The North Carolina Aquarium remains 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, sharks and daily dive shows in the 285,000-gallon Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit while learning about the marine life that inhabits the actual shipwrecks off the Outer Banks coast. Explore a sunken Spanish galleon in the the Sea Treasures gallery. Explore aquatic habitats from the Alligator River to Gulf Stream waters, and let the kids play in an interactive Gulf Stream splash pad. Gently stroke a stingray or touch a hermit crab in the Sea Senses gallery, and learn more about these underwater critters. In the Wild Wetlands gallery, watch alligators, otters, turtles and more from the surrounding natural habitat. See sea turtle rescue in action at the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. Then enjoy some of the best views on the island as you stroll down their Soundside Pier, then jump back into pre-history with the return of Dinosaurs (coming in the summer of 2018)! Register for special programs that take you behind the scenes to see animal feedings, enjoy kids programs or even dive with sharks (open to certified divers only).
Activities aren’t limited to water. Neptune’s Theater offers films, animal encounters and programs on the Science on a Sphere experience. 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. Admission is $12.95 for ages 13 to 61; $11.95 for ages 62 and older; $11.95 for members of the military; $10.95 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.