If you haven’t visited Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium in the last couple of years, you’re missing out!
Updated Sep 2019.
A few weeks ago our family spent a rainy Saturday morning jam-packed with exploration and entertainment.
We had not been since the various upgrades/additions were completed and we were not disappointed. My menagerie was utterly absorbed for a whole morning by the offerings. There was a welcome mix of familiar displays with plenty of new interesting sights and sections to enjoy.
Buy your aquarium tickets online to avoid queues and get there early. Doors open at 0930. Kids under 4 visits free, kids 4 to 13 R90, kids 14 to 17 R140 and adults R185 per ticket. This covers all the exhibits, viewing of feedings and activities in the kids play area. Your ticket cost also helps with maintenance and conservation efforts required to run this extensive world-class facility.
I mentioned on my about page that our family used to practically know the aquarium fish by name! When the twins were babies and toddlers we visited often. The aquarium never loses its magic. We used to purchase annual membership cards which you benefit from financially after 2 visits. You get unlimited visits in the year, no queues and access to discounts and member-only events. We then gave the aquarium a break for a while but the kids had been begging relentlessly (it’s one of their skills) to visit again and I was curious to see the changes so we set off.
Old favourites to enjoy includes the “Nemo tank” full of delightful clownfish made indelible on our minds by the Finding Nemo movie. The unique viewing bubble enables a unique experience and brilliant photo op.
The beloved touch and feel pool is still there too. Exploration is met with scrunched up little faces, shrieks of excitement and glee as kids get their paws wet touching plants and creatures whilst learning interesting snippets from friendly staff. Older kids will enjoy looking at marine life through the nearby microscope.
The I&J Play Centre
After initial giddy running around from tank to tank (amidst futile instructions requesting children to slow down) your visit must include a visit to the I&J Play Centre. Here the kids can blow off steam with a bunch of value add activities included in your ticket. Climb the jungle gym, dig in the mini sandpit or a buy a snack or drink from the tuck shop if you didn’t bring your own. Books and puzzles also keep kiddies busy.
The play centre is where you can watch a puppet show which is on 3 times a day and targeted at children aged 3 to 9. A fun show delivers an important message about keeping our oceans clean. The kids get very excited with characters like Sally Seal, Bruce the Shark and other friends!
The highlight at the play centre for my daughter is their arts and crafts station. Children are assisted to create a memento which again is also included in your ticket.
This is a great spot for mom and dad to catch their breath and enjoy the best views of the quirky rockhopper penguins swimming about whilst the kids are contained and temporarily out of mischief.
Here you can watch the penguins get a feeding (twice a day). Caregivers monitor that each one gets its fair share and that no sneaky thieves snare extras! This exhibit is also home to a cheeky African black oystercatcher and a few other creatures.
New & Upgraded Exhibits
The predator exhibit is a definite highlight for kids and adults. Upgrades have been completed to this popular drawcard and here you’ll see magnificent sharks. The children have an opportunity to witness these ambassadors close up and learn about their important role, doing away with the unfair bad rep they get. We love the ragged-tooth sharks or raggies as we fondly call them.
A shark feeding takes place on Sundays at 1500.
I&J Ocean Exhibit
The I&J Ocean Exhibit is the aquarium’s main new showstopper. This incredible masterpiece features a 10m long transparent tunnel, a first in South Africa. Feel mesmerised as you “walk through the ocean” whilst watching subtropical species like rays, musselcrackers and turtles swim over and around you. The main viewing window is 9m wide by 4m high. This exhibit holds a whopping 1.6million litres of water!
Join the talking scuba-diver daily at 1200 as he feeds the rays, turtles and guitarfish or at 1400 when the little guys enjoy their feeding frenzy. The diver talks via live feed to the audience who are able to ask questions.
A few exhibits and areas are named after I&J which relates to their long standing commitment and relationship with the Two Oceans Aquarium as well as their commitment to sustainable fishing.
Smart Living Challenge Zone
I love this new exhibit area that entails 4 digitally interactive zones. These zones aim to educate about biodiversity, energy, waste and water. Topics are relevant to everyone but in particular to Capetonians with all our energy and water dramas over the last few years.
All In All
My family went all out to maximise our visit and I recommend you do the same! We enjoyed taking in a balance of exhibits in between slotting in the 1030 puppet show, 1130 penguin feeding and the 1200 I&J Ocean Exhibit feeding of rays etc. I did say we were busy!
If you haven’t been recently you really do need to visit.
Top Reasons To Love The Aquarium
- Education through exploration and engagement
- Value add activities in play centre
- Variety of feedings to watch and enjoy
- A cool inside activity in summer and a protected venue in winter
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