nature and geography kind of guy, so got a kick out of finding out where all the marine life comes from in the world. I was impressed at how clearly the facts and information is displayed around the entire centre, and also that there are different ‘themed’ areas i.e. a rainforest area, and London River Thames area, the penguins etc. By doing this your experience ‘flows’ well and you get a real feel for what the waters must be like in the various parts of the globe.
What was especially nice for the big two was the chance to get up close to some of the exhibits. The Ray experience talk is fantastic, Sasha got to touch a starfish (with a very knowledgeable member of staff on hand to help and tell you more about them), and some cool ‘pop up’ tunnels where you head is in a plastic bubble and you feel like you’re ‘in’ the enclosure.
Freddie is a shark fan, so we also spent a fair bit of time spotting and working out what kind of sharks they were.
The new penguin enclosure is absolutely brilliant- so much bigger than when we last came a few years back, with much more space to view them as well as find out their names. Freddie and Sasha loved working out which one was which from their colour coded tags!
Sea Life London is always going to be busier than other Sea Life centres due to its location, but once we were in it didn’t feel overcrowded and we could still easily see everything we wanted to see. If you can though, I’d definitely advise taking a sling or back-carried for a baby or toddler, as negotiating a buggy around the place is a pain (I should really know better third time around). I was really impressed with how the whole place has been renovated and improved, and I can’t wait to take the kids again- who have already asked when they can next go back!
*Thanks to Sea Life London for inviting us for such a lovely day out, all words and opinions my own
See some of our other London adventures