When we went to Cornwall in February half term we made sure to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek – the further place we have been to with our Merlin Annual Passes!
Before we arrived at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary I knew nothing about it, and thought it would just be seals how wrong could I be! There is so much more than seals, so much to see and so much to do. We spent an afternoon there but it could easily have been a whole day.
I thought I’d put together my top tips for visiting the Cornish Seal Sanctuary with children – so here goes.
When you arrive you’re handed a flier with all the animal feeding and talk times. These are pretty much a whole day’s worth of entertainment that can lead you around the park, teaching you things as you go. If your children love watching animals get fed or learning more about animals then this is well worth keeping an eye on to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
As well as the main feeding and talk times there’s also a Rock Pool where you can get hands on with crabs and starfish. This is a great part of the day and another that is only open at certain times so make sure you don’t miss it.
About halfway round the sanctuary there’s a pirate play area which the children absolutely loved. If you make sure you get to it about halfway through your visit it’s a great place to stop for refreshments and a play – especially as it’s right next to the restaurant and a gift shop.
Make sure you pack your wellies! The Nature Trail and Farm Animal areas are both very muddy at certain times of the year and we would have avoided those areas without our wellies on. Make the most of the day by making sure you are prepared for all weather.
After you have paid to enter the sanctuary there’s a ten minute walk downhill to the start of the attractions. The Seal Hospital is the first thing you come to and it can be quite a sad or positive place depending on how you pitch it to the children. Some of the seals we saw looked very sad but they were being fixed up by the lovely doctors to help them get back to the wild. The Seal Sanctuary does amazing things and the hospital shows you behind the scenes of that.
To really make the most of your visit, make sure you stop at the Underwater Viewing Areas. You may need to wait a while before you see any action but in one enclosure we had sea lions swimming right past us and penguins in another. Have patience and just keep looking!
The Seal Sanctuary has a great restaurant in it but it’s also set up to be the perfect place for a picnic too. There are so many picnic benches and expanses of land to set out a picnic rug. This makes the day as cheap or expensive as you like – and you could always take a picnic but buy some lovely hot drinks too!
We found that the Seal Sanctuary had toilets in just the right places – at the main ticket office building where you start and end the day and also near the farm animals as you get down to the main part of the sanctuary. But, they are a couple of minutes walk from the play area – worth noting if you have a potty training toddler!
Most of the Seal Sanctuary is pushchair and wheelchair accesible apart from maybe the nature trail that may be a little on the bumpy side. There are ramps up to the hospital building and all of the pools are really accesible.
So much of the Seal Sanctuary is under cover – with covered underwater viewing areas, the discovery centre and the seal hospital making it a good option for a rainy day. As long as you pack your wellies and a coat it’s a great day out whatever the weather.
When you arrive at the sanctuary the parking is very hilly. If you drive further away from the main building the car park does flatten out a little – and makes parking less of a scary prospect!
We had such a great day at the Seal Sanctuary and got to see so many animals – seals, sea lions, penguins and even farm animals. It was a great day out for the whole family and I’m sure we’ll be back next time we venture to Cornwall.
Disclosure: We are working with Merlin Annual Pass this year as ambassadors – thanks Merlin for providing the year of fun for our family.