Review - Visiting Sealife Adventure (Southend's Aquarium)

Sealife Adventure Zooquarium is on the sea front of Southend-On-Sea Essex. It is quite a small aquarium, but there is a great range of sealife and animals to see. It's not just fish, in fact they have called themselves a “Zooquarium” because they have animals like penguins, monkeys and butterflies. You wont spend the whole day at Sealife Adventure, but there is plenty to do and see nearby as well as the beach to enjoy so it is worth a visit if you are in Southend with children. 

The front of Sealife adventure Zooquarium in Southend on Sea
Sealife Adventure in Southend is more than an Aquarium

Visiting Sealife Adventure Zooquarium In Southend With Children

Why Is Southend Aquarium A Good Place To Visit With Children?

  • It is easy to get around with young children.
  • It caters well to children with lots of interactive exhibits and low level tanks.
  • It has a wide range of animals to look at including; penguins, meerkats, giant tortoises, sharks, monkeys and animatronic dinosaurs. 
  • A stand-out feature is the walk through shark tunnel where you can look up at the sharks swimming overhead.
  • Another great section is the butterfly enclosure, large butterflies often land on the visitors as they flutter around. 
Some aquariums at Sealife Adventure
Find out more about marine life at Sealife Adventure

close up of a tropical butterfly feeding
The butterfly enclosure has beautiful butterflies which often land on you

The shark tunnel at Sealife Adventure Zooquarium
Watch shark swim above you as you walk through the tunnel

What Is There To See and Do At Sealife Adventure?

Sealife Adventure is situated on Southend sea front, on a fairly small plot in comparison to other aquariums/zoos, which is ideal with little children as you can lap the entire venue twice in one visit. 

As you explore the Zooquarium you will see a variety of species of animals. There are plenty of tanks full of beautiful tropical fish and sea creatures as well as more local ocean dwellers. Highlights include: walking through the shark tunnel, getting up close and personal with the penguins, and the butterfly enclosure. 

Dinosaur lovers will adore the animatronic exhibit with a range of dinosaurs which move and make sound, and beneath the bridge/ pathway that you walk on, there is a fish tank filled with crocs and other large fish.

Information is available as you enter the aquarium about what times they are holding talks about different animal species that day. If you time it right, you can get a chance to see animals up close and learn more about them, with information shared by an expert zookeeper. 

There is a cafe on site which serves cakes, coffees, hot doughnuts and standard fast food like fish, chips, nuggets etc. There is information about allergies is on their website. Only one vegan option was visible (veggie nuggets). There are plenty of other places to get great food and drink nearby if you don't want to eat in the cafe.

View of the cafe till area with drinks and snacks
There is a cafe in the aquarium or plenty of places to eat outside

What Age Children Will Enjoy Visiting Sealife Adventure?

The venue caters well for young children and families: the exhibits are mostly all at a low level, and interactive quizzes and talks are aimed at young children (approximately 5-10years).  It’s a fairly small venue which older children may whizz through quickly.

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

Yes, most doors even have a disabled button for easy access. The whole venue is ramped so you won’t have to get the pushchair up stairs. Babies will love staring at the fish swimming around.

A large open fish tank with a ray swimming in it
There are plenty of different types of fish to see

A meerkat enclosure at Sealife adventure zooquarium
and animals too (can you spot a meerkat?)

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Sealife Adventure

  • Sealife Adventure is not part of the Merlin Entertainment SEALIFE Centres so you can’t use your Merlin pass or Merlin 2 for 1 vouchers for entry, however entry is significantly cheaper at Sealife Adventure making it a great aquarium to visit.
  • Children under 90cm are free, tickets on the door are £14 for everyone else (or £12 online)
  • You can get an annual pass in advance for £16 . 
  • Adventure Island annual pass holders get a discount on tickets at Sealife Adventure.
  • The entry fee you pay is for the entire day. So you can come and go as you please as long as you keep the wristband on. If you would rather not eat at the cafe indoors, you could take a picnic straight out on to the beach, and then return to Sealife Adventure Zooquarium afterwards for another look around.
  • It is open all year round except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm (but last entry is at 4pm).
  • The temperature around the zooquarium changes quite a bit, with the butterfly enclosure particularly warm. If visiting in cooler months it is a good idea to dress in layers as children will want to take some clothes off. 
  • The gift shop is by the entrance/ exit so it is hard to avoid, but there are some low cost items like stationery and animal figurines if your children insist on getting something. 


There are toilets and a baby changing facility, but on the reviewers visit (which wasn’t at a busy time of year) the cleanliness was not great. The baby change facility is small and there isn’t enough space for a double buggy. There was a chair and footstool in the room for breastfeeding, but it was in poor condition and it would be more pleasant to feed a baby in the cafe or on other seating.
(This view is based on a single visit, if you find the facilities in better condition I would love to hear from you).  

Is it dog friendly?

No, only guide dogs are welcomed.

A moving dinosaur in Sealife Adventure Southend above an open fish tank
There are some moving dinosaurs 

How to get to Sealife Adventure and Where to Park

Address: Sealife Adventure Zooquarium, Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2ER

It’s very easy to find using a sat nav, and there are also brown attraction signs which signpost it’s location as you get closer.  The building itself is brightly coloured and easy to spot on the seafront.


There is lots of parking for Southend sea front, but no dedicated car park for the aquarium. In the cooler months you can easily park right outside, but in summer months you will need to arrive early for your best chance at parking near the beach. If you can't get a parking space on the seafront then there is plenty of parking towards the town centre and this is often cheaper. 

Parking is pay and display or payment via app (MOBON).

View from the sea across the beach to Sealife Adventure
Sealife Adventure Zooquarium is right next to Southend Beach

Where Else Is There To Go Nearby Sealife Adventure?

  • Southend is a popular seaside destination so there is plenty of typical British seaside activities to do nearby the aquarium. Some of the attractions are seasonal, but many are open all year. 
  • There is plenty of beach to enjoy.
  • Southend pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world and has its own railway line or you can take a stroll along it. 
  • Adventure Island has plenty of rides and attractions both inside and out. These include thrill rides, a massive soft play, arcades and mini golf. If you want to go on rides it’s worth buying your wristband in advance to save money. There is also bowling in Southend.
  • Southend's Central Museum is free and about 10 minutes walk away. It contains a planetarium, but shows must be prebooked (and paid for)
  • Outside of Southend it’s a short drive to Hadleigh Castle and Hadleigh Farm Rare Breeds Centre. 

Photographs and recommendation made by Meghan who runs local softplay hire and can be found on Instagram as @tipiandtedsoftplay

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