It was the penguins that drew us to Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle. And by us, I mean my daughters- especially my eldest, who is just crazy about them. While I had fond memories of the staggering beauty of Slea Head Drive and my first view of town from Connor Pass, all Brenna had to see was the aquarium website, penguins front and center, to know that Dingle was a ‘must' on our itinerary.
Exploring Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle
Oceanworld is easy to find, located just across the street from the Dingle Marina. If all else fails, look for the giant penguin.
The aquarium is larger than it first appears and houses a respectable number of tanks and pools. As you pass into the aquarium, be sure to grab The Ocean Explorer's Notebook. Filled with fun facts, games and questions, this little pamphlet serves as a guide through the aquarium.
You'll discover seashore life…
View the aquatic life of the Amazon…
Delight in the bright fish that live in the coral reef…
Gaze at the predators in the shark tank (you'll find rescued sea turtles here, too!)…
Pet a stingray in the touch tank…
and feel like a mermaid as you walk through the Ocean Tunnel.
But it's the penguins-which you'll find just after the shark tank- that draw people in. The Polar Penguin Experience is set offside, just past the shark tank, with an entry door that takes you to the Antarctic glaciers that are home to the Gentoo penguins. Each penguin is recognizable by its armband, and each has its own personality. As snow fell from the ceiling, a few penguins played, while others swam, and two penguins sat on their nests, protecting eggs.
We returned later in the afternoon for the penguin feeding (your ticket allows all day admission), which the girls delighted in. The penguins were especially active at this time, jumping straight up out of the water when their feeder arrived. While some were content to have their fish and go back to swimming, others would follow the food, waddling behind the feeder as she took fish to the nesting penguins.
Had Brenna been old enough, the Penguin Passport allows you to get up close and personal with the penguins. It's a one hour expereince that includes feeding the penguins and learning about them with their keeper. All the more reason to return to Dingle!
Of course the aquarium has a display devoted to Dingle's most famous resident… Fungi.
I highly recommend a Dingle Dolphin Boat Tour – it's a terrific way to extend your ocean exploration experience!
Oceanworld Aquarium is a terrific stop if your Ireland family vacation takes you to Dingle.