See the more than 20,000 aquatic animals and plants that call Florida home at this entertaining attraction. The exhibits follow a drop of water from the springs of the Florida Wetlands Gallery, through a mangrove forest in the Bays and Beaches Gallery, and out onto the Coral Reefs, where an impressive 43-foot-wide, 14-foot-tall panoramic window lets you look out at schools of fish and lots of sharks and stingrays. Also worth visiting are the educational Explore a Shore playground, a deepwater exhibit, and a tank housing moray eels. You can look for birds and sea life on 90-minute Eco Tour cruises in the Bay Spirit, a 64-foot catamaran. The aquarium also offers a Dive with the Sharks program (tel. 813/367-4005) that gives certified divers the chance to swim with blacktip, sand tiger, and nurse sharks for 30 minutes. Don't be surprised if you come face to face with the 250-pound Goliath Grouper during the dive. The $150 price tag includes a souvenir photo and T-shirt. The Penguin promenade allows you to get up close and personal with the cute creatures in the open Penguin Promenade. Also quite popular and interactive is Ocean Commotion, the most high-tech gallery found in any aquarium in the country, utilizing state of the art technology like "smart Wi-Fi," floor to ceiling interactive displays, virtual dolphins and whales, animation and multi-media presentations. Guests can even upload their own videos to become part of the exhibit. Expect to spend 3-4 hours here.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010