Come winter, as a family we still like to spend much of our time together in the Great Outdoors. Wellies and woolly hats on, we spend our days on the beaches, in the woods or exploring Cornwall’s gardens and wide-open spaces. Then we come home and light the fire.
But, with short days and chilly northerly winds, we don’t want to spend all our time braving the elements. Which is why it’s such a relief that Cornwall is home to so many brilliant indoor attractions as well as its natural landscape. For a winter excursion Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium is one our favourite places to visit. After all, being bang on the beach and home to an array of Cornish marine life, a couple of hours here feels like total immersion in Cornwall’s ocean environment.
In the warmth of the aquarium we can come face-to-face with marine life without getting wet, or cold. Adults and children alike walk through the displays with jaws dropped, exploring the underwater world from Cornish waters to the Amazon and the Indian Ocean. A series of tanks house a magnificent array of species from starfish and lobsters to caiman, a giant octopus and the deadly stonefish.
The main attraction is the underwater tunnel, in which we are in awe of the reef sharks, giant turtles, stingrays and puffer-fish swimming around our heads. The children take a pew and start to draw the fish they are watching, and an interactive display tells us more about the sea life we encounter.
Despite being a small aquarium there’s quite a few species packed in, and it’s perfect for small children who can use the step-up stools to peer into the tanks. However, because of its size don’t expect to spend more than an hour or two here – which makes it’s quite an expensive attraction when a family ticket costs £32.50. Once you’ve paid you can re-enter as many times as you like during the day, so enjoy the aquarium’s private beach on the doorstep and come back in for one of the interesting talks or feeding time in the tanks. However, surely if there was a local’s discount or more affordable off-season rates, more families would be coming in from the cold and enjoying this wonderful attraction on a winter’s day.
Blue Reef Aquarium
Towan Promenade, Newquay, TR7 1DU
Adults £9.75, children £7.50, family £32.50
My review on coolplaces.co.uk