Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, which is South Carolina’s most visited attraction, has a little something for everyone enchanted by the sea. It is an ideal excursion for guests of Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort, a home away from home created with the families in mind.
Unlike Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow and Toto, you don’t have to worry about lions, tigers and bears – oh my – at Ripley’s Aquarium.
Here, there are a myriad of creatures from the sea that swim, slide and find other ways to propel through replicas of their ocean habitats at this spectacular attraction.
The aquarium, featuring eight distinctive areas that take you underneath the ocean or behind the scenes, has 14 million gallons of water in its extraordinary exhibits.
There is more than 40 miles of pipe within the building in which the water travels. The Shark Lagoon, for example, has 750,000 gallons of water. It is here, in an exhibit known as Dangerous Reef, that visitors come face-to-face with the most notorious inhabitants of the ocean – sharks, lots of them.
By far one of Dangerous Reef’s biggest stars is the sand tiger shark. Its intimidating appearance, especially its vicious teeth, is a shocking yet mystifying example of nature’s diversity in the sea.
Other citizens of Dangerous Reef include green sea turtles, green moray eels, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks and tarpons. The latter are bony fish, ancient residents of the sea, that are found around the world, including the eastern Atlantic coast from Senegal to South Angola and the western Atlantic coast from Virginia to Brazil.
Unlike the treacherous and peculiar oceanic life seen in Dangerous Reef, the Rainbow Rock exhibit is home to some of the sea’s most colorful and cool fish.
Rainbow Rock boasts the beauty of the Indo-Pacific. Beautiful fish painted permanently in glorious hues are here.
The sunny, yellow pouty lips of the clown triggerfish with its geometric coloring of white and neon green spots and the rest of its art deco look is certainly eye candy for lovers of fish dwelling in the depths of blue oceans.
Yet, not to be undone, there are also other rainbow children just as beautiful swimming in Rainbow Rock. The clownfish, Moorish idol (with its bold black, white and neon yellow striping), the regal blue tang and the foxface rabbitfish are celebrities too.
Thousands of fish are here to delight any visitor with undeniable beauty and grace, as they swim around seemingly knowing they are royalty in the sea.
Other displays at Ripley’s Aquarium include Ray Bay (an exhibit of more than 100 stingrays), Rio Amazon (where carnivorous and herbivorous piranhas call home) and Friendship Flats, shallow lagoons that allow visitors to interact with stingrays gliding along by actually reaching out and touching them.
Ripley’s Aquarium, with all its varied attractions, arguably keeps visitors of all ages entertained with the mystery and splendor
existing in oceans around the world.
If you go:
What: Ripley’s Aquarium
Where: 1110 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29577
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday (open year-around)
(Online) Cost: Adults, $19.99; Children (ages 6-11), $12.99; Children (ages 2-5), $4.99
Information: Call (843) 916-0888 or (800)-734-8888. You can also visit http://www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach/
Directions from Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort: Start out going southwest on South Ocean Boulevard/S.C. 73 toward 24th Ave. S. Take the second right onto 25th Ave. S. Take the second right onto South Kings Highway/U.S. 17 Business. Turn left onto 21st Ave. N. Turn left onto 29th Ave. N. Take the first left. Turn right onto Loop Road.