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Ways to Experience Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Reviews (3,497)
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1,834
1,068
451
100
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Traveller rating
1,834
1,068
451
100
44
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Never knew that whales came through VA waters - thought this would be a fun thing to try ...
Booked a Saturday morning trip - when we arrived the departure was delayed while they sent a team out to assess the waves(it was a little windy) so we were allowed to go poke around in the aquarium gift shop. They decided we were a go (yay!) and got folks loaded up quickly- including a pause for photo op (pictures available to purchase when you return). Not sure how many tickets they normally sell, but in COVID each trip is limited to 66 people- our boat was sold out and it felt like the right amount to be able to move around the boat and have a seat - don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if the boat were more crowded... There are indoor and outdoor seats, restrooms and a small snack bar. If going in cold weather bundle up ... we sat outside - but if you can get on the sunny side of the boat(we switched sides on the way back to stay in the sun) it’s not too bad. I also brought a blanket we ended up sitting on - bench seats outside are metal and icy cold.

The trip is guided by aquarium educators who tell you quite a bit about the marsh and the animals you see (or hope to see) and our group had an excellent enthusiastic young lady narrating. We saw birds all along the marsh and a pair of dolphins as we were passing thru the inlet - great start! We putted out past the bigger waves into the more open ocean and began our hunt ... sure enough about 20 minutes offshore a humpback whale!!! While he wasn’t huge he was active! (humpbacks are small whales to begin with when compared to a blue whale - and he was young ) He would surface with a nice spout and roll along the waves.. wish he had dove deep to really flip up his tail - or even better done a breech jump - but it was still very cool to see one in real life out in the wild!

The pilot of our boat (along with 3 others from other watching cruises) did an awesome job of staying near enough to him we were able to watch - and consistently moved the boat around a bit so no matter what side you were on you had quite a few chances to see the whale. We had a nice lengthy watch time and then headed back.
(Just in time -I do get sea-sick and knowing the potential for a windy bumpy ride I took some Dramamine that was wearing off) As we were getting back to the inlet - flying our “we saw a whale!” flag - they also spotted a harbor seal in front of the boat- but I missed it :(
Of course seeing animals in the wild is never a guarantee- and I would have been sad to have not seen a whale- but I think the team running this trip deserve a great rating even if we didn’t see the whale .. they were professional, friendly, and great educators - which after all is the point of trips like this- learn about the world around you!

Date of experience: January 2021
Thank travelnfoxes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 January 2021

So enjoyed our visit! Have been three times now and each time they have new and exciting features. Don't miss this!

Date of experience: February 2020
Thank dewightking
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2021

This is a pretty average aquarium but overpriced for what is available. Understand that part of the museum is being reconstructed/new construction so there might be more to see normally. There are some unique exhibits associated with the Tidewater and Chesapeake Bay areas but there is nothing particularly special about the museum overall.

Date of experience: December 2020
1  Thank USNA70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2021

I love going to the aquarium! Very friendly staff! Informative staff, also. They have plenty of hand sanitizing stations. It is just so peaceful to sit and watch the big aquarium.

Date of experience: January 2021
Thank cowgirlupsilverado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2021

Another wonderful opportunity to get out and about, get some exercise and help to keep the Aquarium "a-float".

Date of experience: January 2021
Thank Folmillizziello
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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