Dundrum, County Down

Northern Ireland Aquarium

The Northern Ireland Aquarium is based in Portaferry, County Down and is also known as Exploris.  The Northern Ireland Aquarium was opened in 1987 to provide an insight into the diverse marine life to be found around the local coastlines.  The Northern Ireland Aquarium was so successful that it was extended and re-opened in 1994, at which point it was renamed Exploris, from the phrase "Exploration of The Irish Sea".

The Northern Ireland Aquarium has a number of discrete areas including those dedicated toStrangford Lough, the Irish Coast and the Open Sea.  There also a seal sanctuary and hospital that aims to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned, injured and sick grey and common seal pups.

From Dundrum, County Down the journey to the Northern Ireland Aquarium (Exploris) can be part of the fun of a day trip, particularly for younger children.  Head north from Dundrum until you reach the roundabout at Clough, where you take the second exit signed Downpatrick.  When you reach Downpatrick simply follow the signs for Stangford and Strangford Ferry.  When you reach Strangford head straight to the car and passenger ferry.  The ferry runs twice an hour and takes you over to Portaferry where the Northern Ireland Aquarium is based.  Details of ferry times and prices can be found on the Strangford Ferry website.