Did you know that June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month?
I didn't either! But I do know that we have enjoyed visiting Ripley's Aquarium located at Broadway at the Beach many times over the years. It's been open since 1997 and has over 14,000 fish plus several interactive experiences. It's a perfect option when the weather doesn't happen to be ideal and you're looking to have some indoor fun!
You can purchase just the admission to enter, but you can also add on some optional attractions. They even offer some special events (for a fee), like a painting class and a workshop to learn how to roll your own sushi... which seems a little ironic for an aquarium, but its focus is all about sustainable seafood.
The upper level of the aquarium has Rio Amazon, Friendship Flats, Planet Jellies, Penguin Playhouse, and the gift shop. The lower level has Rainbow Rock, Dangerous Reef, Discovery Center, Living Gallery, and Ray Bay.
Highlighting the amazing biodiversity of the largest rainforest biome on earth, Rio Amazon features carnivorous piranha, redtail catfish, arapaima - one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, they can grow up to 15 feet long - plus the lethal poison dart frogs.
Friendship Flats is where you can reach out and touch the stingrays that glide effortlessly in a shallow bay. It's a pretty cool experience touching their smooth skin as they swim by. If you have kids, I recommend you have them wear short sleeves, or roll them up tightly, so you don't end up with soggy sleeves (personal pet peeve of mine).
Planet Jellies features all different kinds of jellyfish in a gallery-type setting, and it is just mesmerizing to watching them bob and float around. In addition to the classic Moon jellyfish, they feature sea nettles, lagoon jellies, and the weird-looking upside-down ones.
Penguin Playhouse showcases the antics of their tuxedo-clad residents. African penguins actually prefer warmer temperatures, and you can check them out on the Aquarium's Penguin Cam. Our family has also recently been binge-watching the Netflix series Penguin Town, which is hilariously narrated by Patton Oswalt. It follows several members of an endangered colony as they mate and raise chicks; I'm a fan of Mrs. Bougainvillea and Junior the Misfit, myself. The Aquarium offers a Penguin Experience (for a separate fee from admission) during which you can actually hang out with a penguin. We haven't done that yet, but it's definitely on our the list to do!
Rainbow Rock is a coral reef that mimics ones located in the Pacific Ocean. You'll be able to see clownfish (Nemo) and blue tangs (Dory), as well as many other varieties of stunningly colored fish.
Dangerous Reef allows you to walk through an acrylic tunnel that puts you in the perfect spot to feel surrounded by the many sharks, eels, and turtles swimming around. Aside from the penguins, this is probably our favorite spot. However it is also lots of other people's favorite spot too, and so it can get crowded on busy days. But I think it's worth it to have awesome moments like this one, seeing a huge shark swim over your head...
Cargo Hold gift shop of course has lots of souvenirs, plushies for the kids, and other sea-themed items. When we travel, we usually pick up a magnet (if it is just one or a couple of us on a trip) or a Christmas ornament (if the whole family is traveling together). So we have a yellow pufferfish ornament from here, which adorns our Christmas tree every year. We bought it when our son was just a couple months old, after his first visit to the aquarium:
Learn all about the exhibits and plan your visit at the Ripley Aquarium website. The Myrtle Beach Visitor Center offers coupons for $2 off admission, which is good through the end of 2021. You can visit their Coupons, Deals & Discounts page for the most updated coupons.
Photo credits for this post go to our very first guests at Bella Vista Beach Villa, the Harvey family. Thank you for sharing!