Monterey Bay Aquarium is such a great place for children, there is so much interaction and learning for them (and adults too).
This aquarium is rated one of the best in the world and if you’ve been there you can definitely see why. If you haven’t been there you should!
This aquarium is so cool it even does sleepovers, how amazing would that be for children? such a great out-of-the-box idea and that’s not all, children aged 8 to 12 can go diving in the aquarium at certain times of the year, yes really!
Monterey Bay Aquarium has 12 exhibits in total:
- Viva Baja! Life on the edge (which is a special exhibit) – This exhibit is spectacularly bright and colorful, the animals (fishes, turtles, crabs and even snakes) all from Baja California just make you go “wow” with their vibrance and beautiful patterns.
- Tentacles (which is a special exhibit) – Octopuses, cuttlefishes and squids are in this exhibit and they range from big to small and vivid to dull. I never realized these creatures were so sneaky and mesmerizing to watch.
- Giant Pacific Octopus – You’ll see sea cucumbers and sea anemones as well as the giant Pacific Octopus the largest of all octopuses which is amazingly majestic.
- Kelp forest – In this aquarium (which is one of the tallest in the world) there’s a mesmerizing underwater kelp forest which is home to three different kinds of shark, eels, sea stars, sea hares and many different varieties of interesting fish. There are also twice daily feedings as well you can watch.
- Life on the Bay – Outside there are ocean-view decks where you’ll have an opportunity to spot wildlife, from humpback whales, sea otters, dolphins, birds, sharks, seals and sea lions all call Monterey Bay home.
- Mission to the deep – This exhibit is a virtual dive where a 360-degree video projection takes you deep within the depths of the ocean. There are lots of weird and wonderful creatures down there and you’ll also get to learn about the (MBARI) Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (a leader in ocean research and exploration) and all the technology they use as well as their underwater observatory.
- Monterey Bay habitat – This exhibit is over 90 feet long and shows five different habitats and the fishes, sharks, rays, crabs, sea stars, sea dollars and sea anemones that live within them.
- Open sea – This is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s largest exhibit and it’s brilliant, a 90 foot window gives you the most amazing view of what goes on down below. There are sharks, many fishes, stingrays, turtles, birds and lots of jellyfish.
The school of sardines is epic as are just so many of them, it’s amazing to watch them in real life instead of on a TV screen.
Watching the jellyfish glow is lots of fun, they are amazing and very photogenic.
- Rocky shore – Your children will love this exhibit, they can really get up close and personal here. See all the animals that live in the shoreline, anemones, crabs, muscles, eels, barnacles, sea lemons, limpets, fishes, snails, sea stars and sea hares there’s also plants as well. There’s a Wave Crash glass area that “crashes” about every 30 seconds that’s fun to walk through (you can see this from outside on the viewing deck too).
- Sandy shore – This is another exhibit that’ll probably be a favourite for your children as there’s a touch pool!
You’ll see fishes, sea dollars, shrimp, worms, rays and plants as well as other activities and videos that’ll engross your little ones. There’s an aviary in this exhibit too.
- Sea otters – These cute little critters are so great to watch, they make you smile with their playfulness and you can see feedings three times daily.
- Splash zone – This is where you’ll find penguins splashing about, crabs, fishes (including Nemo), anemones, coral, eels, sea sponges, sea lemons, sea stars and even an interesting shark.
The best part for children would have to be the hands on activities and learning they can do, with the petting pool, videos, telescopes and a whole heap of other activities in almost all areas they’re sure to be entertained.
Our favorite part would have to be the jellyfish, they take your breath away and look amazing because they glow. The jellyfish babies are really interesting and as soon as we entered there was a lovely lady showing us a tube of the little buggers which little miss really enjoyed, she was able to hold the tube and investigate them properly.
If you get hungry which there’s a good chance you will after all your exploring you can pop into the cafe and give your feet a well-earned rest too. There are also a couple of gift shops that have lovely things, and the toys in there are some of the softest I think I’ve ever felt.
There’s lots of parking but there’s also lots of people, it’s a very busy place so be prepared to pay either $20 for parking or to drive around until you get lucky with a closer park… Just check how long the parking is for, we thought hooray we got one and then realized it was only 24 minutes. You’ll need at the very least 2 hours but 3 would be best.
While we were in Monterey we stayed at the Hotel Abrego, if you stay there and buy your tickets to the aquarium through them you get an extra day admission at no extra cost. All reputable hotels in the surrounding area have tickets for sale so if you’re staying in town buy from your concierge rather than the aquarium itself, you can also skip the queue this way (which gets very long).
The Monterey Bay Aquarium website is fantastic, any information you need you’ll be able to find there, they even have live web cams to watch certain animals and an app for your smart phone.
So next time you’re in the area or looking for an amazing aquarium to visit you should definitely stop by here, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
❄️Be sure to let us know if you’ve been here and what you enjoyed the most, we’d love to hear from you.