Nanny Pat’s days out: Blue Reef Aquarium

Small crocodile in the water at Blue Reef Aquarium with children watching through the glass.

Newquay is famous for its surf beaches, but it’s also a very family friendly destination, as Nanny Pat found out when she took grandchildren Wilf and Megan there for a day trip last week. Here are her thoughts on their day out.

“The forecast was storm force 10 and hail storms so where to go? Wilf and Megan are both totally into CBeebies Octonauts, a cartoon series of underwater adventures where Captain Barnacle and his crew encounter various marine creatures and help solve their problems. Each episode looks at a real life scenario and helps point out the real dilemmas going on in our oceans such as melting ice, plastic, changing sea currents, etc. So what better way to build on the children’s interest and fascination with sea life than to give them chance to get up close to it at Blue Reef Aquarium?”


The Aquarium is situated right on Towan Beach (one of Newquay’s seven glorious beaches). Evidence of recent storms was visible – the entrance road was blocked by debris from the collapsed sea wall. Admission for Nanny Pat, Wilf and Megan was around £21, and tickets let you go in and out as often as you like throughout the day.

Nanny Pat’s top tip: “We took full advantage of being able to go in and out of the aquarium and broke the day up into three to time with the feeding and talks. We had hot chocolate in the cafe at Blue Reef but at lunchtime we walked back up the hill to the Morris pasty shop in Gover Road. Their pasties are amazing and we didn’t want to miss them! In the summer I would bring a packed lunch and eat it on the beach.”

“The Aquarium is brilliant; the exhibits are well presented in natural settings and all the creatures looked very healthy. You can even borrow hop-ups for little ones to stand on to get the best view into the tanks. At the entrance there’s a board with feeding times and information talks so you can plan your visit. We watched the octopus get its daily ration of live crab. Apparently the octopus takes the crab into its beak, paralyses it with venom and then eats the flesh, leaving the starfish to hoover up the unwanted shell.”


“Wilf loved the caiman. They were about his size and very prehistoric looking, like the nautilus which was Nanny Pat’s favourite. In the car on the way home, we each listed our 12 favourite things – from turtles to sea horses – and agreed it had been a great day!”

Even though it was freezing, wet and windy, Nanny Pat, Wilf and Megan had a great time on the beach clambering over the rocks and dodging the waves (well wrapped up and toasty warm in waterproof jackets and trousers, woolly hats, scarves and gloves!) Afterwards they drove a little past the famous Fistral surfing beach to Pentire Point to do some winter wave watching.

Getting there

It’s possible to do this day easily by train from Bosinver. Take the train from St Austell to Par and then pretty branch line to Newquay. The station is very close to the town centre and beaches so it’s not too far for little legs to walk.

Towan beach is popular with families visiting NewquayBy car, it takes approx 35 mins to get to Newquay. There’s plenty of parking in the town, and some car parks have a reduced tariff during the winter. There’s more information about parking in Newquay on the Blue Reef website. Postcode for SatNavs: TR7 1JQ (Manor Road car park)


Other ideas for family activities in Newquay

There’s plenty to do for families with children of all ages in and around Newquay. Just a mile from the town centre, Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park offer a variety of delights, including rowing and pedal boats for hire, a skate park, mini railway, cafe, a crazy golf courses and wonderful gardens to explore. It’s also home to the award-winning Newquay Zoo, which is home to lions, zebras, penguins and meercats just to name a few!

Have you been to Newquay on a family day out? Are there are any other attractions or activities nearby you’d recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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