13 jaunts to the coast, because in Britain you're never very far from the sea. And that means you're never more than an hour or so's drive from: watching the tide go in and out, ice cream-licking, slot-machine squandering, swimming, paddling, rock-pooling, kite-flying, cricket-playing, fossiling, beach-combing, dressing under a towel, sandcastle- building (we favour a garden spade over the tinny jobs sold at beach huts), or sunset-watching. To find some unexpected places within your day trip orbit, go to www.britishresorts.co.uk/.

1. Anglesey Sea Zoo Brynsiencyn, Isle of Anglesey

Exhibition of sealife from around the coast of Anglesey features more than 50 species, plus underwater camera, tropical displays and lobster hatchery. Open: daily, 10am. £6.95; child, £5.95; senior, £6.50; family (two plus two), £23.80. (01248 430411).

2. Aquarium of the Lakes, Newby Bridge, Cumbria

More than 30 habitats showing aquatic wildlife of the Lake District. River, lake, seashore and bay species include otters, trout, eels, pike, perch, giant crabs, rays, carp, and diving ducks.

Open: daily, 9am. £6.25; child 3-15, £3.95; senior, £5.50; family (two plus two), £18. (01539 530153).

3. Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

With 10 species, has more kinds of shark than anywhere else in UK, all of which can be seen from the 70m Aquatunnel. Blue Planet also has an impressive record of breeding endangered species, such as Southern stingrays, blue poison arrow frogs and dyed poison arrow frogs.

Open: daily, 10am. £9.95; child 3-15, £7.50; senior, £7.50; family (two plus two), £34. (0151-357 8804).

4. Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay, Cornwall

Local marine species plus tropical species in the ocean display complete with underwater tunnel. Coral reef with angelfish, puffer fish and octopuses who unscrew jam jars to get at their food.

Open: daily, 10am. £6.50; child 3-16, £4.50; senior, £5.50; family (two plus two), £18.99. (01637 878134).

5. Blue Reef Aquarium, Southsea, Hampshire

Similar to its Cornish cousin above, but with added poisonous frogs.

Open: daily, 10am. £6.95; child, 3-16, £4.50; senior, £5.50; family (two plus two), £19.99. (02392 875222).

6. Blue Reef Aquarium, Tynemouth

This Blue Reef overlooks the North Sea. Its local marine species swim alongside tropical species visible from the underwater tunnel. The otter display is new this year.

Open: daily, 10am. £5.50; child, 3-16, £3.75; senior, £4.95; family (two plus two), £16.95. (0191-258 1031).

7O. ceanarium, Bournemouth, Dorset

Extensive aquarium has themed displays on species from the world's major seas. There are also touch-screen games, feeding demonstrations, documentaries, and walk-through underwater tunnel. Open: daily, 10am. £6.50; child 3-15, £4.50; senior, £5.50; family (two plus two), £18. (01202 311993).

8. The Deep, Hull Yorkshire

Seven species of shark, conger eels, rays in 2.5 million litres of water watched from Europe's deepest viewing tunnel, reached by the world's only underwater lift. All that plus our favourite, the fibbing fish, which imitates other species. Open: daily, 10am. £7.50; child, £5.50; senior, £6.00; family (two plus two), £23. (01482 381000).

9. Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, Norfolk

Seal hospital, aquarium, otters, and penguins on north Norfolk coast. Open: daily, 10am. £9.50; child or senior, £6.50. (01485 533576).

10. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, Devon

Britain's largest aquarium, the first to be dedicated to scientific and conservation work houses Europe's largest tank and is run by a charity concerned with the marine environment. Open: daily, 10am. £8.75; child 4-15, £5.25; senior, £7.25; family (two plus two), £25. (01752 600301).

11. National Seal Sanctuary, near Helston, Cornwall

Set in the picturesque Helford estuary, the sanctuary is a busy rescue centre, and houses grey seals, common seals, Californian and Patagonian sea lions, goats, ponies and otters.

Open: daily, 10am. £10.50; child 3-14 and seniors, £7.95; family (two plus two), £29.95. (01326 221361).

12. Natureland Seal Sanctuary, Skegness, Lincolnshire

Seal hospital, jackass penguins, tank with North Sea species such as rays, sharks and bass; coral fish and butterflies in the Tropical House, and a Floral Palace, plus pets' corner. Seal-feeding time is fun.

Open: daily, 10am. £5.20; senior, £4.15; child, £3.40; family (two plus two), £15.50. (01754 764345).

13. St Andrews Aquarium, St Andrews, Fife

More than 30 exhibition tanks, featuring sea-urchins, sharks, piranhas, clown fish and finny friends.

Open: daily, 10am. £5.95; child 3-14 , senior, £4.95; family (two plus two), £17.50. (01334 474786).

Comments