National Marine Aquarium

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth: Hours, Address, National Marine Aquarium Reviews: 4/5

National Marine Aquarium
4
Natural History Museums • Science Museums • Aquariums
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the UK’s largest aquarium, located in Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth. It is run by the Ocean Conservation Trust, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the Ocean.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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Popular mentions

4.0
2,576 reviews
Excellent
1,066
Very good
833
Average
403
Poor
166
Terrible
108

675Helicreature675
Cornwall, UK34 contributions
Jan 2022
I so wanted to be able to write a great review of this place as it was part of a long planned, special, family day out - but the truth is that it doesn't come close to other aquariums I've visited. It's really quite shabby and run down. It reminded me of zoos before we became more enlightened about how to keep animals. Add to that far too many people being allowed in at the allocated times, making it very difficult to get close enough to see some of the exhibits, small and unlit signs, endless stairs and uneven floors to navigate - and I won't be hurrying back. I've only given it an average score because the very young staff were obviously doing their best and the view from the windows was fab!
Written January 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Helen M
Slough, UK7 contributions
Dec 2021 • Family
Enjoyed the wide variety of sealife and ways of observing it. Not too sure about your science “expert” describing string alkalis as “sweet” but we just skirted round that point.
Written January 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

GosieQ
Coventry, UK78 contributions
Jan 2022 • Family
Very small Aquarium. 1 hour is more than enough to see everything - so do not book car park for any longer time. Have seen about 7 different places like this in UK, but this one was the worst one. Birmingham Sea Life still is the best one!
Written January 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Parent
Cliveden, UK32 contributions
Dec 2021 • Family
Welcomed warmly by young man on the reception. Offered Locals Passes which we'll definitely be taking advantage of.
The cafe and toilets were situated just after reception. Reasonably priced food.
Our daughter fell and hit her head, several staff enquired after her and provided first aid. Very warm and kind.
The huge tanks of various fish and sharks certainly wowed my children. They were so excited it was hard for them to stay still until they lied on the floor to gaze at sting rays. Keeping them out of the open top pools of star fish and anemones was hard work too but it was clear that the attendants were used to this behaviour 😉
We missed the famous sea turtle on this visit but we're fascinated by the differing creatures.
We'll be back as a family to explore again.
Loved the sea views from the cafe!
Written December 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Simon K
Portsmouth, UK354 contributions
Nov 2021
Being in Plymouth on business over a long, cold but sunny weekend at the very end of November, 2021, I decided to make use of a free Sunday by visiting some of this fascinating city's tourist attractions.
I'd been to Plymouth whilst on holiday with my Grandparents during the mid-1960's (and can distinctly remember climbing Smeaton's Tower on The Hoe) but had never spent quality time in the "Ocean City" up until now.
I arrived at the National Marine Aquarium ("NMA") by the entrance to Sutton Harbour just after it opened at 10:00 hours, expecting to spend maybe two or three hours looking at the four main displays.
I ended up being thrown out by the staff just before they closed at 17:00 hours, complaining that I still hadn't had time to see everything.
Firstly, I wasn't expecting a long queue to get in but learned later that this is due to parents with young children who buy the option which allows free, unlimited return visits for twelve months, and then take full advantage of it,
Secondly, I was surprised by the relatively high price for an adult day ticket (£17:50) which increases by £2 if you "Gift Aid" it, but in view of how much there was to see, it actually offered good value for money.
There are four main showcase displays which focus initially on marine life in the shallow coastal waters of Plymouth Sound, followed by the slightly deeper seas around the Eddystone Rock, succeeded by a huge tank showing life in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, and finishing off with the brightly coloured little fish which frequent the warm, clear waters of a Coral Reef.
I must confess that I had studied Biology to Degree level and so was pleased to see comprehensive information boards giving scientifically-accurate information about the animals (and plants) in each tank.
The uniformed Aquarium staff were approachable and informative, answering all of my - possibly inane - questions as to how often are the Starfish fed, or why don't you have a live Giant Clam, with courtesy and good humour.
There's an outside picnic (and play) area with wooden tables where families can eat their packed lunches - although it did get a bit nippy when the wind got up - and inside there's a Cafe with panoramic views over the Cattewater and Plymouth's impressive Royal Citadel. I paid £2:75 for a Coffee and £2:99 for a slice of Chocolate Cake in Waves Cafe, which probably isn't unreasonable these days. The public toilets were scrupulously clean and well stocked with consumables.
The Aquarium is probably pitched for a younger audience but as a Biologist myself, I thought that my day there represented a good use of time and money.
The building itself is approached from the east by a long and narrow alleyway but it's lit at night and the Aquarium closes at 17:00 hours anyway, so nothing to worry about there.
If you're in Plymouth it's definitely worth visiting the NMA (preferably with a video recorder) as the two huge floor-to-ceiling fish tanks have to be seen to be believed!
Written December 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Luke
New Forest National Park Hampshire, UK7 contributions
Dec 2021 • Couples
I had foolishly read some reviews before I came that said the aquarium was "tired", "expensive", and only took half an hour to get round.

The aquarium is not tired at all, it is well kept up and the tanks were being cleaned by divers when we went. There were two very small exhibitions that were currently closed but that's completely acceptable as far as I am closed. The exhibitions are fantastic, the first one you come to which houses some seaside native to the UK is superb and then we go in to some of the bigger tanks which quite frankly are breath taking with rays, sharks, and turtles to name a few.

There are also videos and so much to read and it's all very interesting.

As for the price, at 19.50 for one trip it isn't that cheap but is comparable say to the sea life centre. Where is does offer fantastic value for money is that one ticket qualifies you for an annual membership which is obviously an absolute bargain.

Finally, the length of visit. If you have the attention span of a knat and just want to run round without looking or reading any if the exhibitions, it might take you half an hour. If you are intelligent enough and want to take an interest you can easily spend three hours here, as we did (and that's not including a visit to the excellent cafe, which has a very good omnivore and plant based menu).

Overall if you are genuinely interested in marine life and want to take an interest, I would heartily recommend this. If you are a tourist who wants to just be somewhere and run round somewhere quickly, maybe go somewhere else.
Written December 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

estelleManchester
manchester160 contributions
Dec 2021
More than an aquarium. It is great to be able to see the people working in the lab and the research they do. They have a really good variety of fish in there and I had never seen such large starfish. I particularly loved that there are a couple of floor to ceiling tanks with rows of seating. It is very calming to rest a while and appreciate the variety on display.
Written December 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

John
Letchworth, UK6 contributions
Dec 2021 • Couples
Great couple of hours spent here. Staff happy to answer questions and plenty of info boards. But best of all the enormous viewing windows. We sat and watched the sea creatures for ages…the more you look the more you see. Brilliant and so very relaxing
Written December 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Margaret S
Bideford, UK21 contributions
Nov 2021 • Friends
This was interesting but I had expected rather more from the NATIONAL Marine Aquarium. I have visited other aquariums that are more impressive. However the actual fish etc were beautiful. The building looked a bit tired, we had to queue outside on a cold day even though we had pre-booked tickets because one of the entry doors wasn't working and one of the 2 hand dryers in the ladies loo was out of order. The range of food on offer in the cafe was limited, the only tables free needed clearing and cleaning, some of the knives were grubby and the coffee dispenser only gave me a partly filled mug. However the staff were friendly and did clean our table when asked and got me a full mug of coffee. The toasted tea cake seemed to have come from a supermarket "savers" range very little spice or fruit and a bit dry.
Written November 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to review our attraction, together with our Charity we appreciate your feedback! We only use one door for queueing so there will be pre-paid and non paid customers all in the same queue so this may lead to longer waiting times, however there is enough staff on Admissions to let everyone in promptly. We hope you can use you Complimentary Return Pass to revisit us again. Team NMA.
Written December 3, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Katie Lou
Taunton, UK2 contributions
Nov 2021 • Family
Drove an hour and half for the aquarium visit to last 45 minutes. Was our little girls 1st birthday. So very disappointed. Bit of a lead on when it says the UK's biggest aquarium. Should have just taken her to soft play, would of lasted longer! Very expensive for what it actually is.
Written November 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
We're sorry you felt your experience wasn't satisfactory. We are the UK's largest aquarium with over 4000 animals and the UK's deepest tank. We hope you can use your Complimentary Annual Return Pass to revisit us again. All the best, Team NMA.
Written December 3, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about National Marine Aquarium

National Marine Aquarium is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM