This is part 2 of my write up of the mini break we had on the South Coast.
The other reviews can be found here:
- Flying with a toddler – Part 1 -(here)
- Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)
- Longdown Activity Farm – (here)
So after landing in Southampton mid morning, the plan was to drive to Bournemouth and basically explore a bit and have a bit of a seaside day. So after driving 45 minutes, we arrived in Bournemouth. The drive was a lovely, relaxing drive through the New Forest, but due to roadworks, took a bit longer than anticipated. I hear that in summer, this journey is a bit of a nightmare due to traffic, but certainly not a problem in late February!
So after approaching Bournemouth, we followed the painted (and sometimes worn!) sandcastles on the road down to the beach and picked up signs for an “Oceanarium”. Having not done any research previously, I was putting two and two together as to what it was and we decided to go for it.
Located right on the beach, the view is perfect out to sea, but I imagine that the location also means when it is busy, it is difficult to get to. However, we found a car park very close by and made our way in.
It turns out the Oceanarium is a marine animal attraction, similar to The Deep in Hull, with penguins, fish, sharks, turtles and a crocodile, as well as a walking tunnel so you feel as though the animals are all around. Our favourites were the lovely large turtles and due to their swimming style, you can tell the little ones that they are waving!
We stayed for about 90 minutes and caught most of the penguin feeding show which was quite intimate as well, and not in a bad way. Unfortunately with a toddler, you never quite manage to see all of the show, but they are something to plan the visit around.
In terms of child friendly facilities, there is a very small soft play area, which will give the adults 10 minutes rest as there is only 1 climbing frame so there isn’t much to explore. We didn’t check out the changing facilities, and with most of these kinds of places, navigating with a pushchair would be difficult as it is on a number of levels and the lighting isn’t brilliant as it needs to be dark-ish for the animals. However, navigating carrying a 2 year old toddler isn’t that easy either!!
A couple of things that stand out for the Oceanarium are the beautiful views from within the venue. There is a balcony with seating and an ice cream kiosk at the back of the penguin viewing area which is beautiful and would be fantastic in summer, although a bit nippy in winter!
The second is the fact that you can come and go as much as you want during the day. We didn’t take advantage of this due to having a tired toddler, but given that it is about 10 yards from the beach and pier, you could easily spend all day in the same location, rotating between the Oceanarium, the beach, the pier and the other seafront attractions.
We did briefly venture onto the gorgeous beach, which looked clean, but more importantly, it didn’t look like good sandcastle-making sand as well as the pier, which had amusements and a cafe, which we didn’t go in, instead favouring fish and chips eaten in the car (classy!)
All in all, a very pleasant couple of hours spent in Bournemouth, which set us up nicely for the rest of our break, but also left us wanting to spend a few days (when warmer!) to explore Bournemouth more.
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