Aquarium on Roanoke Island

We had the unique experience the other day, of being the first family through the doors of the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.  I have to say, being one of only a few families inside offered us a wonderful opportunity to soak up all the aquarium had to offer.  It was a rainy Saturday, departure day for many on the OBX, so the crowds were fairly low at 9am.

Our kids went nuts once we stepped through the doors; they LOVE all things aquatic. And the animals didn’t disappoint.  We were there early enough that they were quite active.

The Quick Details

  • Cost: $10.95 (ages 13-61) $8.95 (ages 3-12) Free (ages 0-2) $9.95 (Military and Seniors)
  • Open from 9am-5pm
  • There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, an auditorium, and a museum shop.
  • There is currently an outdoor Dinosaur Exhibit.
  • There is a turtle rehabilitation program.
  • Plan about 2 hours for your visit.
  • Go early, when the animals are active and crowds are low.
  • Indoor Exhibits

    The aquarium highlights the wildlife in the marshes, coastal areas and the ocean off North Carolina. It begins with the marsh ares, highlighting reptiles, frogs, lizards, fish, turtles, otters and alligators.

    After we meandered through the marshy exhibits, it was on to a visit to the Turtle Rehabilitation Program.  You step outside and then enter into the rehab center.  There are tanks with turtles that are recuperating from injuries sustained in the wild, and staff who explain the injuries and treatments.

    Then the kids get to be turtle docs themselves.  They head into the lab, don a white lab coat, grab a turtle and head to the diagnostic station.  This is a really fun, hands on, learn through play experience that teaches the kids a bit about veterinary medicine.

    After they diagnose, the children then bring their turtle to the treatment station, where they learn what needs to be done to rehab the turtle.

    Next the turtle is placed in a tank to swim and get stronger, before it is released to the ocean.

    Next up is a hallway full of fish tanks.  There are many varieties of fish and the kids had fun identifying the ones they knew.  There was also an eel that was rehabbing.

    The hallway leads to two touch tanks. The first has stingrays and a horseshoe crab.  The second tank has a variety of sea life.  This was cool because the children could gently touch and see the animals that live underwater.

    Once the kids had their fill, we headed over to the shark tank and the USS Monitor exhibit.  There were divers cleaning the tanks and my oldest was enthralled.

    It was a rainy day when we visited, so we did not get to spend much time outside.  We quickly visited the dinosaur exhibit.  The animatronics were pretty good and real enough that my little guys wanted to keep their distance.

    This was a wonderful way to spend a morning and learn a bit about life underwater.  The kids get to move and work out their energy and have a great time learning through play.  I will say, in the interest of full disclosure, this is not the Shedd Aquarium, but there are ample opportunities for education and fun.  It is worth the time and money.


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