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What A Lot of Fish There Are:Dubai’s Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Varun loves Dr Suess book One Fish, Two fish. He can almost’ read’ it from memory. Naturally given that interest, one of the first things we did in Dubai was to take him to the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

Located in the Dubai Mall, you can see the huge wall of aquarium tank with all kinds of fishes even without entering the aquarium. As an adult that would be sufficient to say you saw the Aquarium. Or try snorkeling or learn to dive. With a kid its a different story. Walk in the tunnel sounded fun with fishes floating all around. Varun always likes any kind of boat ride and while we didn’t really care for the underwater zoo, the hanging rope bridge there turned out to be most fun for Varun.

We had a 2 for 1 coupon (from Entertainer) for Adults ultimate ticket which included the glass bottom tour, walk through the tunnel and visit to the underwater zoo. We planned to be there just as they opened to avoid a crowd.

Walk through the Underwater Tunnel

Tunnel in Dubai Aquarium & underwater park

While we were waiting in line for the ticket, Varun was excited to see the fishes, but once in the tunnel, he didn’t care much about it. There were schools groups on trips and the teachers seemed to make the aquarium very interesting ( from identifying colors and shapes for younger kids, to talking about food and habitat with older kids).  The tunnel is really only 75 m long which is not too long if you think about it.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

And it ends abruptly. Like a rude awakening you exit and walk through a small Photo Booth and souvenir shop and have to go up the escalator outside the aquarium to see the underwater zoo.

Underwater Zoo 

The underwater zoo was more interesting. With lots of fish tanks with different colorful fishes, crabs, star fishes, penguins, crocodiles and even some creepy crawlies ( snakes, iguanas); Varun liked this section the most. But whenever there was a school group he would lose interest and run to the next tank.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

He liked the rope hanging bridge in the creepy-crawlies section and just enjoyed running from one end to another.  We literally had to drag him out of there when a large school group arrived.

Glass bottom Boat ride

By then it was time for our glass bottom boat ride (a time slot if pre-assigned when you buy the tickets). Varun was amused to put on the life jacket and then loved seeing the fishes from a different perspective. He didn’t know where to look – out of the boat or through the glass bottom.  The boat ride is about 10 – 15 mins.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

After the boat ride though he was a bit tired (from the move, travel and jet lag). Overall it was a good start to the 3-week long vacation.

We headed to lunch while he napped in the stroller.

Stay tuned for more adventures in Dubai. 

Missed earlier posts about Dubai?? See them all starting here.

Modern Opulence Of Dubai

Iconic Al Burj in Dubai

Dubai – it evokes all kinds of emotions.

A desert oasis, cosmopolitan city on persian gulf, progressive, and a city of superlatives: man-made islands, largest indoor ski, worlds best 7 star luxury resort, tallest building and tallest musical fountains. It’s also a city of extremes – modest but progressive Emirati (as people of UAE are known) rubbing shoulders with the folks dressed in latest fashions and trends; glitzy towering high rises overlooking traditional mosques; high desert temperatures outside with the coolest of the air-conditioning indoors; arid desert surrounding turquoise swimming pools in almost all hotels (without the water fee as charged in Las Vegas); traditional gold souks and glittering malls with displays of diamonds and gold as if its going out of fashion.

Dressed in Traditional Emirati Attire in Dubai

We always thought we will visit Dubai en-route to US or India. It was always an after thought. But lugging so many bags was never appealing and we never visited Dubai.

This time however, we had no choice but to break our journey in Dubai. Hyderabad has best connections to San Francisco via Dubai on Emirates airlines. The Dubai – SFO flight usually leaves around 9:00 am local time. Which means we have to leave Hyderabad at 2:00 am to make it to Dubai on time. With a toddler and almost in my third trimester, I didn’t want to travel in middle of night. So we decided to take a day flight to Dubai and stay there for a few days.

Sheik Zayed Road Skyscrapers in Dubai

Plus, the service on Emirates is top-notch. I trusted them to help me out incase I experienced any issues en-route than any European airline.

With the dates planned out, we were set to make rest of the planning; activities, lodging, visa etc.

UAE Visa

If you are flying with Emirates, getting a visa is a breeze. They have an option to apply for a visa online. You fill in passport details. upload a photo online and pay for it. Visa is emailed to you on approval. Simple and efficient.

Makes you wonder why other countries don’t follow this simple procedure?

Worlds Tallest Building - Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Where to Stay 

Dubai officially has many areas to stay and visit but as tourist ( and one with kids), you want to base yourself in one of the two areas: around Dubai Mall or in Dubai Marina. Both are happening areas with tons of activities, restaurants and lodging options from luxury condos to hotels.

If its your first visit to the city, don’t stay at the beach resort if you plan to do other sight-seeing. Dubai is not really known for its beaches and you will have to hail a cab every time you need to visit the city’s attractions.

Traditional Towers to Channel Cooling Wind in Dubai

We chose to stay near Dubai Mall at Al Murooj Rotana. As we planned this trip fairly last-minute, budget was the main reason for going for this hotel. But we were glad with the room, its size, amenities on the property (swimming pool, Wi-Fi, Club room with breakfast and proximity to Dubai Mall. There was some mix up when we got there, we got a teeny tiny room assigned but managed to get it changed.

A Mosque in Bur Dubai

Also, we had a promotional mailer to upgrade to Club Room which we signed up for. At 130 AED  this entitled us to breakfast, wi-fi in room and evening snacks/tapas and drinks. A steal really if you consider the cost individually. But when we reached there they said that the promotional offer is expired at that price but the same is available for 250 AED.

Given that breakfast itself would have cost us 120 – 150 AED everyday, we signed up for this. In hindsight this worked out very well. We ended up making evening snacks our meals as Varun was sleepy and too tired to go out anywhere. Ordering dinner or eating at on-site restaurant would have ben even more $$.

Sunset and Camels at Dessert Safari in Dubai


Dubai has a fantastic array of activities for all ages. Skiing, Sky Diving, Hot Air Balloon rides, Zorba, Sand boarding, Sailing and Dune bashing for the more adventurous, aquarium, dolphinarium, unique kid themed museums for the kids, malls and souks for those into couture to street side shopping, to beaches and parks for those who want to just chill.

We wanted to incorporate Varun in most of our activities so that he won’t get too bored with site-seeing. This is what we went for (details in ensuing posts).

Entertainer book has 1 for 2 coupons on most of the activities below other than entry to Burj Khalifa. The book costs about AED 350 but sometimes is available on Ebay or trip advisor for a discount. Each book has 3 coupons for each activity and even restaurants. So even if someone has used one or two coupons you can still buy it from them. Even at full price for us it saved us $$ on meals and activities. Highly recommended even if you plan on doing few activities like us.

1. Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Park

2. Dubai Fountains

3. Abra Boat ride on Dubai Creek to Gold Souk

4. Ski Dubai

5. Dolphinarium

6. Jumeriah Mosque

7. Beach

8. Desert Safari with Sand dunes bashing

9. Visit Top of World at Burj Khalifa

Varun enjoyed Dubai as much as he could have, given that he was still upset over leaving Hyderabad and his stuff getting packed. He wanted to go back home to Jayabheri. But since the trip, he calls every tall building the “tallest building in the world”. Now that we are in San Francisco, he wants to go back to Dubai.

I think visiting Dubai without young kids would be way more fun. You can visit bars and restaurants that are 21 years and older that offer killer views of the city. You could indulge in Retail therapy all day long. And of course you can do all adventure sports available under the sun.

Oh well, we enjoyed what we could and we can’t wait for Varun to be older so we can do some of the activities together 🙂

Stay tuned for more Dubai trip details!

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