Home to 50,000 different types of aquatic animals, the Vancouver Aquarium is a treasure trove for fans of fish and sea life. Situated in the beautiful surroundings of Stanley Park, the Aquarium attracts visitors looking to learn more about Pacific life and is a popular weekend spot for local families looking for an educational day out. With adults-only after-hours events and innovative exhibits, there’s something for inquisitive minds of all ages to enjoy.
History of the Aquarium
Canada’s largest aquarium (and one of the largest in North America) opened in 1956 as the country’s first ever aquarium. Research projects such as the Marine Mammal Rescue Program brought international attention to the aquarium. In 2017 it launched the global Ocean Wise initiative, which focuses on sustainable seafood and protecting our oceans (look out for the logo on restaurant menus around Vancouver!).
Exhibits at the Aquarium
Vancouver Aquarium is home to an abundance of aquatic animals and a wide range of exciting exhibits including:
- Steller’s Bay: Meet the mysterious Steller sea lions at Steller’s Bay, which is based on a fishing village on Canada’s west coast.
- Canada’s Arctic: Find out more about life in the Arctic and all the animals that survive in the extreme temperatures.
- Tropic Zone: Highlighting warm water animals from around the world, this exhibit includes blacktip reef sharks, moray eels and colourful fish, as well as daily dive shows and shark feeds twice weekly.
- Graham Amazon Gallery: Step into the steamy jungle to meet the sleepy sloths, snakes, spiders and giant fish that call the Amazon home.
- Penguin Point: Learn more about African penguins in this new exhibit and find out how they measure up to the 17 other species of penguin in the world.
- Canaccord Financial Exploration Gallery: Find out more about the research work that the Aquarium does and visit Clownfish Cove, where kids eight and younger can dress up, nurse a ‘seal pup’ back to health in the new animal hospital, or investigate a touch pool. Catch a film at the 4D movie theatre while you’re here.
- Treasures of the BC Coast: Discover the diverse sea life just off Vancouver’s coastline in this extensive exhibit.
- The Wild Coast: Follow the walkways outside to meet the cute sea otters and acrobatic Pacific white-sided dolphins. Watch out for a feeding or training session!
- Pacific Canada Pavilion: This amazing 260,000ltr exhibit highlights the Strait of Georgia, with a realistic underwater habitat where divers mingle with Pacific fish such as halibut, crabs, and sea stars.
- Frogs Forever: Amphibians survived the extinction of the dinosaurs and this exhibit uses innovative sound technology to explore the fascinating world of frogs. Look out for the mesmerizing jellyfish tanks that are located throughout the Aquarium as well (you might have also seen them when arriving into YVR!).
Private events are often hosted in the evening at the aquarium but every month there is a public After Hours adults-only event when people aged 19+ can come to the Aquarium and enjoy themed talks, trivia, and the chance to explore the exhibits with a glass of wine or beer in hand.
Kids can take part in a ‘sleep with the fishes’ educational sleepover and Ocean Wise food events such as the Chowder Showdown are popular fundraisers that take place every year.
How to Visit the Aquarium
The Aquarium is located at 845 Avison Way in Stanley Park and is only a 15/20 minute bike ride from downtown Vancouver. There are bike racks close to the entrance and also a Mobi bike share rack on Avison Way. If you’re walking or biking just look out for the green signs that point towards the Aquarium from the Seawall.
Pay parking and electric vehicle charging are available outside the Aquarium and taxis are another option. The number 19 public bus to Stanley Park will bring you to the nearby Bus Loop and the hop on hop off sightseeing bus also make stops at the Aquarium.
What Else to Do Nearby
Walk or bike the Seawall around Vancouver’s stunning Stanley Park if you’re feeling energetic. It’s a 10km route around the circumference of the forested park and there are amazing views of downtown and the North Shore as you travel around. Take the nearby Stanley Park Train or a horse and carriage ride for a more leisurely way to see Stanley Park, or simply wander to the totem pole collection for a taste of First Nations history; we’ve got plenty of ideas for ways you can enjoy Vancouver’s most famous park.