Day out at Hunstanton Sea Life

Watching seals at Hunstanton Sealife

Watching seals at Hunstanton Sealife

I’ve had a day out at Hunstanton Sea Life before with Little Miss for her birthday. We had such a good time, that this time I asked my friend, Kate and her Little Miss to come as well. I had a 2 for 1 voucher from the back of the cornflake box, and under 3s go free, so a reasonably cheap day out.

What’s at Hunstanton Sea Life?

Looking at the jellyfish

Looking at the jellyfish

This Sea Life sanctuary is quite small – you’ll easily get around in 2 or 3 hours – and it’s a bit ‘tired’. Having said that, there is plenty to see, including all the usual suspects – seals, sharks, sting rays, Nemo fish, turtles (including Ernie the sea turtle), penguins and crocs. For parents and older children, there is lots of information to read about the displays, including conservation issues, which I found particularly interesting.

There is a discovery pool where you can touch a starfish or sea anemone. I’ve seen this before at other aquariums, and it’s really cool. Starfish are a lot harder and prickly then you think they might be. In this area there were also seahorses and jellyfish, but you can’t touch these. The Little Misses were particularly fascinated by the jellyfish and loved how they kept getting tangled up in each other.

Clownfish Kingdom is a new area for 2013, with lots of colourful clownfish. In one of the tanks there are two plastic domes – the Little Misses poked there heads in one each and got a real laugh by seeing each other, with all the fish swimming between them.

The staff feed the creatures at different times, so make sure you pick up a programme when you arrive. Staff also give a talk about the creatures during feeding time. First we saw the penguins being fed – we were warned that they were reluctant to get out of the water that day because it was so cold! Penguins…cold…go figure! The lad then went on to explain that the penguins were actually from Peru, so I guess Hunstanton would be colder. We also saw the sharks and sea turtle being fed. The strangest thing was seeing Ernie the sea turtle being fed broccoli. I can’t imagine that would be on the menu in the wild.

Don’t miss. . .

Shark tank at Hunstanton Sea life

Sharks, sting rays and Ernie the sea turtle all live in the shark tank

The shark tank. The first time I saw it I actually did say ‘wow’. It’s certainly not the biggest one I’ve seen, but never-the-less, it’s still really impressive. We spent a good half-hour just watching the sharks, sting rays and Ernie the sea turtle swimming around.

Magic moment: Little Miss coming face-to-face with a sting ray (do sting rays have faces?) in the shark tank. She placed her palm against the glass and the sting ray just stayed there. She was mesmerised.

All the important bits

Car parking
Sea Life is on the waterfront at Hunstanton, so does not have its own car park. There is a large public car park on Seagate Road, or do what I did – continue past the car park, past the amusement arcades and park for free on the side of the road. Although, I imagine spaces would be few and far between over summer. Would be worth trying though, you can always turn around at the end of the road and go back to the public car park.

Tickets
We had a 2 for 1 voucher, so only paid £14.40. Under 3s go free. Otherwise it is £14.40 each (adults and over 3’s!). Save money by buying online – £10 each. There is also a family saver which gets everyone in the party in for £12.90 (£9 online) – you must have at least one adult in the party. The ticket is an all-day ticket, so you can come and go as you please.

Eating and drinking
We brought our own lunch and asked if it was OK to eat in the café area, which was fine. Perhaps on a busy day they might not be so happy with that, but it pays to ask. There is also seating outside, so you could eat out there. The menu was typical for a family-friendly attraction – fish and chips, chicken nuggets and chips, but also sandwiches, paninis and cooked meals; with an adult’s meal around £5 and kids about £3.

The staff will heat up baby food or a bottle if you ask. And I counted five highchairs.

Facilities
The toilets are dated, but clean. There is a separate baby changing room with a bench and basin (no toilet). It was as clean as these things normally are.

Kids’ activities
The Little Misses were too small for the kids’ activity cards. But older kids will enjoy answering the 12 or so questions on the walls around the centre. There are two  questions – one for 3-5 years and one for 6-10 years. Get a card at the entrance and scratch off the correct answer as you go around.

The outdoor play area, ‘Pirate Bay’ is really fab. It’s a wooden pirate ship with cargo nets, tunnels and a slide. There’s also picnic tables by the play area, so a great place for lunch when the weather is warmer.

My ratings

  • Value for money 4/5 (but only if you have a voucher)
  • Fun factor (kids) 5/5
  • Fun factor (Parents) 4/5

A really fun day out for everyone, with lots for the kids to see, and plenty of facts and figures for Mums and Dads to read. It’s small enough to get around everything in a couple of hours. But if you’re paying full price, it’s an expensive day out. Look out for 2 for 1 vouchers – I’ve been twice and both times was able to find a voucher.

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