Hunstanton Sealife Center – A Dad Review

Hunstanton Sealife Center is located in Norfolk, off the coast of the North Sea near Kingslynn, the sealife centre is part of the Merlin group and the Merlin pass can be used to enter all year round, the centre focuses on seals as it has a seal Hospital and recovery centre. It does differ from other Sealife’s as I’ve detailed here.

We do enjoy a Sealife centre, as we have been to a few, this one we tend to visit about twice a year, even where we live it’s still a 1 hour 10 minutes to get there, but that’s because of Norfolk roads! nd that’s something always to remember, it’s not the easiest place to get to, We use our merlin passes in places like this as it can be a great afternoon or day out! with minimal cost.

The Journey Begins

The entrance is right on the coast and next to a fairground, inside is a cafe, reception and shop, that you will exit through, the entrance is a little cramped on busy days and they aren’t always the quickest at getting you though, the Cafe is fine, its pretty bog standard but its not a bad thing.

Through you go you are met with the Merlin tradition of photo in front of a green screen, I’m wondering how long until there is a big photo purchase point at the end like the others have been changed to, but the first area has some basic fish tanks.

The next area is the big open area that you can walk all the way around, with an open tank full of stingrays and fish etc..this is always a well visible area with sides, holes and getting really close to the fist.

Next are smaller fish and touching rock pools, in which kids can interact with the starfish or crabs etc, Piglet enjoyed the domes that you can have pictures in with the tanks.

The first part of the outside sees you get close with the penguins, and some other birds, thus the net above you, this is always a big highlight for our family.

Back inside gets us close to Crocodile, some more fish, and the tanks containing ” Nemo” and “dory” these displays are always a kids favourite because of the films let be honest, the crocodile area normally makes Rook go pretty fast.

Back outside you can see the other side of the penguins, whereas the first part was netted and a bit more enclosed, the next bit is more windows but you can see clearly under the water, the area outside is quite big and arguably the biggest outdoor area of any of the Sealife centers.

This also holds the Seal Hospital which is a great way to help recover Seals, off the coast is a huge area for Seals that also spans around the coast, thus its importance is massive, you get to see them in recovery.

They also have a large Seal area for you to view them in their water home, this has an area you can see at the top as well as a lowered area to see right into the water, and they do swim alot, especially right near you.

Next to here is an Otter display, in which again I don’t believe any other centres have this due to space etc.. these are normally in zoos, but this is great to see.

Lastly outside is a play area outside, this is sand based with slides and climbing and can make a nice little break, other places have an indoor one but its nice to be outside in the summer.

We head back inside once again into one of the more popular and traditional exhibits, the Ocean tunnel. This is potentially one of the smaller ones in the locations but as I said earlier that’s because it focuses in other areas, however, it’s still a great thing to see and always a kids favourite, there is a side larger window which always makes good photos and a clear view back towards the tunnel.

After this a corridor takes you past two side rooms, one is a classroom-style room that isn’t always open, this holds events, exhibits etc..when we visited that day the kids could colour etc, but we’ve been their lots of time when it not been open.

The other room is a rainforest style room with Ans, snakes Turtles etc, these are great, especially the Ants as it has been set up for them to walk, and you can go very close to them in an open area, while they wander back and forth with there food.

The last part is back at the gift shop and cafe area, the Shop is like most of the Sealife centres, and has a variety of toys, collectables, gifts etc, Merlin pass holders get a discount which makes some of the items a good price, especially if you want to remember your visit.


Overall it does feel more of laid back Sealife, but at summertime, it can be very busy, so please bare this in mind. However normally it’s a nice pleasant afternoon out, it’s not massive so take your time and get the most out of it, I like that it focuses on different creatures than many of the other places but still has the favourites, using things like merlin pass can make this a relatively cheap day out.

Covid-19 Update

This visit was done pre Lockdown, literally just before lol, so please have this in mind and expect some tweaks to the day, they have implemented social dispatching measures so please check the website for the latest updates.

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  • Reply Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    What a cool place to take the kids to. My grandson loved his trip to Ocean Park and we would take him there again once the lockdown here has been lifted. The Sealife Center has so much to offer. Hope to be able to take my grandson there in the future.

    24 August 2020 at 1:55 pm
  • Reply Sim @ Sim's Life

    Totally agree that the infrastructure over your way is terrible, you need more motorways!
    How fab to have a SeaLife centre so close though, looks like it was a fabulous day out for you all! I do love watching penguins, they are so cute to watch! Sim

    24 August 2020 at 5:38 pm
  • Reply Yeah Foodie

    Hunstanton Sealife Center looks like a fabulous place to visit, especially since you are Merlin pass holders. I will be adding this to my places to visit when I head to Norfolk

    24 August 2020 at 10:19 pm
  • Reply Jenny

    We visited this place a few years ago, we loved the Seal Hospital and the otters.

    25 August 2020 at 10:54 am
  • Reply Kara

    We love our local sea life centre, but our last visit felt very uncomfortable as it was too busy and people were not social distancing…… will return when the tourists go home 😉

    25 August 2020 at 10:56 am
    • Reply Liam

      That has put me off going a little during lockdown, its already quite a close environment but having witnessed what people are like in general, im not surprised at the social distancing issues.

      25 August 2020 at 1:50 pm
  • Reply Rhian westbury

    I love a good sealife centre and it’s nice that this one seems more relaxed. Although during the summertime I’m sure all of these places are busy with school holidays, I’m glad you managed to get there before lockdown x

    25 August 2020 at 10:59 am
  • Reply Rebecca Smith

    I love visiting Sealife centres – I’ve never visited the Hunstanton one before although I have visited the one on Great Yarmouth seafront. We always love looking at the sharks and the penguins.

    25 August 2020 at 11:33 am
  • Reply Eddie

    Not visited many other sea life centres around the UK, just the one we have in Scarborough.

    This one seems very similar with the otters and seal hospital.

    They are great fun though and our favourite like you is the penguins and being able to walk through there enclosure. The keeper talks and feeding are always a winner with the kids.

    If you love sea life centres, if your ever up and around the Yorkshire area The Deep in Hull is awesome, so much to do and the tanks are immense.

    25 August 2020 at 5:51 pm
  • Reply Melanie williams

    It is nice to visit a sealife centre, me and my other half have been to a few. Looks like you had a fab family day out and we will have to see which ones are open near us x

    25 August 2020 at 7:43 pm
  • Reply Playdays and Runways

    We love visiting Sealife Centres and our entry is free with our Merlin Passes. We haven’t visited post lockdown yet.

    25 August 2020 at 9:11 pm
  • Reply Niraj Shah

    This seems like a cool place to go especially in the weekends! I can imagine with lockdown there will be social distancing measures put in place.

    26 August 2020 at 10:00 am
  • Reply Steve L

    Hunstanton looks great and is not too far from me. Will have to look at taking the little man for a visit sometime soon

    26 August 2020 at 7:45 pm
  • Reply Jess Howliston

    This looks like a fab place! We are currently thinking about getting a family Merlin pass and seeing that places like this are included is great! My two are fascinated by sealife so think this would be a great hit and love that they have so much to see and learn about (the touching rock pool bits sound great fun!).

    28 August 2020 at 4:03 pm
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