Part of one of the world’s most popular strings of aquariums, SEA LIFE Sydney is a one-stop-shop for all things aquatic in Australia’s largest city. Here, you and the family can come face to face with graceful, colourful and sometimes scary marine life that call this much-loved animal attraction home.
Experience Oz Sydney Experience Expert Dana Williamson (@wanderingdonut on Instagram) recently visited SEA LIFE Sydney to check out their newest additions, including the excellent ‘Day and Night on the Reef’ Exhibit and the world’s first Penguin ride through the Penguin exhibit.
Here are her thoughts!
How to get there
SEA LIFE Sydney is located in the heart of the city so there are many transport options available to get you there.
By Train: Get off at either Town Hall or Wynyard Station. It is only a short walk down to Darling Harbour from either station.
By Bus: The Big Bus Sydney has a SEA LIFE stop on Wheat Road. Regular buses can also drop you off at either Market or King Street where you make your way down to the harbour.
By Car: Although it is not the cheapest option or most convenient way there are a range of carparks close by that are eligible for discounted rates with a valid SEA LIFE entry ticket.
By Foot: The aquarium is within easy walking distance to the city centre.
- A chance to see some of your favourite sea creatures and even ones you never knew existed
- Family-friendly attraction
- FREE Penguin Boat Ride
- Great photo opportunities
- Educational Talks and interactive displays
- Brand NEW Day and Night on the Reef Exhibit
What You’ll Do
Jump in line
SEA LIFE Sydney is definitely easy to find – the aquarium makes itself very known that it is there with all of its walls plastered with pictures and branding. Following the signs we find ourselves in line for all the surrounding attractions before splitting off from there.
It was a Friday and school holidays hadn’t started yet so, we practically were able to dive straight into the aquarium without a wait.
Smile for the camera
After our Experience Oz tickets were scanned, we were invited over for our first ever green-screen photo opportunity. We ended up getting so distracted by all the animals later on that we forget to check back to see how these photos turned out; but I’m sure they were awesome!
South Coast Shipwreck
The first animals we saw were some adorable little penguins at the South Coast Shipwreck. In a darkened room we could see the birds swimming about and hassling the staff member who was in the enclosure with them.
With both above and under water viewing from the floor to ceiling glass window, we could have easily spent a good portion of the day admiring their adorable antics.
The vicinity also had various information boards and interactive exhibits for the younger ones (and young at heart) to enjoy and learn about the animals and their environment.
Moving forward we entered the Jurassic Seas exhibition, home to some animals that can be found in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean.
It didn’t take too long before I FOUND NEMO at the entrance of the Jurassic seas.
With smoke and lighting effects, dinosaur displays and a huge circular tank taking charge of the room, there sure was a lot going on in the room. However, it was the giant lungfish/salamander in the middle of the room that got my attention.
The Lungfish (or Salamander fish), which is often referred to as a ‘living fossil’ as its ancestors date all the way back to dinosaur times. You can also learn about the evolution of various animals including jellyfish and Port Jackson sharks as well as facts about animals that have also lived in pre-historic times.
I was baffled at first because it is not everyday you see a creature like this but thanks to the handy signage I not only found out it’s name but also its habitat information, threats, conservation status and cool features.
From here we moved onto my mum’s favourite part of the entire day, Dugong Island with an exhibit that allows you to view these creatures from above and below the water’s surface.
We made our way down into the tunnels that allow you to experience the grace of not only the cheeky dugongs but the large stingrays too.
Once you make your way through the tunnels you wind your back to the top where you can enjoy the sea creatures from above. You may even be lucky enough to watch them during feeding time!
In terms of hands on activities at the aquarium the touch tank is available for all ages to get up close to some massive starfish and more.
With an experienced staff member on hand to help you identify what is what in the small rock pool. The young ones visiting at the same time as us were amazed by the animals and giggled at the touch of their sometimes-slimy skin.
Shark Valley and The Shark Walk
Time to dive back under into the one of the most popular parts of the aquarium.. the sharks!
The shark tunnels are a great way to explore the underwater environments and get some great photos of the predators of the ocean swimming above you. The Shark Walk is a another popular exhibit in the aquarium with long, toothy sharks swim over and around you is both alarming and exciting.
The tank houses a range of animals including Grey Nurse Sharks, Lemon Sharks and their newest edition, a giant Queensland Grouper, often found in the waters off the northern east coast.
Although fascinated by sharks what I found surprising were the Shark Dive Extreme divers lining the tank. I do have to give it to them.. they are a lot braver than I ever will be!
Now for my favourite part of the day..Penguins!
Here you are faced with the biggest decision of the day, to go on the FREE penguin ride or not go on the FREE penguin ride. For me, it was an easy choice especially with no line at all.
I had never seen this part of the aquarium before so it was all a huge surprise.
Once checked into the world first penguin ride experience you make your way to the boat and are sent off on a 2 minute expedition through Macquarie Island. I won’t go into too much detail here because I want to save some surprises for your visit but I will say it is totally worth it. After all it is already included in your entry fee.
Whether you choose to go ahead with the boat ride or not everyone gets a chance to see the penguins by foot. I really could have spent the whole day here watching these cuties.
NEW – Day and Night on the Great Barrier Reef
Last but certainly not least, I visited the brand new Day and Night on the Reef exhibit. This exhibit gives you the chance to view the natural phenomena and marine life that come to life over a 24 hour period on the reef from sunset to sunrise the next day.
This whole part of SEA LIFE Sydney took my breath away. From the mesmerising jelly fish displays surrounded by mirrors to the insane interactive projections, all of my expectations were exceeded and this part of the aquarium alone makes it worth a visit.
I was drawn to the animated projection of the starry skies and bioluminescent covered beach.
Don’t worry there are still plenty of your favourite animals waiting for you here including turtles and even more sharks!
Speaking of turtles, one of the most important displays in the exhibit focuses on the sea turtle nesting process and how crucial it is that we do every we can to protect the environment.
More than ever we are making a push towards reducing and recycling to protect our environment and save the oceans and SEA LIFE presents this message of conservation in a fun and educational way.
This exhibit in particular is brought to life through interactive projections on the walls and floors where you and those around you step on the rubbish to recycle. Once the beach is clean the sea turtles can come out and play.
To see firsthand the joy this brought to young ones around myself of course made my day.
Unfortunately this led us to the end of the day where it was time to say a sad goodbye to the aquarium through the gift shop and out into Darling Harbour.
- Entry to the aquarium
- FREE Penguin Boat Ride
What to bring
- Money (for photos or souvenirs)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Water Bottle
Attracting a mixture of visitors including young families, couples, the elderly and school and tour groups, Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium is a must for those interested in seeing the wander of living under water and some of Australia’s aquatic inhabitants.
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a place that no matter how old you are, you are filled with child like wonder and excitement. It is perfect for families, the elderly, school/tour groups or even a dream date. I had an amazing day with my Mum and I hope you love SEA LIFE as much as we did.
This was my second visit to SEA LIFE and I was a little worried going back because I was disappointed in the past but this time exceeded my expectations. There are so many updates and new features that are certainly worth visiting again. Take your time wondering through the aquarium. If you want to spend more time with the penguins then do it. There is no time limit so make the most of this world class exhibit.
If you are wanting to avoid big crowds as much as possible then the weekdays are the best time to visit. Plan ahead and keep in mind that every day of the week will be busy during the school holidays.
There are also water refill stations throughout the aquarium but it may be a good idea to bring snacks if you are planning on spending several hours here.
Please do not use flash photography in the aquarium for the safety and well being of the marine creatures. If you see someone using flash photography kindly inform them why they should stop.