Page update - Oct 22, 2022
The Emirate of Sharjah holds the record in the UAE for the concentration of museums and mosques, but entertainment venues are few if compared with neighboring Dubai. The Sharjah Aquarium opened on June 16, 2009 and has become the highlight of the emirate's tourist attraction.
There are 20 aquariums of different sizes with a total volume of 0,48 million gallons (1.8 million liters). You can see marine animals not only of the Persian Gulf, but also of coral reefs in other parts of the world. In addition, there are several interactive activities and a pool where you can touch the sea creatures.
By the situation of October 2022, the Sharjah Oceanarium is open to the public. As of September 28, 2022, all emirates have removed the requirement to wear masks in stores and malls, hotels, cafes and restaurants. However! The authorities did not say exactly about public aquariums and other entertainment facilities. Each entertainment venue now defines its own rules. The Sharjah Oceanarium does not require visitors to wear masks.
However, just in case, it is advisable to have a mask with you. The mask is small and does not take up much room in your pocket. It is advisable to have a mask with you during your entire visit to the UAE.
The Sharjah Aquarium is commonly compared to Dubai's ones. And the comparison is not in favor of Sharjah. The main Aquarium of the Dubai Mall has a volume of 2.64 million gallons (10 million liters), compared to of 0,48 million gallons (1.8 million liters) in Sharjah. At The Lost Chambers, only the main Ambassador Lagoon aquarium has a volume of 2.64 million gallons (10 million liters) liters and all the aquariums have a volume of 11.1 million gallons (42 million liters).
That is, the Sharjah Aquarium is really small when compared to Dubai's ones, and the drive from Sharjah to Dubai is inexpensive and quick, as we discussed in the review "How to Get to Dubai from Sharjah".
The Sharjah Aquarium has its advantages. The first is the price of only 25 dirhams (AED) to enter, while you'll pay more than 100 dirhams to enter Dubai's ones. In addition, the ticket price includes a visit to the Sharjah Maritime Museum.
Sharjah Aquarium is praised by many tourists. The fish seem bright and colorful, and almost all marine animals are active. This is an achievement of D J Willrich (DJW) company, who worked on the light and climatic systems. The lighting is chosen to match that of nature at appropriate depths. During the day, the animals get their usual level of light which makes them active. Several dozen species of corals grow successfully there, and this thanks to properly chosen light too.
For photography lovers, the Sharjah Aquarium is a real treat. There is almost no glare from the lights, and you don't have to "jump" around to catch a glare-free angle. DJW specialists have placed almost all the light sources above the water.
Another DJW creation is the interactive screens around the aquariums. You can read in English or Arabic about the inhabitants on the screens, and watch video clips about the marine creatures. Another DJW creation is the statues of sea animals at the entrance.
Find your flight
The Sharjah Aquarium is located in the western part of the emirate, in the Al Khan area, opposite the beach of the same name. It is almost on the border with the Emirate of Dubai. Those who are good swimmers can swim 1000 feet (300 meters) from Al Khan to Dubai to Al-Mamzar beach in the Deira area.
If you vacation in Sharjah, you can walk from some hotels, such as: Al Bustan, Lavender, Carlton Sharjah, Sharjah Grand, Sharjah Beach.
In the case of the other hotels, it is easy to get by cab. The journey price is from 13,5 to 25 dirhams (AED). There is a big variation in prices due to the location of the hotel relately to the Sharjah Aquarium. If your hotel is in the eastern part of Sharjah Emirate (near Emirate of Ajman border) then you will pay 25 dirhams. If your hotel is in the western part of the emirate, a few kilometers away, then you'll pay 13.5 dirhams. See the current exchange rates in our review "The UAE dirham", and see the cab fares in the review "Taxis in Sharjah and the UAE".
All days except Fridays: from 8 am to 8 pm (8-00 to 20-00);
Friday: from 4 pm to 8 pm (16-00 to 20-00);
During the month of Ramadan:
All days except Fridays: 9 am to 2 pm & 9 pm to 11 pm (9-00 to 14-00 & 21-00 to 23-00);
Closed in the evening in the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan.
Friday: 9 pm to 11 pm (21-00 to 23-00).
For adults (persons 13 years and older): 25 dirhams;
For children (2 to 12 years old): 15 dirhams;
Children under 2 years old: free of charge.
Find your hotel
Plan to spend inside for about an hour. There are 20 aquariums in total, some won't attract you for even more than a minute. In all, there are more than 250 species of marine animals. In the beginning, in 2009 there were only 30 species, a year later there were 50, now (in 2022) there are more than 250.
Check out the information on the interactive panels as it is interesting.
Most tourists like to watch sharks. At the Sharjah Aquarium the sharks live in the main aquarium, which you can see either from above by walking along the special pier or below by walking through the tunnel. By the way, the tunnel is quite small.
Among the interesting species are morays, seahorses, clownfish, lionfish. Mobula rays are very interesting as they can jump out over the water, but this sight can be seen very rarely in artificial aquariums. Mobulas are easily recognized by the two large "horns" on his snout so these stingrays are also called "hornies".
One of the aquariums works as a touch-show so you can touch starfish and stingrays there. Naturally, only species that are not dangerous to humans are collected there.
In one of the rooms there is a powerful projector that generates pictures of fish on the floor imitating a sea bottom. You can chase the fish, children especially love this active entertainment. Attention! Do not look up towards the projector, the light is powerful and harmful to the eyes.
After the exit you can stop in front of the building. There are several statues of fish and sea animals, models of boats. Visitors love to take pictures near them. Look at the fountains also. The Arabs consider such plenty of water a sign of luxury. On the way to the museum there is a "dry fountain" that is another great attraction for children.
There is a children's playground nearby. We strongly recommend not showing it to the kids before getting in, as they will use up all their energy playing and there won't be any left for the fish exposition. Fortunately, the playground is located closer to the museum, and it is almost not visible from the Sharjah Aquarium building.
- During the summer season, plan your visit during peak sunlight hours (12 noon to 3 pm) as it's best to be indoors during these hours. Read our review "Weather in Sharjah and the UAE by month";
- There are no exchange offices in the Al Khan area and near. Change money in advance as you will need dirhams at the cashier. Read our review "How to change currency in Sharjah and the UAE";
- There is a cafe inside, but the range of snacks is narrow. The Al Khan area is poor in cafes and restaurants. If you get hungry, go to the Maritime Museum, pass the Maritime Museum, walk 1000 feet (300 meters) until Al Khan Street, and turn right to stores and cafes;
- There are no stores in Al Khan area, so make sure you have plenty of water;
- Good news for tourists traveling by car. Both the aquarium and the museum provide free parking;
- There is a changing room, restrooms, and facilities for disabled in the building. Free WiFi is available;
- Don't forget that Sharjah has a dress code in public places. Read about it in detail in our review "What you can't do in Sharjah and the UAE".
Enjoy your visit to the fish paradise Sharjah, and read our interesting pages about the UAE (find the list of the pages below).
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