“Water offers no end of larks for small people. Baths, bubbles, pools, water pistols… give my child a small puddle and he’s happy for hours.

 

But for Yorkshire’s ultimate H2O experience, it’s got to be The Deep.

Hull’s No1 tourist attraction is, in the words of my four-year-old, “really, really awesome”. And it really is. With 3,500 fish, clever exhibits and interactive giggles, it kicks sand in the face of other aquariums. Plus it’s got bonus penguins.

 

It has you at the first tank – eerily beautiful moon jellyfish that look like they’ve swum straight out of a science-fiction film. Watching them drift around their neon home like little lost ghosts is hypnotising. It’s a prime spot for stressed parents to zen out. Well, if it wasn’t for the children yanking at their arms desperate to see all the other cool stuff.

 

Starting at level three, you zig-zag through millions of years of underwater history, down ramps and past walls full of bones, jaws and pointy teeth. The interactive screens en route are fun, too – you can create your own ugly fighting sea monsters or race slippery trout while subtly soaking up marine biology.

 

Bryce loved the giant tank based on a tropical coral reef, where he pressed his nose against the glass to spot unicorn fish with crazy head horns, swaggering bamboo sharks and surgeon fish with spines as sharp as scalpels. They darted around harlequin tusk fish, yellow butterflyfish, Valentini puffers – their names are almost as pretty as they are.

 

At feeding times, staff serve up some interesting nuggets, too, like the fact mum fish get stretch marks. No ready access to Bio Oil 100ft down, I guess.

 

There’s been some deep thought into getting you the best views. Bryce happily scrambled up the metal steps to pop his head into a bubble in a tank to spy on rays. And the glass lift ride, shooting you up 10 metres through the endless ocean exhibit, right in the path of swirling sharks, is a highlight. The lift even pauses for a few seconds so you can have a good gawp and catch your breath.

 

The Deep has been attracting 350,000 visitors every year since it opened in 2002. Its newest addition, Kingdom of Ice, with its funny gentoo penguins, guarantees they will keep flowing through the doors.

 

I’ve seen penguins awkwardly waddling around zoos but this is something else – you get to marvel close up at their underwater acrobatics. Who’d have thought these flip-flap waddling chaps could be so graceful, twirling around, leaving trails of glittering bubbles?

 

The Deep is a safe bet for kids of all ages. When Bryce was a toddler and his dad was faced with a long Saturday stretching out in front of him when I was working, he would ALWAYS retreat here. And who can blame him? It’s easy peasy to get to off the M62, parking costs £2 and it’s also good for grown-ups. It’s an education – and we’ve got a lot to learn. Fact: Even though the ocean covers 70% of the planet, we’ve only explored 5% of it. It’s a bit like owning a castle but living in the cupboard under the sink.

 

There’s also a soft play area for children under a metre tall, surrounded by exhibits reminding you what horrors us humans are – polluting, overfishing, mining and the like. It was enough to send me shame-faced to the Castaways café to stuff my face with cake.

 

The café has main meals from £5 (including fish and chips – although I suspect it’s cod on the menu, not Nemo) and children’s meals (like chicken nuggets, chips and beans) from £3.50. You can warm up bottles and baby food, too. The views from the café are knockout – you gaze right down on the River Hull and Humber Estuary. But if you want to bring your own food, there are picnic areas.

 

Just be sure to prepare yourself for the last salt water show… in the gift shop. Bryce had fallen so deeply in love with the penguins he HAD to have a cuddly version.  Cue foot stamping, red-cheeked rage and uncontrollable waterworks.

 

Oh, and another great thing about The Deep is the price – you pay once and get free return visits for a year. Which is just as well. Because after one visit, you’ll be hooked.”

 

East Riding Mums membership card holders offer:

One free child (aged 3-15) ticket with the purchase of two paying adult tickets (including tickets purchased online). Adult tickets are valid for The Deep’s Day Plus Pass Scheme, the free child is not. Full terms and conditions and request your FREE card at www.eastridingmums.com/membership

 

Useful info:

Opening Times

The Deep is open every day from 10am – 6pm (last entry 5pm) excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

Prices

Visitors can save 10% by pre-booking tickets online at www.thedeep.co.uk/plan-your-visit/ticket-prices

Adult £12. Child (3-15 yrs) £10. Children under 3 yrs FREE. Family of 4 £39.50. Family of 5 £47.50. (Max 2 adults).

If you plan to visit regularly then you can take advantage of the Day Plus Pass which allows you to visit The Deep for FREE for 12 months. This is included in the normal price of a ticket. See our website for T&C’s www.thedeep.co.uk/general-information/day-plus-pass

Café

The Observatory café, situated on the 3rd floor with great views over the Humber is open from 10am – 5:30pm. Serving breakfast (until 11:30am), a range of hot meals and salads (until 3pm), plus snacks, cakes, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks. Children’s dietary requirements are all catered for. Tables that have been raised for easier wheelchair access are also available within this café. There is a baby feeding station located in this café with bottle and food warming facilities. You don’t need an entry ticket to visit the café.

 

 

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