The North Carolina Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks, and it got a fantastic renovation that was completed in the summer of 2016. Yes, it's perfect for a rainy day, but you will also appreciate the cool, quiet environment when you've had enough of the sun. Just stepping into the aquarium’s lobby is like diving into the ocean’s depths. Explore the Waters of the Outer Banks through aquariums and interactive exhibits. Watch fish in the Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit while learning about the marine life that inhabits the actual shipwrecks off the Outer Banks coast, thanks to the Sea Treasures exhibit. This 285,000-galleon aquarium also features a one-third scale replica of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor in the Ironclad Sanctuary. Explore aquatic habitats from grass flats to Gulf Stream waters, including the shark aquarium with the Gulf Stream interactive exhibit. Gently stroke a stingray or touch a hermit crab in their Sea Senses interactive exhibit, and you may even have the opportunity to feed the critters. See daily dive shows and the Wild Wetlands exhibit with alligators, otters, turtles and the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. Engage is a question and answer session with professional divers. Enjoy some of the best views on the island as you stroll down their Soundside Pier and learn about the area's history and environment in the NaturePlay area. Dive with sharks in their Aquarium Shark Dive program (open to certified divers only).
Activities aren’t limited to water – Neptune’s Theater offers films and programs featuring a new Science on a Sphere experience. Make your family’s island experience truly fin-tastic by participating in one of their special activities or programs, where fun and learning meet! Pre-registration is required. The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; last tickets are sold at 4:30 p.m. In season, admission is $12.95 for ages 13 to 61; $11.95 for ages 62 and older; $11.95 for members of the military; $9.95 for children ages 3 to 12; and free for children 2 and younger, pre-registered North Carolina school groups and North Carolina Aquarium Society members. For information on renting the Aquarium for special Outer Banks activities such as weddings or receptions, purchasing tickets and registering for programs online, give them a call. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is a Member Site of the Historic Albemarle Tour.