Last week, my husband’s parents came to visit for a couple days. Just before they arrived, I saw a Groupon for half-price admissions to the Pacific Undersea Gardens here in Victoria. Perfect, I thought, clicking on “Buy.” We’d looked at the Undersea Gardens last time they visited, but hadn’t been there yet.
On Friday morning, we made our way downtown and walked along the harbour to the Gardens. Leaving behind the bright sunshine, we ventured into the darkness undersea. Because of the Easter Weekend, the place was quiet—we had it to ourselves for the first little bit. The Gardens are very small, so it was nice that we didn’t have to jostle other people to view the aquariums.
One disadvantage of the Gardens it that the windows to the aquariums are small (only a couple feet square) and located at eye-level for an adult, meaning that we had to hold Sunshine and Lily up for them to see the fish and crabs. They were quite excited about any of the moving animals, but were less interested in just looking at the gently waving white anemones or the fish who just sat on the rocks, opening and closing their mouths while staring back at us with big, googly eyes.
In the middle of the aquariums was a small, open tide pool. Sunshine and Lily enjoyed looking at this, as it was easier to view the starfish without peering through algae-spattered glass. However, a sign warned us that we couldn’t touch the animals (despite the website’s promise otherwise). Some of the starfish in the tide pool looked like they’d seen better days, but the contrast of the red marine life with the grey rocks was quite pretty.
Finally, we went into the theatre area to view the biggest aquarium. There wasn’t a show there this weekend, so we just viewed the fish swimming around. A large school of spiky grey fish were hanging in the water, staring up at towards the surface (perhaps waiting for feeding time?). A large group of crabs was congregated on another side of the aquarium.
The greatest excitement was when the large, grey eel left his resting place near the glass and began swimming laps around the tank. All four feet of his body waved along behind his head as he cruise, seemingly effortlessly, past the gaping fish and behind the rocks and in front of the glass where we all pointed and cheered.
We spent about half an hour in the aquariums, letting the girls look around. Overall, I would have been disappointed with it if we had paid full price, so I’d recommend watching for a coupon. Other than the red starfish, most of the fish were less spectacular than those you’d find in tropic waters (or other aquariums), but signs above the tanks provided more information about the fish and plants and their natural habitat around here.
If you are planning a trip to Victoria, check out my posts about exploring the Island. Do you ever become a tourist in your hometown? What places do you show off when company comes to visit?
UPDATE: The Pacific Undersea Gardens closed their doors in October, 2013. I recommend checking out the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre if you are visiting the Victoria area.