Add SeaWorld at Abu Dhabi to your itinerary and take on an oceanic expedition with eight immersive realms 

We were at the extravagant opening of SeaWorld at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi — one of the largest marine theme parks in the Middle East and the first of its kind outside the USA...
Inside SeaWorld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Inside SeaWorld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

It was in 2006 when the development of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi as a multi-purpose tourist attraction was initiated. Cut to 2023, the strategically dredged island is now all ready to provide a seamless vacation experience. You have your adventure theme parks like Ferrari World which houses the world’s fastest roller coaster and the Warner Bros indoor amusement park where you can heal your inner child. You also have the architectural marvel, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where you can soak in local culture and not to forget, the Yas Marina Circuit, one of the most advanced motorsports venues, symbolic of Abu Dhabi's urban configurations.

The latest entry into this list of upscale tourist charms is SeaWorld, one of the world’s largest and most expansive marine aquariums, now a living and breathing part of the UAE. We visited this marine haven during its inauguration back in May and the memo given out was simple — expect to interact with over 1,00,000 under-and-over-water marine animals, spread across eight distinct zones! Calling the experience overwhelming would be an understatement.

Our stay with respect to the grand inauguration was organised at W Abu Dhabi which is about 15 minutes away from the airport. The five-star property hits the location jackpot as it is housed in the heart of Yas Marina Circuit, where the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix is held. Our room came with a breathtaking view of the race track and it was nothing short of front-row seats of the glitz and the glam.

Day 1 started on an educational note. Instead of visiting the sprawling aquarium on the first day itself, we decided to stop by Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue, an equally integral part of the SeaWorld experience. It’s a space where you can understand the research, rehabilitation and rescue plans that are in place for preserving marine life. This centre piques curiosity about what one can expect from the theme park. Fortunately for us, that curiosity was satisfied and how on Day 2!

As we reached the marine-themed park and entered through the automated doors, the phrase, ‘One Ocean,’ in English and Arabic beamed in front of us and that set the tone for the rest of the day. Together, we embarked on a journey to explore the ocean’s vastness through eight realms namely Abu Dhabi Ocean, Micro Ocean, Endless Ocean, Tropical Ocean, Rocky Point, Arctic Ocean and Antarctic Ocean.

<em>Inside Abu Dhabi realm</em>
Inside Abu Dhabi realm

For us, the adventure started at the Abu Dhabi Ocean which gave us a greater insight into the Gulf region’s marine life. The realm features four touch pools where you can engage with rays, sharks and invertebrates. Even though some of us were a bit scared, with some guidance, we got to gently brush sea cucumbers in their natural habitat. As we moved further into the Abu Dhabi Ocean realm, we also witnessed a mermaid show and instantly thought of Disney’s Ariel. This mesmerising experience only added to our excitement for exploring the other realms and we almost power-walked to the heart of SeaWorld, the One Ocean realm.

<em>Ocean connects us all</em>
Ocean connects us all

Trust us, when you reach this zone, you will need a minute or two to truly soak in all that is happening around you. This realm features a beaming globe, symbolically representing how we are connected to the ocean and how the ocean connects us all. In the backdrop, the 360-degree screen plays high-resolution footage from everything above and below the water, all exclusively shot for SeaWorld. The soothing background music makes you feel like a first-time diver with an epiphany that the ocean can never really be fully explored and mapped; it is packed with limitless surprises.

Next, you have Endless Ocean where you can truly dwell in the beauty and diversity of the ocean. You can stand across the Observation Deck, a massive circular window-shaped space and watch over 68,000 animals such as rays, eels and cuttlefish gracefully swim across your eyes.

<em>A Glimpse of Tropical Point</em>
A Glimpse of Tropical Point

While there is a lot to witness in this realm, if you are running short of time as we did, you can take a little detour and transport yourself to USA’s coastal Pacific Northwest with Rocky Point. Expect barking sea lions and roaring harbour seals in this realm.

Walk further and you will find yourself in Tropical Point, one of the most exciting realms thanks to the flamboyant flamingos and majestic dolphins. Take your sweet time observing these two species in their natural habitat and also watch out for some tropical birds because they are truly as beautiful as it gets.

Once you are satisfied with these warm waters, you will need to reach out for your hoodie and walk all the way to the Polar Ocean. This realm features the Arctic in the North Pole reigned by sea otters, puffins, murres and walruses and Antarctica towards the South led by penguins and sea stars.

<em>Kids love the MicroOcean</em>
Kids love the MicroOcean

Even though the weather conditions are extreme inside these realms, your heart quickly warms up when you watch your very first otter play with ice. And if that is not enough, then large pinniped walruses gliding over your head and flaunting their tusks in the most nonchalant manner would definitely make you stay a little longer. At least it did for us.

After adoring the walruses in their natural element, you can check out one of the last realms, the Micro Ocean. This is actually where all the fun activities are hosted and you can really reconnect with your inner child with Jelly Plunge, Turtle Twist and Eel Racer rides. We suggest you stop by this zone first and get your Instagram-worthy boomerangs out of the way with Krill Dude and Sea Star, two adorable costumed characters that roam in this zone. And once you are done exploring all the realms, you can walk back to One Ocean one last time and soak in all of it, all over again.

Things to check out at SeaWorld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

Dining: There are 17 dining options spread across the eight realms where you can rejuvenate and replenish ahead or after your oceanic expedition.  

Shopping: As you explore the theme parks, you can stop by one of the 13 retail outlets for great value souvenirs like mugs, fridge magnets, key chains, bag tags and more.

Rides & Adventures: Experience zero-gravity flips with Manta Coaster and catch a glimpse of the fascinating life of the Ray Reef. You can also get your heartbeat racing with Jelly Plunge ride as it pulses, slings and rises vertically.

Animal Experiences: One of the most adorable experiences you will come across is the dolphin presentations where these beloved mammals move to the tunes of in-house music. Also, watch out for a showcase by the playful sea lions at the Rocky Point Amphitheater.

INR 8,000/per person onwards. At SeaWorld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Twitter: @Muskankhullar03

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