In May and June we enjoyed family time in South Africa (read more here). One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to uShaka Marine World and uShaka Beach in the city of Durban. We have visited here several times before, and it remains one of my favourite aquariums in the world.
Ushaka Marine World opened in 2004 after large investment and development to the Point Waterfront area of Durban (in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa). Since then the area has developed into a world class attraction for locals and tourists. Aside from the beach and aquarium, the uShaka complex includes a water park, restaurants, shops and entertainment.The aquarium itself plays a serious part in marine education and conservation. It is home to over 300 different species of sea life, particularly those from the nearby Indian Ocean. It is the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere, with 500 meters of viewing tanks set underground within a faux shipwreck.
There is so much here for the whole family to enjoy. Aside from the aquarium and water park, entry also includes dolphin and seal shows. For an additional fee you could get closer to the marine animals by feeding the fish, ‘walking’ the lagoon floor or taking part in a shark cage experience. However this time, with two small children in tow, we concentrated purely on the aquarium viewing galleries. This provided more than enough to see and enjoy over a few hours.
I love the attention to detail in the design and layout of the underground viewing galleries. The ‘shipwreck’ is not entirely lost to the deep blue of the Indian Ocean – in some galleries the distant sound of a gramophone playing makes you feel that this could perhaps be a phantom ship, and that its passengers were not long drinking from the fine china teacups around which deadly spinefish now swim.
The atmosphere is totally immersive and it is very easy to lose track of time within the labyrinth of the creaking old ship. The shark tank is large with brilliant viewing from several angles, and the close encounter with huge turtles and rays is exciting for both adults and children.
We also enjoyed seeing the African penguins and a sneak peak at the dolphins splashing about in their pool. The aquarium is located right on the splendid uShaka beach. We returned the following day to enjoy some beach time on a beautiful, sunny autumn day – to make sandcastles and dip our toes in the warm Indian Ocean.
If you plan on visiting South Africa I can highly recommend that you stay in the KwaZulu-Natal region. Durban is fun, vibrant and offers many family activities. uShaka Marine World and uShaka beach are our holiday highlight from this special city.