Tynemouth Aquarium Review

 This post is based on a visit in November 2023. Please check with venue direct for the most up-to-date information, especially regarding prices and opening hours. 



Tynemouth Aquarium Review



One of the first posts on this website was a review of Tynemouth Aquarium (back then it was Blue Reef). 10 years ago, I paid £18 (with some money off vouchers) for us to visit and felt like it was a bit of a rip off. 

We did go back though as our family used to foster and with our MAX Card back then we were able to gain free or very heavily reduced entry which didn't feel too bad (I'm not sure if this is still the case). It was canny to add onto a beach trip or as a rainy day out when we needed to get out of the house. 

However fast-forward to today and the entry fee for one visit for the 5 of us would be a whopping £83.75! That's s full £35 more than paying for us all to visit Hall Hill Farm for the day or £14 more than an annual pass for us all to visit Beamish. I mean this just seems crazy to me!

It doesn't help that children are classed as under 13 at the aquarium where as most other attractions count children as under 16. 

Comparing like for like (as much as you can), the Deep in Hull which many people say is fantastic would be just £7 more for us yet that would be for an annual pass. Standard entry to Scarbrough Sealife for us would be £3 more but they do seem to run regular deals. 

Kids Go Free with Kids Pass Offer 


If you sign up to Kids Pass (they often run £1 free trials), you can claim a Kids Go Free deal at Tynemouth Aqaurium so it's definitely worth looking into this. You can only use one voucher per admission transaction though. My own children are all over 12 though so I wouldn't personally benefit from this deal. 

Tynemouth Aquarium Admission 


It had been a good few years since I had visited though and I was intrigued to see what it was like. I also thought it would be helpful to share an updated review so you could make up your own mind about visiting. 

90% of people will say that it's not worth a visit so I didn't want to pay to visit with my teens and just visited alone. It was £16.75 for my admission.  You can come and go across the day. 

I spent 30 minutes there and that included fish feeding. I didn't rush through. That is 55p per minute.


If you compare this with something like the cinema where I would typically pay £5 for a 2 hour film, that's 4p a minute. It's a huge difference! Even somewhere like Alton Towers (which also has a small SEALIFE aquarium included), it's £35 for standard day entry and you're likely to spend a full day there (so 10p a minute if you spend 6 hours there).


Objectively, it's very expensive and most other days out do offer better value for money. You can check current prices here. Under 3s go free. 


Tynemouth Aquarium Cafe 


I will start with the cafe which is free for anyone to visit without paying admission. I really wasn't impressed. It was a bit on the grubby side (although I will say they have a 5* food hygiene rating) and the prices were very expensive. £3.35 for an Americano! £15.50 for a Margarita Pizza?

Pizzas and coffee at Tynemouth Castle Inn next door are actually cheaper and I think most of the cafes in the immediate area are probably cheaper too.  I just can't recommend the cafe, I'd go somewhere else. 

Even at The View across the road which also offers panoramic beach views, an Americano is £2.90. 






Tynemouth Aquarium - What to Expect 


They run various talks and feeds agross the day. You're not going to be able to stay and watch them all (waiting around would be torture!) but as your ticket allows re-entry on the same day, you could spend the day in Tynemouth - maybe combine with the beach / park / priory and pick a few talks to return for to maximise your day out. 

Check posters on arrival for that day's timings. 



The aquarium is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and most of the exhibits can be viewed from any level. There is an accessible toilet, blue badge parking and carers go free. This is all good to see. 

Little ones can also help themselves to a little step on arrival which may help with their view as you walk around. 



Mississipi River


This exhibition shares some of the wildlife you will find in the Mississipi River including Terrapins, Turtles and Piranhas. It's interesting to see something a little more exotic and I liked the addition of the viewing telescope which you can push down into the water to get a better view. 


















St Mary's Island 

In this section you can learn about some of the sealife you may find locallly 



There are a couple of hands on activities and photo ops as you walk through the aquarium but I wouldn't say there were loads. 





Weird & Wonderful 

In this section you will see - you guessed it, some weird and wonderful sealife including little shrimp.





River Giants 

The River Giants is one of the more impressive exhibits and includes some of the huge fish which are native to South America. I manage to catch feeding time and visitors are invited to feed the fish with the keeper - I'd recommend looking out for this talk. 







There's quite a lot of info to read as you walk around and I'd say the aquarium is a pretty educational day out. 












Tropical Seas 

In the Tropical Seas section you can expect to see some pretty and brightly coloured fish (including Nemos). 







And there's an area where you can get an alternative view of the Ocean Tunnel with Sharks. 












Amazing Amazon 

This section has changed from when I used to take the kids and feels smaller now. You can see Marmaset and Tortoises amongst other animals. 










Endangered Zone & Predators 

Here you will learn about sealife disappearing from our waters and how to help plus some pretty unsuspecting predators...... 

Seal Cove & Hospital

This is the best part of the aquarium in my opinion. Seals are a big part of North Tyneside and can usually be found in the wild by St Mary's Island. This exhibition heavily focuses on how we can help our local seals, the importance of not disturbing them and how to view them safely. 

Seals are just adorable and they are really cute to watch. It's worth catching the Seal Talk to learn more although I will say, we could watch this from our balcony for free when we stayed at Tynemouth Castle Inn next door too. 






As far as I can see, Tynemouth Aquarium is not a registered charity but they do work with local community groups and charities with their seal hospital. 

Visitors cannot enter the seal hospital but you can sometimes see some of the seals which are on bed rest before being re-released back into the wild. 

The seal hospital is just such a vital resource for our community and I am so pleased we have this. They do fantastic work in helping injured seals from our coastline and rehabilitating them before they are released back into the wild. 


For this reason, I kind of see my entry fee like a donation to help them and this takes the sting out of it a little. 

















Playground 

There is a small playground with outdoor seating (you can get takeaway from the cafe) which will add to your visit in the warmer months (although there is also a bigger free playground along the road). 





Deadliest Fish 

In this section you can look out for and read about some of the world's deadliest fish who like to hide in the coral. 



Coral Garden 

Here you can admire the beautiful coral and discover why they are so vital. 





Ocean Tunnel 

The Ocean Tunnel is the big finale and a favourite with visitors who can walk through as Sharks, Rays and other sealife swim right above your heads. 

I don't think you can see real sharks anywhere else in the North East like this and if your kids love sharks, this will be a wow moment for them. 















Gift Shop 

There is a well-stocked gift shop at the exit (you have to walk through it to leave). 



Is Tynemouth Aquarium Worth a Visit? 

This is very subjective but I will do my best to share my thoughts. Is it a good value day out? Overall, I would say no. It's just too expensive and you would struggle to spend over an hour there. I would definitely not pay over £80 to visit with my own family. 

I know a lot of kids won't read all of the information and will walk through at a steady pace, admiring the fish and be done in around 20 mins. To me, that's not good value. If your kids are the type to read every single board, they will get more out of it. 

Did I enjoy visiting myself? Yes I did and I enjoyed some me time which was mindful, peaceful and educational and I adored seeing the seals and learning about the work the hospital does. I did feel it was expensive but I did enjoy myself. I would visit again by myself in a few years time if I wanted some time out from the world. 

If I was on a budget and money was tight, I wouldn't visit. There are LOADS of better value and free indoor attractions to enjoy in the North East. I would recommend just visiting Ouseburn Farm and the fish at Pets at Home if you wanted a free alternative. 

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If I had disposable income to spend on treat and younger kids, I would probably pay for myself and a toddler (under 3s go free) or use the Kids Pass Kids Go Free Deal to visit as a treat - maybe as part of a birthday celebration or something.

Little ones love this kind of thing as a day out and although I still feel like it's pricey, £16.75 for an adult and toddler / adult, free child and toddler could be worse. 

Once you start adding additional school aged children/teens/extra adults into the mix though, it still feels too expensive for me to visit which is a real shame! 

If I was going to visit, I would definitely try and plan a trip around one of their special events which usually run in school holidays to try and get extra value for money. 

A few families with children who have additional needs have commented that they love visiting as it's a calm place for them. I know when we visited with our Foster child he loved it too and in this case, I would prioritise somewhere like this over other days out he may have found overwhelming (just note that sometimes school trips can be in attendance before 2pm). 

Tynemouth Aquarium is a rare attraction that is open daily and is only closed on Christmas Day so it is somewhere that is always there and open. It's also easy to get to by bus, metro or public transport. 

You can buy an annual pass which is just over £50 for an adult. This may be worth considering if you live locally and you have a toddler. If you visit once a month which doesn't feel OTT, it works out at just over £4 a visit which feels like good value. I live around a 40 minute drive away though so for me, it's not worth it.

Finally, the conservation and educational aspect of the aquarium is really important and I did try and keep this in mind that I was contributing to this with my entrance fee as I walked around. 


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A very honest review of Tynemouth Aquarium





Alternative Aqauriums 


As mentioned earlier, the Deep at Hull receives excellent reviews.

I've visited a few SEA LIFE aquariums across the UK over the years and have put a guide to them all here: The Best SEA LIFE aquariums.

Brighton and Loch Lomond are my personal favourites. 

Brighton SEA LIFE


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