After our recent trip to SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, we wanted to create an ultimate guide to help visitors or locals plan the ultimate family day out.
This was our first time as adults returning to an aquarium, and it’s safe to say we had as good a time as when we were kids. What seriously surprised us though was just how curious Oliver at just 9 months old was with all of the sea life. His eyes darted from fish to fish as he stared longingly into the vibrant enclosures.
SEA LIFE Melbourne is one of the main tourist attractions for visitors to Melbourne and there’s a good reason! It is chock-a-block full of amazing exhibits spanning 4 levels. And not just your average sharks, but penguins, crocodiles, turtles and more as well! Although the aquarium is nearly twenty years old, you wouldn’t know due to the constant addition of new features and exhibits, as well as a major update in 2015.
So whether your beating the summer heat, or the winter cold, or simply wanting a family outing; SEA LIFE Melbourne is a great family day out for not just the kids but for us big kids as well!
Table of Contents
How to get to SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is in a prime location on the bank of the Yarra River, directly opposite Crown Entertainment Complex. The building is instantly recognisable from its multi-story curved glass shape and giant fish logo sticking up into the air. The location makes it easy to get there with any mode of transport.
The city can be a bit chaotic at times and parking can be a nightmare. There’s no actual car parking at SEA LIFE, instead, they refer you to some nearby private carparks. These are pretty expensive around the $20 mark, so instead, we suggest parking at the Crown Casino Multi-Story Carpark from Sunday – Thursday. Entry is from 8 Whiteman Street.
This is a hidden gem of cheap parking in the Melbourne CBD and charges $6 for 5 hours (except for Fri & Sat where it’s a flat $21 all day). From here its a short 10 minute walk to SEA LIFE. Just make sure you go to the ‘Multi-Story Carpark’ and none of the others, as they are premium carparks for the high rollers.
If coming on a Friday or Saturday the Secure Parking at 522 Flinders Lane will be cheaper ($18 on Fri, $10 on Weekends). However, this price is only if you ask SEA LIFE for a Secure Parking discount ticket, which you enter into the machine when its time to pay.
You could always try and chance it with on-street parking, however, they are all generally full, have a 2-hour maximum and the parking inspectors are vicious in catching cars that have not paid the meter and overstaying. So your choice!
Being on the corner of King and Flinders Streets, arriving by Tram is easy and stops directly out the front of SEA LIFE. This tram line is serviced by route 70 and 75, however, the free City Circle Tram also stops there which is accessed from lots of points in the CBD and arrives every 10 minutes.
SEA LIFE Melbourne is ideally accessed by train, it is a short five to ten-minute walk from either of the main Melbourne train stations; Flinders Street Station & Southern Cross.
When is SEA LIFE Open
SEA LIFE is open every single day of the year and the opening times are as follows;
Monday – Friday
10am – 5.30pm (Last entry 4.30pm)
Weekends, School Holidays and Public Holidays
9.30am – 6pm (Last entry 5pm)
How kid friendly is SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
VERY! This place is built for kids and there are loads of kids activities and play areas throughout the whole aquarium. We were there during school holidays and it’s safe to say we saw a lot of extremely satisfied children running around from exhibit to exhibit, yelling out names of fish that we didn’t even know!
- It is pram accessible. Yep, you can cover the entire four levels by pram thanks to the wide paths. There are also lifts in areas with stairs so that you can move between levels.
- The displays are definitely suitable for all ages, Ollie was 9 months old and was absolutely fascinated by everything! He really loved the penguin enclosure though, and the penguins seemed to love him, always swimming up to him to get a closer look! So if we loved it, and he did, we’re sure everyone of all ages will love it!
- There are quite a number of interactive areas where little ones can learn or play through sensory experience.
- There is a lot of kid zones and hiding holes for the little ones to explore and get up close and pe rsonal to the sea life! We may have been a bit cheeky and looked from these vantage points too.
- Possibly what amazed us most about SEA LIFE was the parents’ rooms and how well equipped they were! They were super roomy with change tables and private feeding cubicles. The coolest part though was the vending machines. I know weird right. But they had everything you could possibly need for a little one, think nappies, medications and different baby foods and rusks!
- A 4D Cinema experience/ride is included! The short 10-minute movie, Ice Age: No Time For Nuts, has been designed especially for the 4D experience which includes 3D glasses, vibrating chairs, gusts of wind and smoke!
- You will also find high-chairs in the cafeteria for your use.
- Kids under 3 are free!
The experience at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
The aquarium is surprisingly bigger than it looks from the outside, actually spanning 4 levels! Once inside you are taken on an interactive underwater journey spanning 11 differently themed zones, encountering an immense variety of marine life from penguins to crocodiles and everything in between. It would be easy to get lost in the animals and spend hours exploring! Make sure to check out the schedule because their are daily feeds and talks that you can attend.
The main attractions are;
Bay of Rays
You’ll begin your under the sea adventure at the Bay of Rays. This area highlights the creatures residing in Melbournes Port Phillip Bay that you try and forget that they’re swimming with you! Fiddler Rays and the Port Jackson shark are just some of the sea life you will see floating around. There’s also a crawl-through area allowing kids to pop their head into the tank from underneath and have a look around.
You can just tell the young ones would love this section, getting their hands wet and learning about marine life. You’ll be able to touch sea stars and shark eggs in this interactive sanctuary, then check out the Mangrove Nursery where you’ll find the baby fish! There’s a rocky reef talk at 12:30 pm.
This area is a kaleidoscope of colour, seriously, both in fish and coral. Wandering through the Coral Caves you’ll be presented by the famous Nemo (or as they’re really called Clown Fish), blobbing jellyfish and amazing looking Lion Fish, amongst many more crazy looking animals! Don’t leave before you see the enormous Moray Eel, super creepy!
Once you reach the massive 2.2 million litre Oceanarium you’ll feel like an underwater creature yourself, as you walk through the glass viewing tunnels and come face to face with enormous sharks, stingrays and a plethora of multi-coloured fish. You’ll even spot the scary looking grey nurse and sawtooth shark! We hung around in this area for a good hour just watching all the animals hanging out together floating around. Make sure to stop into Shipwreck Explorer on the way through. It is a seated theatre type area looking into the oceanarium host to ‘The Let’s Talk Ocean Predators’ presentation which is held 4 times a day at 12, 1, 2 and 3 pm.
One of the most surprising aspects of the aquarium is the enormous crocodile lair, home to Pinjarra, one of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles! Its lair spans two levels, featuring pop up holes for the younger ones to ‘pop’ their heads up into the tank and get up close and personal. From the top level, you can get an amazing jaw-dropping top-down view thanks to the glass floor. There are daily talks at Crocodile Lair at 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Next up you will find the Coral Atoll, a floor to ceiling fish bowl host to a huge range of colourful fish and coral. The best bit though, the onsite restaurant looks right at it! It’s not every day you can say you dined under the sea! Try and spot the Southern Blue Tang a.k.a Dory from Finding Nemo.
Here in the Rainforest Adventure, you will suddenly feel like you are in the middle of the rainforest. Lush tropical plants grow and a big billabong (lagoon) fills much of the space. In this area, you will find all number of rainforest animals from turtles to snakes, lizards, frogs and more. Don’t miss the turtle feeds held at 2:30 pm daily.
It’s no surprise what curious creatures you will find in Seahorse Pier! The unique and curious multi-coloured seahorses and sea dragons gracefully float around. Fun fact; seahorses are some of few monogamous creatures in the animal kingdom and like penguins, they mate for life. In this area, you will also find SEA LIFE’s internationally recognised Weedy Seadragon breeding program exhibit.
Another stand out section is the massive Antarctic exhibit, Penguin Playground. This large icy enclosure is full of the majestic King and Gentoo Penguins, who slide around on the snow-covered ice. They also have a large pool to show off all their tricks, twisting and twirling through the water. This was probably Ollie’s favourite spot as the penguins seemed especially interested in him, and him them! Don’t miss the feed and talk during Meet the Keeper at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm every day.
What extra experiences are available
There are a variety of extra paid experiences that are available (admission is included if you choose to do one) to get up close and personal with some of the marine life found at SEA LIFE.
Shark Dive Extreme (ages 14+)
This sounds absolutely crazy cool, no cages, just you and your instructors in the enormous oceanarium swimming with sharks, giant stingrays and more! You won’t just be swimming with one type of shark either, think a Grey Nurse Shark, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Sandbar Whalers, Largetooth Sawfish, Enormous rays, Groupers, Cod and much more. There’s no previous diving experience required and the instructors will give you a briefing and training to make sure you know what you are doing!
- Introduction to scuba diving, briefing and training session (approx. 90 minutes)
- 30 minute dive time with our creatures of the deep
- All dive equipment & wetsuit
- All day admission to explore SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
$299 Per Person
Penguin Passport (ages 14+)
Fancy yourself a penguin lover, why not get onto the ice with them and hang out for a 45-minute penguin encounter. Have no fear, SEA LIFE will suit you up in snow gear to make sure you don’t freeze in the sub-Antarctic conditions! You will get a behind the scenes look at what goes into taking care of the penguins and their food preparation as well how their enclosure stays freezing cold! Once on the ice, you will experience the life of the King and Gentoo penguin colonies! This tour runs daily at 2 pm however only takes 4 people, so SEA LIFE recommends booking early if you want to do this.
- A 45-minute unique experience
- Go behind the scenes and learn how we take care of our King and Gentoo Penguins
- Suit up in our snow gear and go on the ice with the colony in their habitat
- All day admission to explore SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium included
$149 per person
Glass Bottom Boat (ages 4+)
If diving with the creatures of the deep isn’t quite your thing, you can always float on the top of them. The Glass Bottom Boat Tour takes you right over the top of the Oceanarium. Making this experience extra unique is that your guide hand-feeds the enormous stingrays and they glide right alongside the boat! As well as the rays you will be in awe staring at the sharks and other marine life floating so close below you. The tour runs twice daily at 12 pm and 1 pm and has a maximum of 7 people per tour. You’ll also get a bit of a behind the scenes tour as you walk through the aquarium’s food preparation area, vet lab, and dive zone.
- A 60-minute unique experience*
- Get access to the back of house, staff-only areas
- Hop aboard the Glass Bottom Boat above our 2.2 million litre Oceanarium
- Meet the stingrays, and watch your guide hand-feed the rays
- All day admission to explore SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium included
$62 Per Adult and $40.40 Per Child. However, if you prebook online it is cheaper.
VIP Tours (ages 4+)
For the ultimate aquarium experience, there’s no beating the VIP tours. They run for two hours and are fully guided by a Marine Biologist, filling you in with all the facts. You’ll have a completely new understanding for all the animals found throughout the aquarium as you are privately escorted through all areas of SEA LIFE.
You will also get to experience the Glass Bottom Boat tour mentioned above and the included behind the scenes look into the workings of the aquarium. VIP Tours run daily at 1 pm.
- All-day admission to SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
- 2 hour private guided tour by a marine biologit
- Glass Bottom Boat experience
- Behind the Scenes experience
- SEA LIFE Melbourne show bag
- SEA LIFE Melbourne VIP Lanyard
- SEA LIFE Melbourne photo-book
- VIP Benefits (complimentary hot beverage, Virtual Reality experience & retail store discounts)
$149 Per Adult & $99 Per Child
Is there food available at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium?
The Adventurer’s Cafe is located right beside the Coral Atoll floor to ceiling fishbowl, so you can dine while feeling under the sea! The Cafe has a wide range of hot and cold foods “including burgers, wraps, fish and chips and tasty fresh made salads! As well as an assortment of baked items such as cakes and muffins, as well as ice creams and smaller treats.” They also have plenty of kid-friendly meals such as crumbed chicken strips, fish and toasties.
However, we prefer to bring our own food to places like this to save money as they can often be pretty expensive.
How much does SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium Cost
For the best price, we recommend pre-purchasing your entry ticket online. This also gives you priority entry avoiding the often large queues. At the time of publishing the prices were;
Adults: $42 (If you book online the price is discounted to $33.60 for midweek tickets)
Children (ages 3-12): $28 (If you book online the price is discounted to $22.40)
Under 3’s are Free
Is SEA LIFE Eco-Friendly
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is aimed at educating and inspiring the world all about our oceans and marine creatures. As such education is a pivotal part of the aquarium experience hoping that someday soon in the future, the worlds oceans will be healthy, properly cared for and respected. It is a significant step in raising the next generation of marine lovers.
They also have a partnership with the SEA LIFE Trust and follow through on various conservation campaigns. We’re a Melbourne attraction that cares deeply about oceans and marine creatures; we want all our visitors to love the ocean and all the creatures in it as much as we do. Our vision is a world where our oceans are healthy and properly protected, which is why Education is central to our aquarium experience. These processes include scientific research and inspiring education, championing for plastic-free oceans, sustainable fishing practices, effective Marine Protected Areas and an end to over-exploitation of marine life through world class captive breeding programs.
Situated on the banks of the, The features an indoor with across the city. The elegant interior includes a grand marble staircase, cascading fountains and magnificent chandeliers. This super luxe hotel is in an awesome location and just 10 minutes walk from the aquarium.
Rising above’s vibrant Southbank precinct, offers with of the city or Port Phillip Bay. Each room features original artworks and marble bathrooms. Each room includes a large plasma-screen TV with laptop video-on-demand system, an iPod docking station, and a separate dressing room. The city and bay views are framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. Crown Towers are located directly opposite SEA Life on the other side of the river, a short stroll away.
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