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The Chief of the Undersea, outside the Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium: Things to Do & What to See

Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse oneself in the expansive Pacific Coast ecosystem that underpins our city’s vitality.

During your visit, you’ll encounter the Wonders of the BC Coast, a Tropical Rainforest, Penguin Point, Canada’s Arctic, and much more.

Here are some recommendations to maximize your enjoyment of the Vancouver Aquarium:

  1. Overview
  2. Animals
  3. Exhibits and Galleries
  4. Prices
  5. Skip the Line Tickets
  6. Hours
  7. How to Get There
  8. Amenities and Services
  9. Ethics
  10. Visitor Tips
  11. Membership
  12. Internationally Recognized
  13. FAQs
A girl watches the fish at an Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is located in world famous Stanley Park.

Since opening doors in 1956, it has grown to be the largest in Canada, with over 9,500,000 litres (2,500,000 gallons) of water divided throughout its 166 aquatic displays.

In total, the facility is called home by over 70,000 Vancouver aquarium animals. This extensive collection is spread across a variety of displays that mimic the diverse marine habitats found throughout the world.

Naturally, you can expect a heavy focus on our local waters.

It’s one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions, with over 1 million visitors a year and an important part of any Vancouver itinerary.

A Green Sea Turtle swims in an Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium Animals

We’ll take a look at the main exhibits in a second. But first, what animals are at the Vancouver Aquarium?

  • Pacific White Sided Dolphin (Helen)
  • Stellar Sea Lions (Amak, Kenai, Willo, Ashby, Rogue, Bella Bella)
  • Sea Otters (Tanu, Katmai, Rialto, Mak, Kunik, Hardy)
  • Northern Fur Seals (Meechi, Tikva, Tuku, Kyoo, Aya, Ani)
  • Harbour Seals (DaVinci, Hermes)
  • California Sea Lion (Senõr Cinco)
  • Green Sea Turtle (Schoona)

Got a date in mind? Book your tickets using the calendar below:


Aquarium Exhibits and Galleries

There are over 30 exhibits to see at Vancouver Aquarium.

In addition to displays focused on local ecosystems, you’ll be whisked away on sea adventures to far away places like the Arctic Ocean, the Amazon Rainforest, and South Africa.

vancouver whale tour banner

The goal? Show you the incredible beauty and incredible biological diversity present throughout the earth’s oceans. This, in turn, raises education and awareness surrounding the challenges many of these animals face in the wild.

Fish at the Treasures of BC Coast

Pacific Canada Pavilion

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: halibut, rockfish, sea urchins, starfish, crabs, sturgeon, herring, salmon.

This centrally located exhibit focuses on the wide variety of fish and invertebrates found on the nearby British Columbia coast.

The exhibit includes a massive 260,000-liter tank with a see-to-believe above-surface view of the local marine life.

You can also head downstairs for a face-to-face view.

The fish swim amongst an environment of rocks, plants and kelp that mimic those found in the nearby Salish Sea.

An Octopus in an Aquarium

Treasures of the BC Coast

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: hagfish, octopi, sea stars, sea urchins, rockfish, sea anemones.

Treasures of the BC Coast is a collection of exhibits that displays the various aquatic environments present within the province, from tranquil sand flats to lush kelp beds and rocky reefs.

The gallery will leave visitors with an increased appreciation for the diversity and adaptability of the various species that have evolved in our part of the world.

The Sea Lions at Stellars Bay, Vancouver Aquarium

Stellar’s Bay/Canada’s Arctic

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: stellar sea lions, walruses, fur seals, Arctic fish and invertebrates

This outdoor exhibit was formerly home to The Aquarium’s Beluga Whales throughout the facility’s history.

Now, however, the area focuses on the incredible diversity of fish, invertebrates and plant life found in Canada’s Arctic Ocean.

Much of the exhibit has also been converted over to house Stellar’s Bay, a sea lion research center run in conjunction with the University of British Columbia.

This unique research outpost has since grown to include walruses and northern fur seals while retaining the majority of Canada’s Arctic Gallery.

A Penguin at Penguin point, Vancouver Aquarium

Penguin Point

Animals at Vancouver AquariumAfrican Penguins

Let’s change course and head to South Africa!

Inspired by the unique terrain on Boulders Beach (Capetown), Penguin Point is the home to a variety of African Penguins.

If you’re visiting Vancouver with kids, they will love watching these ‘flightless fowl’ run amuck and play with each other on the rocks.

Try to time your visit at feeding time for an extra bonus!

Clownfish at the Tropic Zone, Vancouver Aquarium

The Tropic Zone

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: green sea turtles, black-tip reef sharks, clownfish, corals, sea anemones, tropical butterflies, and various other tropical fish.

This indoor exhibit focuses on warm-water species from all around the world within a giant Indo-Pacific Reef.

If your goal is finding Nemo (is this still a relevant reference?), then you’ll love the fish here from Africa, Madagascar, Central America, and the Caribbean.

The multimedia screens and interpretive programs in The Tropic Zone are probably the best in the whole facility.

A monkey eats a melon

Graham Amazon Gallery

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: green anaconda, emerald tree boa, goeldis monkeys, red-footed tortoise, yacare cayman, and various freshwater fish.

Did I mention diversity?

The Amazon Rainforest is home to over 3,000 freshwater fish species. That’s more than ten times as many as the entire country of Canada!

Enjoy a small sampling in this dramatic recreation of an Amazon Freshwater eco-system complete with fresh-water fish, birds, snakes and even monkeys.

You’ll feel the heat and humidity like you were on holiday in Brazil!

There’s also a very educational portion on Amazon destruction and its devastating impact on wildlife and the world’s environment.

The Frogs Forever Gallery at the Vancouver Aquarium

Frogs Forever

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: northern leopard frog, Oregon spotted frog, and 22 more species.

Did you know that the world is currently experiencing what may be the single largest mass extinction event since the loss of the Dinosaurs?

Almost half of the world’s 6,000 known amphibian species are endangered and could be wiped out within our lifetime.

The Frogs Forever Gallery aims to raise awareness about the potential peril facing many of these species from habitat destruction, hunting and disease.

Learn about the amazing transformations these animals go through in their lifetimes and what you can do to help them in their time of crisis.

Helen the Pacific White Sided Dolphin, Vancouver Aquarium

Dolphin Habitat

Animal: Pacific White Sided Dolphin

The Dolphin Habitat is home to Helen, the Pacific WhiteSided Dolphin who was rescued in Japan, where she was found entangled in a fishing net.

As a research facility, Dolphin Habitat is tasked with the primary goal of understanding how dolphins use their eco-location sonar to locate objects in the water around them.

This may lead to developing deterrent devices to prevent the entanglement, injury, and death of these beautiful and intelligent creatures.

Visitors will gain an inside look at Dolphin training and feeding sessions and come face-to-fin with this charismatic and playful animal.

A Sea Otter at the Vancouver Aquarium

The Sea Otter Exhibit

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: 6 sea otters (Tanu, Katmai, Rialto, Kunik, Hardy, Mak)

This rescue facility is home to a variety of adorable Sea Otters who were rescued when they were too young to feed or groom themselves.

Staff members were required to bottle-feed and hand-groom them until they were able to learn how to do it themselves.

Thankfully, the animals are now thriving.

The exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to see what has been dubbed the most charismatic creatures at the Aquarium: playful, cuddly, adorable!

Children play at Clownfish Cove at the Vancouver Aquarium

Clownfish Cove (Children’s Area)

Animals at Vancouver Aquarium: sea stars, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, invertebrates.

A fully interactive exhibit that encourages children to learn through play and allows them to marvel at our ocean and learn how to take care of it!

This exhibit is targeted at kids 8 and under.

Clownfish Cove includes an animal rescue center, a seaside dock complete with underwater tunnels, and a touch table featuring numerous species of sea anemones, sea stars and invertebrates.

Finally, you won’t have to tell your kids, “don’t touch!”.

An empty theatre

4D Experience Theatre

If you’re tired of walking, then sit down and relax with a fully interactive 4D cinematic experience.

The 4D Experience Theatre comes with a full complement of sensory effects, including wind, mist, scents, vibration, and dramatic lighting.

All is carefully choreographed to the film being displayed – which just might leap right out of the screen and attack you!

We highly recommend budgeting a little extra time to catch a film in the 4D Experience.

*The 4D Experience is included with entry

For more information on what is playing, check out the Vancouver Aquarium’s Now Playing page.

Vancouver Aquarium Prices

The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the world’s oceans.

Your entry fee directly contributes to research programs, conservation initiatives and animal rehabilitation.

The cost of entry is listed below:

  • Adult(13-64)-$46.20
  • Senior (65+)-$40.70
  • Student (19+) $40.70
  • Child (3-12)-$29.20
  • Child (0-2)-Free

Included in entry

  • Access to over 135,000 square feet of engaging exhibits
  • Admission to the 4D theatre
  • The opportunity to see over 70,000 animals

*Visitors with a disability or special needs can request a 50% discount off of the general admission price or receive a free attendant along with a regular-priced ticket.

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

Vancouver Aquarium Tickets

The Vancouver Aquarium is a very popular attraction; thus, it can become quite busy. This is particularly true on weekends or during the heart of tourist season when you are most likely to be visiting. 

Our recommendation to avoid the lines is to purchase your tickets online. That way you can spend more time enjoying the animals than standing in a queue. Click the button below to secure your skip-the-line tickets.

a child observes a Sea Otter
Instagram: @vanaqua

Behind The Scenes Encounters

For those wanting to get even closer to their favourite animal, you can book a behind-the-scenes encounter for an additional fee.

This popular option allows visitors to engage in the enrichment training, animal care, and feeding of their animal of choice with Aquarium staff for 45 minutes.

Close encounter participants will also learn more about the animal’s ecology, behaviour, and challenges they face in the wild.

For more information, check out the Vancouver Aquarium’s Encounters Page.

Vancouver Aquarium Hours

The Vancouver Aquarium is open 365 days of the year. 

  • 10:00 am-5:00 pm (low season)
  • 9:30 am-6:00 pm (high season/long weekends)

We suggest budgeting at least 2 hours of time for your visit. However, if you plan on taking advantage of the 4D Experience Theatre, or it is exceedingly busy, you may want to tack on an extra hour.

Furthermore, due to the Aquarium’s convenient location in the heart of Stanley Park, we recommend taking a full day to explore the numerous attractions in what has been voted the best urban park in North America.

How to Get to the Vancouver Aquarium

Address: 845 Avison Way

The Vancouver Aquarium is located right in the heart of Stanley Park.

This makes it easily accessible by car, transit, and perhaps the most prototypically Vancouver method of transport: the Seawall.

In fact, the Aquarium offers $2.25 discounts for anyone who visits via public transit or bike.

Simply present your transit pass, Compass Card, or bicycle helmet at the general admissions window when buying your pass.

Public Transit

The Vancouver Aquarium is located a fair distance from the closest Skytrain station Waterfront Station.

Unless you’re looking to sneak in some exercise along the Seawall, you’ll want to take transit. The most convenient way for most is via the #19 Stanley Park bus.

By Bus

  1. Board the #19 Stanley Park bus on the North (mountain) side of Pender Street downtown (two blocks South of Waterfront) and purchase a fare ($3.05 or $2.45 with Compass Card).
  2. Stay aboard while the bus enters the Stanley Park Causeway before reaching its terminus stop in the Stanley Park Bus loop. The journey should take 10-15 minutes, traffic permitting.
  3. After getting off the bus, simply follow the signs that will direct you East along the path toward the Vancouver Aquarium. It should only be a 5-minute walk.

For online transit schedules, head over to Translink.


Looking for a more active approach? 

The 28 km long Seawall is the world’s longest uninterrupted urban waterfront path.

There’s a very important stretch between the Vancouver Convention Centre through Stanley Park towards the Vancouver Aquarium.

If you want to combine a little exercise and some stunning views then this is your ticket.

On Foot

The walk to the Aquarium from the start of the Seawall beside the Convention Centre is approximately 2 kilometers long.

It is paved, flat and wide, with numerous viewpoints and areas to stop and rest along the way.

By bicycle

Stanley Park is among the largest urban parks in the world. This can make it difficult to experience all that the park has to offer while on foot.

Why not cycle? This way, you can experience the park’s numerous attractions, gardens, and some of Vancouver’s best beaches long before exhaustion begins to set in.

You can grab a bike using Vancouver’s bike share service Mobi. However, for a little more independence, I’d recommend renting your own bike from Waterfront Station. For more information, check out the link below.


The most convenient way for most travellers to reach the Vancouver Aquarium may simply be to drive, particularly for families and seniors.

For custom directions, head over to Google Maps.

Vancouver Aquarium Parking

There are five parking lots located within a 2-7 minute walk of the Aquarium, along with an electric vehicle charging station.


  • $3.75 per hour (October 1-March 31)
  • $4.25 per hour (April 1-September 30)

The Vancouver Hop On Hop Off Bus

There’s one last way to visit the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, and all of Vancouver’s other main attractions all in one shot.

The amazing Vancouver Hop on Hop off bus just happens to stop right outside.

This makes for an incredibly convenient way for families and seniors to experience the Aquarium and the rest of Vancouver along with other like-minded travellers.

The store at the Vancouver Aquarium

Amenities and Services

The Courtyard Cafe

Open 365 days a year, the Courtyard Café is located directly inside the Aquarium’s entrance, adjacent to Ocean Courtyard.


  • Burgers
  • Fish and chips
  • Sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Pastries and snacks
  • Local beer, wine and ciders
  • Hot and cold drinks

There is indoor and outdoor seating available.

The Oceanwise Café

Located just outside the Aquarium, the Oceanwise Café is open during the summer months to provide an additional option during the busiest time of the year.


  • Burgers
  • Sandwiches
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries
  • Hot and cold drinks

You have the option of either staying cool under the umbrellas or enjoying the sun on one of the available picnic tables.

Gift Shops

There are two gift shops located on site that allow you to select from a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs for visitors of all ages.

As the Aquarium is a non-profit organization, earnings from all gifts purchased go directly to the funding of their education, research and conservation initiatives.

Finally, a travel souvenir you can feel good about purchasing! Here is a quick look at what you can expect to find:

  • Souvenirs
  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Accessories

For more information on the gift shop, or to purchase online, visit the Vancouver Aquarium’s Online Gift Catalog.

Accessibility Services

There are numerous amenities and services available to ensure that Vancouver Aquarium’s facilities can be enjoyed by everyone.

These include:

  • Accessibility discounts (50% discount on entry for disabled visitors)
  • Free guides (in lieu of the 50% discount)
  • Handicapped parking
  • Loaner wheelchairs and walkers
  • Adult change table (in the Stellar’s Bay washroom)
  • Priority viewing for guests in wheelchairs
  • Closed captioning on most videos
  • Handicapped accessible washrooms

Is the Vancouver Aquarium Ethical?

This is a question you’ve probably been asking yourself since the start.

Let’s just say it’s a bastion for marine research, education, conservation and animal rehabilitation.

Their goal, like yours, is keeping the oceans healthy and flourishing.

The facility no longer pens up any large mammals like Orcas and Belugas (once the star attractions) and now only focuses on rescued, unreleasable, or rehabbing animals.

It’s as ethical as aquariums get.

Vancouver Aquarium Visitor Tips

1) Purchase tickets online

The Aquarium can be a very busy place on weekends and during the Summertime.

It is highly recommended to purchase your tickets online in advance if visiting during these periods. At the very least, it will allow you to skip the line.

2) Go early in the day

During high season and weekends the Aquarium can get very busy. However, even during peak times it doesn’t tend to fill up until the afternoon.

Try and arrive in the morning as close to opening time as possible.

3) Take a full day and enjoy Stanley Park

The Vancouver Aquarium is located within one of the premier urban parks in the world.

We recommend taking a full day to take in all of the park.

Better yet, get a little exercise and go for a bike ride, a jog, or a walk along the Seawall on your way there.

You’ll get panoramic views of the North Shore Mountains, Burrard Inlet, and the Vancouver skyline, and even a small discount on your admission!

4) Bike or take transit

With the Stanley Park Bus loop located a brisk 5 minute walk away, and numerous bike rental options nearby, the Vancouver Aquarium is easily accessible via alternate forms of transportation.

5) Catch a flick

Enjoy a full 4D cinematic experience free with the cost of admission.

The 4D experience is a feast for the senses, with a range of effects such as wind, mist, scent and vibration designed to trigger all of your five senses.

There is always a cool movie carefully choreographed with sensory effects to keep the audience fully engaged.

6) Book a Behind the Scenes Encounter

Enjoy a little one-on-one time with your favourite animal by booking a close encounter!

For an extra fee, you can seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and take part in a training or feeding session alongside Aquarium staff.

Become A Member in Vancouver Aquarium

Experience year-round access to our diverse collection of 65,000 fascinating animals and cultivate a lasting appreciation for the wonders of the underwater realm.

Forge cherished family moments amidst our top-notch Vancouver Aquarium exhibits and special member gatherings.

Additionally, take advantage of exclusive bring-a-friend free days to share these extraordinary encounters with your loved ones.

Internationally Recognized

The Vancouver Aquarium garners international acclaim for its exceptional display and interpretation standards.

It was a pioneer in integrating professional naturalists and interpretive specialists into its galleries to elucidate animal behaviors.

Vancouver Aquarium FAQs

Can you eat at the Vancouver Aquarium?

Yes, you can eat at the Vancouver Aquarium. They offer dining options, including a café and a restaurant, where visitors can enjoy meals and snacks during their visit while supporting the aquarium’s conservation efforts.

Is the Vancouver Aquarium all indoors?

No, Vancouver Aquarium is not all indoors as it features some outdoor exhibits and attractions, allowing visitors to explore aspects of marine life and conservation in outdoor environments, such as outdoor pools and viewing areas.

Is Vancouver Aquarium worth going?

Yes, the Vancouver Aquarium is worth going to as it offers captivating marine exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs, making it a worthwhile visit for individuals interested in marine life and conservation efforts.

What is so special about the Vancouver Aquarium?

The special thing about the Vancouver Aquarium is its diverse marine exhibits, interactive displays, and commitment to conservation, providing visitors with an immersive experience and promoting awareness of marine life conservation efforts.

Where is the Vancouver Aquarium?

The Vancouver Aquarium is located at 845 Avison Way, a short distance from Downtown in Stanley Park, one of the most spectacular urban parks in the world.

Who owns the Vancouver Aquarium?

Vancouver Aquarium is publicly owned and is operated as a non-profit organization.

What time does the Vancouver Aquarium open?

The Aquarium is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm during low season and 9:30 am to 6:00 pm during high season.

Does the Vancouver Aquarium have Belugas?

Yes, the Vancouver Aquarium has beluga whales. However, in 2018, they announced they would no longer keep cetaceans in captivity, following significant public debate and changes in legislation.

How long should I stay at the Vancouver Aquarium?

The recommended stay at the Vancouver Aquarium is at least 2 hours per visit. If you intend to visit the 4D Experience Theatre you should tack on an extra hour.

Still planning on Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium?

We’ve extensively discussed the Vancouver Aquarium, perhaps to the point of exhaustion, but could it be that we’re lacking a few fish in our tank of knowledge?

Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about Vancouver for local answers ASAP!

Photo credits: Vancouver Aquarium

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