by Tara Scarlata
IN the main port of Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, there is an impressive building, which is very modern in design. The outside comes alive at night and is beautifully lit, which entices you to find out what is inside.
Opened in winter 2017, it’s an amazing aquarium, full of ocean life from all over our planet. It is easily accessible from Tenerife by ferry, and from the southern resorts of Gran Canaria, by a bus transfer, which can be bought as a twin ticket.
It’s also great if you arrive on a cruise ship, as it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the dock. We weren’t quite sure what to expect inside, but, after visiting Siam Park and Loro Parque, and knowing this was the same group, we had pretty-high expectations.
It’s easy to enter. There is a ticket office, and then you are straight in via a small cave. You have to cross a glass walkway, and you can see the fish beneath your feet. This was great for kids (and some apprehensive adults), who felt as though they were walking on water. You start in a big, open-plan jungle area, full of beautiful plants, tanks buzzing with life, and rocks, trees and bridges, to feel as though you really are in the jungle.
Here you can find the crocodiles, fish from the Amazon, electric eels and a fantastic tree full of chameleons (if you can spot them with their camouflage). There are digital signs dotted all around, telling you interesting information about what you are looking at.
On the way to the next area, don’t miss the Axolotl, or Mexican walking fish, which are critically endangered. Are they fish, or are they lizards? I’ll let you make up your own mind.
Next, you will head to the beach area, where there are some of the most amazing creatures here. The Pig-nose turtles are incredible, and I’ve never seen anything like them.
Finding Nemo… carry on along, and there is a great tank full of tropical fish where you can spot him and his friends, with small tunnels that can be crawled through, so you feel as though you are in the sea with them.
Ahead of you there is a huge tube, but we will come back to that later. In this area, you can also stop for a coffee or a bite to eat, with the most amazing view of the underwater world.
Carrying on along, you discover the deep-sea zone, and you find yourself in a dome in the big tank. This is where you will see the bigger species; several types of sharks, huge rays and turtles, with big schools of fish, everywhere you look.
Further along, there are a few more portholes into the big tank, and you will discover some of the deep-sea creatures. Then, from darkness, you walk around the corner and your jaw will drop – a massive, curved-glass wall into the biggest tank I have ever seen, which is 36 metres long, and nearly eight metres high.
It’s so impressive, and it makes you feel really small. You could spend all day in here, watching the sharks swimming straight at you, seeing the groupers glide past, and watching the rays interacting with each other.
Heading out from here, you find the seahorses, starfish and the jellyfish in a beautifully-lit-up display, which is mesmerising. As you carry on round, you end up back where the huge tube was full of fish, moray eels and rays. The walkway spirals down around the tube, and there are huge bean bags at the bottom which you can sit on, and watch everything around you.
You head through the freshwater tunnel and find yourself back in the jungle area, and find the “danger area” with poisonous frogs, millipedes and scorpions – every little boy’s dream! If you wish, you can go around the whole aquarium again.
There are so many exhibitions to see, that going around a couple of times is recommended. The Nemo snack bar and Nestor restaurant are both great, with everything from a quick sandwich, to a full à-la-carte menu.
This is one of the most modern aquariums in the world. As a scuba diver, I love the underwater world, and I have never been anywhere as impressive. It’s also nice to see that they are doing work in here with endangered species, to help reintroduce them into the wild.
Open every day from 9am-6pm, this is a must for the family visiting Gran Canaria, or on a day trip from Tenerife (you can buy a twin ticket with Loro Parque). Allow yourself a good few hours for your visit, to enjoy the whole experience, fully.
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