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£9.45

Exploris Aquarium Visitors Center & Seal Sanctuary

The Rope Walk, Castle Street, Portaferry

Available all year

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★★★★★ Average Rating: 5 16 Ratings

  • Indoor
  • Everyone
  • Schedule

TinyTours offers Exploris tickets at discounted rate. Book online now to get the best prices. Exploris Aquarium is Northern Ireland's only aquarium and seal sanctuary featuring a fully licensed restaurant, events programme and gift shop.
 

A sunken galleon, friendly sharks and a snappy crocodile all-star in Northern Ireland’s only aquarium and seal rehabilitation centre.

 

Located 1 hour from Belfast on the shores of Strangford Lough visitors to Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry will be wowed with a diver’s view of marine life from around the world. Your journey at Exploris Aquarium will begin with a focus on the lough and the Irish Sea where you will get ‘hands on’ with our native species as you tickle the belly of a small shark and feel the spikes on a sea urchin, along with learning about the Viking heritage of Strangford Lough.

 

What to expect at Exploris

The colourful coral reefs in the Tropical Ocean zone play host to over 100 species and our team of aquarists and guides are always on hand to answer your questions and provide some interesting information on many of the aquaria that you will encounter.

 

Outside in the enclosures, our family of Asian Short Clawed Otters remain a big hit with visitors, while the Seal Sanctuary continues to be exceptionally busy with 22 seals being successfully rehabilitated and released back to their native habitat for the 2016/17 season.

 

Whilst at Exploris Aquarium make sure to grab your expedition passport before you set off on your journey through the zones where you will meet our clownfish, sharks, rays and much more. Keep look out for the interactive stations, answer the trivia questions and stamp your expedition passport as you go!

  

Kids soft play area

Don’t forget to explore Jiggly Jellies, a two-tier aquatic themed indoor soft play area with distinct zones for babies, toddlers and juniors up to 8 years old. Jiggly Jellies is packed with numerous exciting features including slides, ball pools, climbers, swings and roller squeezers and is guaranteed to provide endless fun for the little ones.

  

How long is the tour?

The tour is self-guided and you can take your time at Exploris to enjoy the experience. Typically, it takes around 1-1.5 hours for the main exhibitions.

 

At the end of your exploring why not stop off in The Craken fully licensed café? Grab a freshly cooked meal - to energise you for the day ahead or to refuel following your visit.

 

Opening Hours

Mon-Sun: 10am – 5pm
Last admission: 4pm

 

Quiet Sessions
Mon-Sun: 4pm – 5pm

The Craken Cafe & Restaurant closes at 4pm

 

How to get there by Car

Exploris is located in Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula. The full address is Exploris Aquarium, The Rope Walk, Castle St, Portaferry BT22 1NZ, UK. 


It takes around 1 hour to get to Exploris from Belfast via Newtonards / Bangor. Click here for Google Map / Directions.

 

Parking

There is a public carpark adjacent to Exploris which offers limited free parking onsite. The car park can be accessed by following Exploris signs.

 

If you are coming from the Downpatrick side of Strangford Lough we would advise coming as a foot passenger on the ferry as Exploris is only a 2-minute walk from the quay.

 

Alternatively, why not explore the Ards Peninsula after visiting Exploris and you will be amazed by many attractions, activities and eateries that are available to you.

Accessibility 

All areas of Exploris are fully accessible. Our staff will endeavour to accommodate any wheelchair user to ensure they get the best out of their visit. We have 3 wheelchairs onsite which can be reserved on request by contacting the Exploris ticketing office on: 028 4272 8062.


The cafe is accessible by wheelchair users via a lift from the ground floor and visitors can enjoy the view over the outdoor pools and otter enclosure.

 

The Exploris gift shop is also full accessible and is location on the ground floor and our friendly team are available to offer assistance, should you need it. There is also limited seating areas throughout the Aquarium which can be seen as rest points on the tour.

 

Additional facilities including disabled car parking spaces, disabled toilets and discounted admission for necessary carers are designed to be accessible to guests with disabilities.

 
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View Terms & Conditions

Terms & Conditions

Occasionally within the site you may find other rules or terms relating to specific material which may conflict with or contradict these terms and conditions. These could be rules for competitions, specific download requirements, or prize draws, for example. If there is any conflict then the rules or terms relating to specific material will win out over the more general terms and conditions.

The management reserves the right to refuse admission
Once purchased, tickets cannot be transferred, exchanged or refunded.

Ticket holders for Exploris tickets (including disabled guests and groups and schools) must arrive at Reception no less than 15 minutes prior to their booked time.

Latecomers may not be admitted to the Exploris except at the absolute discretion of Exploris. There is a zero tolerance policy on Halloween Bookings.

Exploris will use its reasonable endeavours to be open and operational during published opening hours but reserves the right to close the Attraction on any given day or part thereof, whether for security or any other reason, without notice. In the event of such closure, any Tickets issued for use only on the day of closure will be exchanged or refunded by Exploris at the price paid for them but no further compensation will be paid.

In the event of a delay to a tour or performance due to circumstance beyond the control of Exploris no refund will be given if it can proceed within that remainder of the day scheduled.

Visitors are reminded that from time to time parts of the Attraction may be closed for maintenance or for technical reasons. Tickets will not be refunded and no compensation will be paid in the event of such closures.

Proof of entitlement for certain Ticket types may be required for entry (for example, to qualify for the Student Concession Ticket a valid NUS card or valid Internationally Recognised Student ID should be produced). This also applies to OAP's and Carers.

Visitors should be aware that there may be school groups or private community / commercial bookings in the attraction during a visit.
Exploris reserves the right to alter any offers and promotions without notice.

No promotions and special offers are valid on Bank Holidays.

The management reserves the right to remove a customer from the building if their behaviour is considered likely to either cause offence or create a nuisance to other visitors or staff. No refund will be available in this case.

Exploris reserves the right to alter admission prices and opening times without notice. Visitors are reminded that from time to time parts of the Attraction may be closed for maintenance or for technical reasons. Tickets will not be refunded and no compensation will be paid in the event of such closures.

Children

  • The Exploris Visitor Attraction is suitable for children.
  • All children under the age of 3 are admitted free to the attraction.
  • Children under the age of 16 should be accompanied at all times by an adult over the age of 18.
  • Parents with young children are welcome in Exploris.
  • Buggies may be taken anywhere in the attraction via lift to 2nd floor.

Visitor Health and Safety
Exploris staff may draw visitor’s attention to certain Health & Safety procedures to which Visitors must adhere to. Visitor Conduct
Exploris reserves the right to prosecute any persons found damaging or defacing any part of the Attraction.

Visitors are required to observe the following prohibitions while at the Attraction:

  • No smoking
  • No pets or animals except for guide dogs and hearing dogs.
  • No consumption of food or drink inside the attraction (except bottled water) without the express permission of Exploris.
  • No access to any area of the Attraction other than areas designated for access by Visitors.
  • No use of illegal drugs or consumption of alcohol except in authorised places and in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003.

Security
In the interests of safety, Visitors may be asked to submit to a search of their person or belongings and anyone refusing to submit or found to be in possession of materials believed by Exploris to be dangerous or unsuitable will be denied entry or removed from the Attraction.

Visitors must keep their personal belongings with them at all times and Exploris accepts no responsibility for loss, theft or damage to any personal belongings brought into the Attraction.

Photography
Flash photography is strictly prohibited within the area displays, no video or voice recording is permitted. Amateur photography without flash is allowed.

From time to time Exploris or other authorised third parties may carry out photography or other recording at the Attraction and any images or recordings may feature Visitors. Visitors consent to the use of such images by Exploris in connection with advertising, promotions or monitoring and acknowledge that the copyright in such images rests with Exploris and/or any authorised third party.

ACCESSIBILITY

All areas of Exploris are fully accessible. Our staff will endeavour to accommodate any wheelchair user to ensure they get the best out of the tour.

There are limited seating areas throughout the Aquarium which can also be seen as rest points on the tour.

The Reception Area is located at the front of the Aquarium; all tickets can be purchased here.

Limited car parking facilities are located in the park adjacent to Exploris.

Parking
Exploris offer free limited parking onsite which is open from 8am to 6pm daily. The car park will be open for some larger evening events. The car park can be accessed by following Exploris signs.

Wheelchairs
Exploris is wheelchair accessible in all areas. Exploris has 2 wheelchairs onsite which can be reserved on request by contacting our ticketing office on: 028 4272 8062.

The below facilities are designed to be accessible to guests with disabilities including:

  • Disabled Car Parking Spaces
  • Disables toilets.
  • Provision of seating at various points throughout the Aquarium.
  • Wheelchairs available or visitors to borrow if booked in advance.
  • Necessary carers are admitted at a discounted rate.

Toilet Facilities
There are accessible toilet facilities in the following areas:

  • Cafe
  • Tour route

All accessible toilets have emergency alarms and communication points which go back to a 24hr manned security room.

Facilities for those with hearing loss
Exploris provides a printed version of our script which is available on request. Hearing Dogs are welcome.

Facilities for those who are blind or partially sighted
Exploris offers a discounted Carers Policy, whereby it offers a discounted carer ticket to any customer who requires essential assistance to visit our building. Guide Dogs are welcome.

Carers
Exploris operates a discounted Carers Policy, whereby it offers a discounted carer ticket to any customer who requires essential assistance to visit our building.

Customer Ratings

★★★★★ Average Rating: 5 16 Ratings
  • ★★★★★5 A Great Day Out
    Review by Arlene McAteer in Dec 2019

    The seals and otters are great to see at feeding times and the tanks are full of fish, ray’s and a shark. Theres even a crocodile who is small at th…

    The seals and otters are great to see at feeding times and the tanks are full of fish, ray’s and a shark. Theres even a crocodile who is small at the minute but was told he’d grow to 16ft. All in all I’d definitely recommend it for a fun day out.

  • ★★★★★5 A Great Trip For All Ages!
    Review by Joe Harris in Dec 2019

    We took our three kids (8,6 & 3) and had a top time. Staff were great and even though it was quite busy they made a real effort to ensure all queries …

    We took our three kids (8,6 & 3) and had a top time. Staff were great and even though it was quite busy they made a real effort to ensure all queries were answered from all the visitors.

  • ★★★★★5 Fabulous Refurbishment
    Review by Marina H in Dec 2019

    We had a wonderful time, brilliant exhibits, great variety of species and an enchanting experience. Can't wait to go back again, and spend more time r…

    We had a wonderful time, brilliant exhibits, great variety of species and an enchanting experience. Can't wait to go back again, and spend more time reading about the different species.

  • ★★★★★5 Fantastic Tourist Attraction
    Review by WhiteRockSocks in Dec 2019

    The all new aquarium is absolutely brilliant...it has something for all ages! Definitely worth a visit!

  • ★★★★★5 Loved It!
    Review by Gillian W. in Dec 2019

    We were able to touch the dogfish in the first touch pool and later on the sting rays. All very friendly! We loved the Nemo and Dory type fish too.

  • ★★★★★5 So Much To See
    Review by Lisa Reeves in Dec 2019

    Very enjoyable day. I have a 10 year old boy and a 7 year old who had lots of fun. So much to see. Very friendly and helpful staff.