Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

My big trip in 2016 was to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that I’ve felt that I should see, and now I have, it was majestic. Las Vegas is a destination that a majority of people will visit at least once in their life, so why not. Let the western U.S. adventures begin…

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, located in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm, Friday to Saturday from 10am to 10pm, and during the summer months, it’s open until 10pm daily. Admission to the aquarium is $20. The aquarium is accessible by car, public transportation or walking. The resort where the aquarium is housed does contain a parking lot, but I’m unsure if there are fees are not, as I didn’t drive around. The aquarium is easy to get to using public transportation, just take the Deuce or SDX buses to the Mandalay Bay stop. The Deuce or SDX buses are the two that visitors will become most familiar with when visiting Vegas as they are the two buses that travel along the Strip and to downtown Vegas. If you’re in Vegas and need to take public transportation, buy the 24-hour pass as it’s only $2 more than the 2-hour pass, and is valid for a full 24 hours. (There are other types of passes available, check the RTC website for more information.) Finally, walking to the aquarium is a possibility, but note that the blocks are actually more like really long avenues, walking just one block will take about 10 minutes. (I did some walking some days to save money, but if you plan really well, you can get by with the 24-hour pass.) Las Vegas has lots of fun things to do, so check out the various hotels and resorts to see what is interesting.

Shark Reef Aquarium is nestled within the resort, so it’s still a bit of walk inside, but there are plenty of signs to lead visitors to the correct place. The aquarium is on the small side, where the rooms are interconnected by hallways, so that all visitors take the same pathway to view the animals. The aquarium starts with what it designates as the “Jungle” area, where visitors can see a Golden Crocodile, a Komodo Dragon and Amazon Predators. The area is decorated rather lavishly with trees and even a statue (since this is Vegas, even there aquarium is a bit vibrant). Moving on is the “Temple” area, where the first of two underwater tunnels is located; this one highlights Indo-Pacific fishes, which include angelfish and sharks swimming all around and above (I’m a big fan of underwater tunnels, so this was a pleasant surprise). Exiting the underwater tunnel, visitors can  view sea jellies and an octopus. Also in the “Temple” area is a touch tank featuring horse crabs and stingrays. The last area is “Shipwreck” and highlights the aquarium’s namesake, sharks. There are actually two shark exhibits, one is a standard exhibit with the big window for viewing, and the other is the underwater tunnel where the sharks are swimming everywhere. (This one was popular when I visited, people were lingering in the tunnel. )

My usual travel companion and I spent only 30 minutes at the aquarium, but I think most visitors will need another 15-30 minutes to fully take in everything the aquarium has to offer (we had to move fast since we had a timed excursion after.) As always, the times are just suggestions, so others may take even less time or a lot more if they deem it necessary. As to the admission price, I’m not sure if it’s a fair price or not. On the one hand, there are plenty of exhibits (and underwater tunnels), and the aquarium is clean and well maintained. However, on the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be enough to see since I was able to go through it so fast, it makes me feel it wasn’t worth the price. Any who, shark enthusiasts should definitely take a visit since there’s plenty of sharks to see. Families with children may want to consider visiting as it’s something the kids can do in Vegas ( I don’t think they can be gambling in the casinos just yet.) When you need a break from all the gambling and entertainment that Vegas has to offer, take a visit to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay to feel slightly closer to nature.


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