Dubai is well known for many things. Lamborghini cop cars. Tall, modern skyscrapers. Extravagant everything. But what I didn’t realize is how much they love their aquariums. They seem to be everywhere!

One of the first things I want to do upon our arrival (after sleeping off the long flight) is check out the Burj Khalifa via the Dubai Mall. We can see it from our hotel and it doesn’t look that far away, so we decide to just walk towards it and see where we get. But similar to Vegas, everything here is much further away than it appears. We walk about 10 minutes before realizing that it would take all day to get to the mall, so we quickly grab a taxi. Fortunately, we figure the metro out the next day and will be able to get around much easier.

As we walk through the mall, we almost immediately come across the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. It’s pretty hard to miss with its 2 story fish tank.




Our plans for the day are pretty wide open so we decide check it out. There are several packages to choose from that include experiences like croc feeding, shark diving and caged snorkeling, all for varying costs. We decide to purchase the Researcher Package for 100 dirhams (about $27), the cheapest option. This includes the aquarium tunnel, underwater zoo, and a behind the scenes tour. Up first is the tunnel. I know there are a few of these around the world, but I’ve never been in one so I think this part is so cool!




There are even divers that I think are feeding some of the rays.



Or maybe they’re checking that they’re healthy?



Thanks Maggie for taking a few photos of me as payback for all the ones I take of you!








We admire the fish (and divers) for awhile, then exit the tunnel and head up to the second floor to continue the tour.



When we purchased our tickets, they told us to go up the escalators after the tunnel, but we walk around the whole second floor before we realize that we have to go up another level. Good to know!

Upstairs we find our way again, only to be quickly ushered into a group with a handful of other people for a guided behind the scenes tour of the facilities. We’re both a little unprepared for this and scramble to keep up. The guide is hard to understand, especially with the loud machinery around, so while the behind the scenes tour is neat, I don’t feel like I learn a lot from it. But hey, shark pups and seahorses! They are so tiny!



It’s hard to see in this photo, but all the little tiny dots floating in the lower tanks are baby jellyfish. I never knew they were that small!


We study all the different types of fish (I believe they said that this is a conservation and research area), then descend into the main tank to see the aquarium from above.




The fish swim around and around in a circle, never stopping. I wonder if they ever swim the other direction, or if this is what they do all day, every day.


These are the glass bottom boats you can ride around in. You are able to see all the sea creatures through the bottom of the boat as you circle the main tank. I think all the other viewing options are enough to see everything and we choose not to do this part. But the kids look like they’re having fun!


The last part of the tour is the underwater zoo and right off the bat we see otters retrieving objects for a trainer. If I’m honest, this part kind of makes me feel bad for the animals, and Maggie says the same. They seem so sad cooped up in the little tank with no room to move around.


I’m not sure exactly what these animals are, but they sure love their treats!



The rest of the aquarium is pretty neat. I like how they have the tanks set up so you can see everything from above and the side, in sort of a natural habitat environment. Don’t ask me why I don’t feel as bad for the fish. I guess they aren’t as cute and fluffy.








This is Maggie’s “crocodile” face. It’s far more fearsome than the croc behind her.


We stop to watch the real crocs for awhile, hopping to see them do something, but they just lie there, not moving. Maggie even asks if they’re real. I admit, I’ve never seen them laying on top of each other like that, though I suppose I’m not a crocodile expert. Maybe they’re mating? I have no idea.


I’m so glad I don’t live 112 million years ago. This super croc is HUGE! He’d swallow you up in one bite!


Above the aquarium are some rope bridges that give a different perspective on the tanks below. We have a bit of fun running around on them like kids.



The underwater zoo ends as it began, with me feeling bad about the animals in captivity. It’s almost like this penguin is saying, “Take me with you!”. Or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking.


Overall, the aquarium is a nice way to spend a couple hours on our first morning in Dubai (guilt aside). If you have kids, this place has a lot of interactive opportunities to learn about the animals that they would love, and those rope bridges are great for burning off energy. If you don’t have much time in this city, there are better places to spend it, but if you have a whole week like us, it’s worth an hour or two.

The Burj Khalifa
Dubai or Vegas?