A few weeks ago, while my parents and my niece and nephew were visiting Geordieland, we found ourselves having to abandon our plans for a day at the beach as the rain attempted to put a dampener on our weekend.
Instead, we found refuge just a few yards from Tynemouth seafront at Bluereef Aquarium which promised us ‘the ultimate undersea safari’. The kid’s faces lit up when I told them were heading off to find Nemo and Dory!
There was quite a queue when we arrived, it seemed plenty of other families had the same idea! However, as you can explore the aquarium at your own pace, the crowds soon dispersed and it didn’t feel too crowded.
As we made our way through the aquarium we encountered loads of incredible creatures from around the world. We were delighted to spot some lovely seahorses, a huge Iguana, playful otters (which I have to say had a very distinct aroma!!) and hundreds of colourful and exotic fish! Of course, we also found Nemo…
We also came face to face with some very cute monkeys! Blue Reef Aquarium is home to Common Marmosets, Black tailed Marmosets and Cotton Topped Tamarins. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that one of the monkeys was carrying baby twins, ‘Twins! Like Us?’ asked Jack excitedly, it was a highlight of our day! I tried to get a photo but they were a bit too shy.
A member of staff who was feeding the monkeys noticed our excitement and was kind enough to tell us all about the baby twins, how they were just a couple of weeks old, how the mummy and daddy care for them and what they like to eat. Her knowledge and enthusiasm were a credit to the aquarium!
Another highlight was our walk through the underwater tunnel where we caught a glimpse of rays and even a little shark, the kids were were very impressed, personally I expected this area to be a bit bigger but I guess to the little ones it probably seemed massive.
My favourite part of the day was when we braved the drizzle to visit the seals and sea lions in their outdoor enclosure. We squeezed to the front for an entertaining presentation from another passionate member of staff, although with hindsight we should have stood a little further back as we did get splashed when the sea lion came to play!
There was lots to see and do at Blue Reef Aquarium, to really make the most of a visit I advise getting there early and attending as many of the talks, feeding sessions and encounter opportunities as possible. This will make your day feel even greater value for money. Family tickets start from around £31 when you book online at www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk
It’s also worth noting that once you’ve got your tickets you can come and go as you please. I thought this was excellent because although Blue Reef has a fab little cafe and gift shop, we had the freedom to explore what else the area had to offer and still return to the aquarium if we wanted to.
We decided to venture a little further up the coast to Whitley Bay and it was hot chocolate all round at one of my favourite cafes by the coast.
Rendezvous is a proper old school seaside cafe that’s been run by the same family since the 1930’s. It serves drinks, ice creams, hot dogs and a small selection of cakes and sandwiches. There’s no pretentious attempts to be shabby chic, in fact, it probably hasn’t changed much at all in the last six decades and because it’s dog friendly you’re always sure to make a new furry friend, I love it!
If you have any ideas for what to do on a rainy day in North East England, I’d love to hear them!