From an upgraded water park and the opportunity to snorkel with a shark to new dining options and a wildlife rescue center, the incredible new additions to the Texas State Aquarium are worth checking out during your visit. Read on to learn what these additions offer and where you can find them:
New, improved, and three times its original size, the 15,000 sq. ft. H-E-B Splash Park is filled with pure aquatic excitement for kids of all ages. The new design, which mimics the aquatic and terrestrial habitats of the Caribbean and its animals, includes all new custom water features. The multi-level slide, 350-gallon water dump, and small spray features make this park great for kids of all ages.
Parents can stay cool in a shaded seating area with 30 umbrella-covered tables, and there are plenty of snack options to keep everyone fueled – there’s even a mobile ordering food service from the Pepsi Shoreline Grill, the aquarium’s main restaurant. Admission to the Splash Park is included in your admission, but make sure you allow plenty of time to let the kiddos splash around - they turn the water off 15 minutes prior to closing to allow guests time to exit before the facility closes.
You’ve been walking all day, and now it’s time to round up the family and get some delicious food! Stop by one or all of the brand-new dining options making waves around the aquarium.
For a more elevated, sit-down experience, head to Canopy for a taste of house-made South Texas favorites. Located in the Caribbean Jungle Overlook, the Canopy features a range of food options from soups and salads to burgers and sandwiches. The brisket sandwich, gumbo, and Riviera bowl are crowd favorites.
As you’re walking through the H-E-B Caribbean Sea exhibit, you’ll find Fathoms, a small café style eatery featuring kid-friendly favorites like Frito Pie, Dippin’ Dots ice cream, popcorn, pretzels, and more. While you grab a quick bite, have a seat in their dining area, and watch the sharks and other aquatic species navigate the Spanish galleon shipwreck from the 68-foot-long acrylic window.
Enjoy an outdoor experience while relaxing on the porch swing or picnic benches while eating a sausage dog and sipping a cool beverage at The Back Porch. This seasonal dining option is located outside along the water just past Tortuga Cay, and features gourmet versions of classics like hot dogs and nachos. Choose from classic or gourmet hot dogs, brisket nachos, BBQ brisket sandwiches, plenty of drinks, and snack options for a delicious and scenic experience.
Snorkel with a Shark
For the water lover with an adventurous soul, try the Snorkel with a Shark Exclusive Encounter to elevate your trip to the aquarium. This fun and educational experience provides a safe way to get close to sandbar sharks and other species of fish. Start by learning the different species you’ll encounter, their biology, and how we can protect them in the wild before heading out to the 10’x10’ cage specially designed for this swimming experience in 400,000 gallons of 72-degree water.
You don’t need to be a professional scuba diver or swimmer, but safety is always a priority! Children and adults 8 and up are welcome, but any child between the ages of 8-12 must be accompanied by a paid adult that is part of the 4 guests allowed. You can take photos and videos with a GoPro provided by the aquarium but keep your hands and feet in the cage at all times. Your guide will be there with you the entire time if you have any questions, and at the end, they will email you photos and videos that you captured during your experience.
Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue
The new Wildlife Rescue Center is the largest coastal wildlife rescue facility in Texas, and one of the largest in the United States. In fact, it is the only Texas wildlife rescue facility permitted to treat marine mammals, raptors, shorebirds, and sea turtles, along with accommodating thousands of animals at any given time. Services provided by this state-of-the-art hospital range from simply providing a safe, temporary refuge for an exhausted migratory shorebird to acute medical care for an ill dolphin. The center also includes an interpretive gallery, an emergency operations center, and the only CAT scan used specifically for wildlife in Texas.
Between the hours of 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, get a behind-the-scenes look at the treatment of these animals while learning about their conservation efforts and sustainability, along with understanding how the community can help protect wildlife. Access to the rescue center is included in your admission.