The East London aquarium is small but fun and informative thanks to a number of unique displays and features including a whale-watching deck, a breeding colony of African penguins and some of the best seal shows in the world.

Did you know?

Penguin chicks bred at the aquarium have been exported to the U.S.A, Israel, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland.

While it's not the biggest aquarium in the country, the East London Aquarium, opened in 1931, is the oldest and contains a number of excellent displays that make it a must-see for visitors to this charming coastal city.

Unique to this Eastern Cape aquarium is the display housing three Cape pygmy clawed lobsters – the only specimens of their kind ever housed in captivity. As impressive is the colony of African penguins that produces an average of 20 chicks per year, most of which are later exported to zoos around the world.

This aquarium in East London has always played an active role in the conservation of the Eastern Cape coastline and its estuaries, serving as a haven for injured and oiled sea birds and mammals, including turtles and dolphins, that are washed up on the region's beaches.

The East London Aquarium's prime draw card, however, is the wooden boardwalk protruding across the surf that serves as a whale-watching deck during whale season (July to September) and is part of the official Cape Whale Route.

The deck, hovering 11m above the ocean, offers visitors hours of prime whale watching and the aquarium makes sure everyone knows when whales are in the area by flying a pair of very visible blue flags as soon as any are spotted.

While the deck is used primarily for viewing southern right whales migrating southwards to their Antarctic feeding grounds, other denizens of the deep routinely make an appearance, including humpback whales (most prevalent in November), common and bottlenose dolphins, and even the odd killer whale or two.

And if no whales deign to make an appearance, you can always console yourself with a visit to the aquarium's shark tank or one of its fun seal shows.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

East London Aquarium
Tel: +27 (0)43 705 2637
Email: siani@elaquarium.co.za

How to get here

The East London Aquarium is on the beachfront esplanade of the city, easily accessible by car, taxi or bus.

Best time to visit

The aquarium is open daily from 9am-5pm.

What will it cost

R30 per adult, R18 for children and pensioners.

Length of stay

Half a day at most unless it's whale-watching season; then spend hours gazing out to sea from the aquarium's deck.

What's happening

Seal shows and penguin feeding daily at 11am and 3.30pm. Fish and shark feeding at 10.30am and 3pm daily.