June 26th, 2012
Last weekend we took the trip down our mountain to the coast for a few hours on the beach. It’s a bit of a trip for us so we combined it with a rummage at the Rastro which is held every Sunday morning in the big car park at Almuñécar on the Costa Tropical. If you happen to come to Almunecar in July for the Jazz Festival then set the alarm in your lovely holiday rental home on Sunday morning and give it a go – bargains galore for all!
With a bit of time to kill before lunch - we’re always too early! – and planning the beach for afterwards, we looked around for something else to do. Unlike the UK, Spain’s shops all close on Sundays so that was ruled out…..then we remembered the Aquarium was also here somewhere – we were glad that we did!
A back up list of things to do with kids is always good to research before you depart for that longed for holiday to Spain. Not rainy day activities as such – come on – have you seen our weather this month?!! It’s hot, hot, hot! Sometimes, though, when the sun is at it’s strongest it’s better to play safe and do something else – or like us, just to fill in some time in town.
We had taken our daughter’s friend with us too, they’re both around the same age and always happy to do or go somewhere new…village life – however pleasant – can get a little tedious for them!
Never ending circles
After we had scoured the Rastro for bargains – and inevitably bumped into people we knew and chatted for a while - even though we were miles from home! – we hopped back into the very hot car and set off to look for the Aquarium. I have to say that it wasn’t easy to find! Passing the same sign several times that announces Almuñécar has an Aquarium but failing to find one sign that actually pointed in it’s direction we gave up and did what we should have done 10 minutes before….we asked a local!
So, to make it easier for you I can tell you it’s on the slightly oddly named Plaza de Kuwait, next to the indoor market and a short hop from the Town Hall, or Ayuntamiento. It’s also all underground with just the entrance and shop at ground level – so we paid up and went in. I think that at 42 € for 2 adults and 2 kids it’s not that cheap, but on reflection is certainly good value for money.
More information on opening times, prices and concessions for groups etcetera can be found on the official website here.
There’s also a lift down if you or anyone in your party is less able bodied…and also a mechanical stair-lift that runs alongside the wide marble stairs.
Down we went admiring the sculptures of Sea Horses and other marine life.
At the bottom of the stairs you enter through a black curtain which pitches you into darkness and a feeling of being plunged beneath the sea….a welcome respite from the searing rays of sunshine above…..
It´s the largest Aquarium in the whole of Andalucía.
There´s 3000 square metres of space, with tanks and exhibits holding no less than 2 million litres of water await.
A total of 3000 fish are on display in clean, well maintained tanks and a top notch environment. Huge information boards are displayed in both Spanish and English languages for each tank. The whole tour takes you through the history of the sea and fossilized remains accompany each stage - so Dinosaur loving little boys will be made up!
From the beginning
The floor at entry level explains and describes marine life from its’ beginnings – with Sea Horses and Jellyfish, and lots of different Corals. We needn’t have bothered looking at the Jellyfish, we encountered more of them up close and personal later that afternoon at the beach….!
You move even further underground past enormous tanks with dizzying optical illusions and continue the story of the Marine Eco System and other fishy business. Past Turtles and flat fish, stars from Nemo and more colourful Coral…. down we wandered, enjoying the life filled tanks and ugh-ing at the scary pointed tooth Moray Eels which were HUGE. Watch each tank closely for a few minutes - sometimes the most interesting bits are hidden or camouflaged!
Deeper and down
Moving on, there was an excellent mock up of a rock pool with Hermit Crabs, Sea Anemones and Shellfish. As you plunge deeper depths, the floor sweeps ever downward, and the tanks get darker and represent deeper waters. Some of those deep sea fish are just downright ugly!
Best until last
As you reach the end of the tour, you turn a corner and walk through a 17 metre long tunnel which was just fantastic, we all agreed. Enormous Sharks glide menacingly over your head, their teeth just inches from your hair – giant Rays with their perfect faces and hundreds of fish swimming past – you’ll feel as though you are actually in the sea with them. If fact, there is an option to dive with them at an extra cost – er, no thanks!
The final room has a viewing tank from the tunnel, and a life sized model of a bloodied open mouthed menacing Shark – realistic enough so that if you blindfold your little darling until you are right beside it you’ll elicit a great big scream! Cruel, aren’t I ?!!
The steep stairway then takes you back up through the gift shop where you can purchase a souvenir of your trip to the Aquarium. Prices weren’t actually bad, I noticed kids T-shirts printed with the logo for 8€. Also pens, notebooks, cuddly sharks and that sort of tat….
As you ascend the stairs for the exit, take a moment and browse the last wall mural which reminds you of the greatest peril known to sea life and its’ sustainability – us humans of course, and the rubbish we throw away which ends up in the sea, a timely and excellent reminder to pack your rubbish with you, and to take nothing from your beach holiday except sun kissed skin and great memories!