Exploris Aquarium

Exploris Aquarium

Top Tourist Attractions

Exploris is a public aquarium situated in Portaferry, Northern Ireland. The facility is located on the shores of the Marine Nature reserve of Strangford Lough, which is an important winter migration destination for many wading and sea birds. It opened to the public in 1987.

Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary


Located 1 hour from Belfast on the shores of Strangford Lough, visitors to Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry will be wowed with a diver’s view of marine life around the world.  Explore the colourful coral reefs of the Tropical Ocean and see if you can find 'Nemo' and 'Dory' before entering the smuggler’s cove where sharks circle above you. Return to the shores to see endangered but playful otters and witness conservation in action in the nursery seal pens and outdoor pools. Get up close to the penguins, splashing about their new home and one of the many new experience zones.


Your journey will begin with a focus on the lough and the Irish Sea where you will get a ‘hands-on with our native species as you tickle the belly of a small shark and feel the spikes on a sea urchin, along with learning about the Viking heritage of Strangford Lough.

The colourful coral reefs in the Tropical Ocean zone play host to over 100 species and their team of aquarists and guides is always on hand to answer your questions and provide some interesting information on many of the aquaria that you will encounter.

Outside in the enclosures, there is a family of Asian Short Clawed Otters that remain a big hit with visitors, while the Seal Sanctuary continues to be exceptionally busy.

Don't forget to explore the dark depths of the Reptile filled rainforest where a snappy crocodile and green gecko hide.

The Seal Sanctuary:

Exploris Aquarium has been operating its seal sanctuary since 1989. In the beginning, it had limited facilities, however, in 1999 a purpose-built facility was built.

The main philosophy of the sanctuary is to rehabilitate sick, injured, or abandoned seal pups.  As the seal pupping is seasonal, it means at certain periods we have no seals in our hospital.

Ocean Tank :

The Ocean Tank is the largest tank within the Aquarium. It is home to Sharks, Rays, and Rescued Sea Turtle JC. 

Expedition Passport:

Make sure to grab your expedition passport before you set off on your journey through the zones where you will meet the clownfish, sharks, rays, and much more. Keep looking out for the stamping stations, answer the trivia questions, and stamp your passport as you go!

Jiggly Jellies:

Jiggly Jellies is a two-tier aquatic-themed indoor soft play area with distinct zones for babies, toddlers, and juniors up to 8 years old. Jiggly Jellies is packed with numerous exciting features including slides, ball pools, climbers, swings, and roller squeezers, and is guaranteed to provide endless fun for the little ones.

The Kraken Bar & Grill:

They have a selection of snacks and meals including burgers, paninis, salads, and soups, as well as options for the kids. A wide selection of beverages including soft drinks, coffees, and teas as well as alcoholic beverages on offer. It also offers vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free options. 

The Gift Shop :

It is full of treasures to remind you of your trip to Exploris, including toys, cool stationery, awesome books, and fun games for kids and adults alike. There are some beautiful homewares, books and much more.

It’s the perfect way to end a great day out at Exploris Aquarium by taking back the memories and souvenirs for friends and family.