In a word
Sea Life Brighton opened in 1872 and is the oldest operating aquarium in the world, although it is now part of the SeaLife chain and branded and marketed with all the hallmarks of a global franchise. Located underground, near the pier, the beautiful vaulted room of granite and marble is a wonder in itself. It is home to over 150 different sea creatures, from sharks to seahorses, in the rainforest waters of the cold North Atlantic. The new Secrets of the Reef exhibit features more Finding Nemo clownfish than you could possibly get from a Pixar script – find out how fiercely territorial they are about their anemone. Or you can tickle a crab and stroke a starfish in the interactive pool.
The best thing about it
The 170,000-gallon lagoon contains a 76-year-old giant turtle, a giant stingray, and 13 sharks that you can float above in a glass-bottom boat – or watch through a glass tunnel that passes below.
The most dangerous creatures in the aquarium aren’t sharks – they would most likely be afraid of you – but the fantastically named rabbitfish, a cute little thing with yellow and black markings that have thorns on their backs that release them. a venom the equivalent of a very nasty bee sting.
What about lunch?
The cafe offers a kids’ lunch for £ 4.95 – bagel, smoothie, crisps, fruit.
Exit through the gift shop?
There is only one way to surface …
Value for money?
Book online and save up to 30%. The £ 11.50 ticket gets you 15% off the gift shop, and kids under three are free. The £ 14.50 ticket includes the behind-the-scenes tour.
Brighton train station is a 10-15 minute walk away. All car journeys into Brighton lead to the seafront and there is a street and multi-story car park nearby. Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., last admission 5 p.m., visitsealife.com/brighton