Merimbula Aquarium Review

Merimbula is surrounded by water. From beautiful Merimbula Lake to beaches and bays, the waterways not only look amazing, but they are also full of wildlife.

But if you are not into snorkelling or diving, how can you see and appreciate the marine life? The Merimbula Aquarium is the place to go.

This small aquarium does a great job at showing you the diversity of sea life around Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast. We really enjoyed our visit; this quick guide gives you an idea of what to expect.

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Merimbula Aquarium

Where is the Merimbula Aquarium?

The aquarium is located at the Merimbula Wharf, but it is not obvious where it is when you arrive at the wharf. Entry is through the restaurant. You go through a door and down some steps to the aquarium.

I imagine the restaurant staff regularly see a slightly confused look on people’s faces as they come through the front door expecting to see fish tanks only to see a (very nice) dining area. The place is quite well hidden!

Parking is a bit tight. There are a few parks outside the restaurant door, otherwise you need to park down near the wharf. It is only a 50m walk from the wharf up to the aquarium.

Merimbula Aquarium Opening Hours

You will need to plan your visit, there are limited opening hours.

  • Aquarium – Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm.
  • Fish Feeding – Wednesday and Friday 11.30am, and Wednesday – Friday 11.30am during school holidays
  • Restaurant – Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast from 10am and lunch from 11.30am. Open Friday and Saturday from 6pm for Dinner.

6 Best Things about the Merimbula Aquarium

While not as big and showy as the aquariums you get in the capital cities, we still had a great time at the Merimbula Aquarium. These were a few of our highlights.

Intimate setting

You certainly won’t get lost in the Merimbula Aquarium! It is set up all in one space, but don’t be put off by its size – there is plenty to see.

There are nearly 30 aquariums all featuring different marine creatures. There is also the 70,000 litre Oceanarium feature tank which has all the big stuff including rays, tuna, snapper and kingfish.

The Merimbula Aquarium is a fantastic spot for families and its compact size is just one of the reasons it is a fun family activity. Little legs won’t get worn out. Aim to set aside about 1.5 – 2 hours to look around.


Excellent range

Small doesn’t mean boring. The nearly 30 tanks have an amazing collection of fish and local marine creatures. Besides the Oceanarium, you can see everything from pot-bellied sea horses to blue ringed octopus, cuttlefish, different types of rays and rock lobsters.

Seeing the baby fiddler ray and cuttlefish was fun but I think our favourite was seeing an anglerfish. This has adapted a dorsal fin into a small lure the bobs around in front of its mouth and uses it to go fishing for prey. Amazing to see.

Baby Stingray
Baby Stingray

Guides on hand

There were a couple of guides walking around the room to answer questions and share their obvious passion for the ocean. They were fantastic with the kids; the guides were full of information.

The guides have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local marine life, and hearing stories about each of the animals in the tanks added a lot to the visit.

sea shells
sea shells

Interesting collection of shells, bones and fossils

The guides didn’t just handout information, they also had an amazing collection of samples to hand around including seashells, shark teeth and even dinosaur bones.

There were bills from sword fish and marlin handed around too which was interesting. We couldn’t believe how rough and heavy they were.

The shell collection was amazing, if you have ever been a shell collector, this is what you want your collection to look like!

Pot Bellied Sea Horse
Pot Bellied Sea Horse

Fish feeding is a must

If you can, try and visit when there is a fish feeding session. These happen on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11.30am. During school holidays, they occur on the Thursday too.

You don’t only see the Oceanarium come alive in a feeding frenzy, the other exhibits get a feed too which is interesting to watch and hear about.

Besides seeing the sea horses suck in tiny shrimp, the highlight had to be watching an octopus open a jar to get its food. Such a smart creature!

We’d recommend arriving some time before the fish feeding to have a look around. The Oceanarium just got a bit murky after the feeding frenzy was over.

Good value for families

There are adult, concession and child entry prices that range from roughly $17 – $25.

The family ticket is good value. It includes 2 adults and up to 4 children for $60.

If you come when there is a feeding session, you get quite a show, we felt the entry was pretty good value.

Rock Lobster
Rock Lobster

Are Aquariums Ethical?

We know a few people that are anti aquariums on the basis that the exhibits should be in their natural environment. As keen divers and snorkellers ourselves, we can appreciate that point of view.

It was interesting to learn that the exhibits at the Merimbula aquarium are generally ‘on loan’ from the ocean. They stay in the aquarium for anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of years.

Some tropical species stay at the aquarium. These have often been swept down the east coast in warm currents and are unlikely to survive the cooler southern winters.

We believe aquariums can play an important role in education. If people can see these animals firsthand and learn about them, it can help foster an awareness and appreciation for them.

We thought the Merimbula Aquarium did a good job of both endearing its visitors to the beauty of the local marine life and sending positive messages about marine conservation.

Merimbula Wharf

Merimbula Wharf

When you have finished inside the aquarium you can have a look around the Merimbula Wharf.

Besides being a popular fishing spot, it also has great views across the inlet, and down towards Bar Beach.

It is also an excellent snorkelling spot. You can enter the water at high tide from the rocks to the left of the wharf. It is quite shallow right under the wharf and there are heaps of fish there, lots of life on the pylons and the occasional stingray.

Wharf Restaurant

The Wharf Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has everything from cakes, ice cream and cool drinks to a seasonal a la carte menu. There is a kid’s menu too.

It is a lovely light room with views over the wharf and across the water overlooking the inlet to Merimbula Lake.

There is a narrow balcony that also offers a limited amount of outdoor dining.

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Merimbula Aquarium
Merimbula Aquarium
Merimbula Aquarium
Merimbula Aquarium
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