Last week we visited my Nana in Paignton and on the Wednesday we visited Torquay for the day. After finding Living Coasts in Torquay on the Visit South Devon website I knew I wanted to pay them a visit, especially as the penguins roam free which certainly isn’t something you get to see everyday.
We arrived at about 11am and thankfully the school holidays in South Devon differ to those in the North West so it wasn’t that busy and we didn’t need to queue, we just grabbed our tickets and went straight in. We wandered up the slopes, not really sure what to expect apart from the penguins and saw a sign that listed a number of feeding times and talks and knew we were in for a real treat.
The first attraction we came to was a small animated film about animals that explained the difference between those that were endangered and those that were extinct, in terms that children could understand and it had the tiddler captivated from the moment he sat down. From there we walked to the first outside enclosure, the bit I was most excited about, the penguins. Only to be a little bit disappointed. There was work being done in the area, much needed, important work, I’m sure but as a result the penguins were unable to roam free in case they got injured, which I totally understand and would rather they were kept safe but I’m not going to lie I was still a little disappointed, as were the boys. The staff in this enclosure where great, really helpful and informative and told us all about the penguins and seemed to know them by name and their individual characteristics. One member of staff even knew one of the ducks by name and that he liked to sneak into prams, which certainly conjured up a funny image of an unexpecting parent uncovering a hidden duck once home!
Once we had heard all about the animals we continued walking and reading all the information we could find and then we watched the otters playing. They were so entertaining and cute that it was hard to tear ourselves away from them but we didn’t want to miss the seal feed so we headed down the slope. The seals were larger than I expected and loving a lazy sunbath on their rocks, not in the least bit bothered by all our gawping faces and flashing cameras, in fact I’m sure one of them kept posing every time she saw a camera.
The boys found the feed most enjoyable, as did I, and we were fascinated to watch as they all responded to their names and went to their designated feeding stations where they proceeded to eat some fish but repeatedly spit others out and there was me thinking they would eat anything that resembled a fish! Once again the keepers were knowledgeable and filled us full of fun facts about each seal and their different personalities.
Luckily for us we now got to head inside as although the sun was out it was starting to get a bit chilly. I must admit at this point I thought we had nearly finished but Living Coasts is a bit like a tardis, it just keeps on going and going. We now found ourselves in a wonderfully decorated part of the attraction with yet more information to read and more sea life to view including an octopus.
As we wandered over the bridge of the sting rays we realised we couldn’t have timed it better and they were about to get fed so we watched this too. I think this was the big’uns favourite bit because he suddenly plucked up some courage and started asking the keepers a number of questions about sting rays as he stood and listened, hanging on their every word.
From here we made our way out but not before discovering all the interactive areas including a sand pit, an under water tunnel and an indoor play area which the tiddler “absolutely had to try”. A fantastic area for the little ones to run off some steam.
Overall we had the most wonderful and informative morning and despite the penguins not marching across the zebra crossing for us we really enjoyed it and would recommend that you pay them a visit if you are in the area. As for us, well I guess it just means we will need to go back for a second trip next time we visit the area to see the penguins roam free, which I don’t think you will hear any of us complaining about.
If you are planning a visit I would recommend that you allow yourselves a good few hours to complete the attraction, there is a lot to see and do and there is no reason why you cant go back and forth from one animal to another to see all the talks and feeding times, there is even a café if you wish to eat during your visit and make a day of it. I would also recommend that you wrap up warm with removable layers as a number of the enclosures are open aired and the breeze coming off the sea can get a bit chilly but for the second part that is indoors it is much warmer. I wouldn’t normally recommend a gift shop as they can be a nightmare with children but this one had some really lovely gifts that were reasonably priced, they even had a number of discounted items. The big’un was treated to a mood ring which he has worn every day since and has now memorized what most of the colours mean.
If like us you visit in the morning and you decide not to use on the onsite café then be sure to stop for chips on the sea front for lunch and then continue on to Torquays Dinosaur World for the afternoon.
(Thank you to Visit South Devon and Living Coasts in Torquay for the tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own)