Cretaquarium first opened its doors to the public in December 2005. It has recently undergone extensive renovation, involving the addition of new tanks, species, educational programmes and innovative services.
As one of Europe’s largest aquariums, Cretaquarium offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the magnificent Mediterranean sea world. From large predator sharks to microscopic sea horses and spectacular jellyfish, the diversity of marine life is showcased against a backdrop of Cretan underwater seascapes, such as the rocks at Matala (South Crete) and the seabed at Vai (Southeast Crete).
Walking the Aquarium Visitors’ Route
The Mediterranean seascape comes to life in 61 different tanks varying in size from 125 to 900,000 liters’ of sea water, totaling 1.7 million liters’ in all. There are one hundred observation points for visitors to admire approximately 2,500 Mediterranean and tropical organisms. A full tour taking in all exhibits and species lasts about 2 hours.
On the aquarium visitors’ route, state of the art AV systems and innovative interactive devices such as touch screen info points, video projectors, a periscope, microscopes and stereoscopes for observing microscopic creatures add to the experience, providing supplementary information and helping to create a comprehensive view of how the Mediterranean marine ecosystem functions and is structured.
Cretaquarium offers an individual and group audioguide system in 9 languages. Small hand-held devices that operate as simply as a mobile phone add to and enrich your visit with explanations, comments and popularized information you can listen to at your own place and as you prefer, simply by dialing the tank number.
It is also possible to book individually guided tours in Greek, English or French. Tours in further languages can also be arranged if advance notification is given.
Education – Promoting Awareness
As part of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Cretaquarium popularizes and disseminates scientific knowledge about the marine world, with special emphasis on the Mediterranean and the seas around Greece.
To this end, four educational programmes have been designed and implemented, focusing on:
- Ocean Plankton
- Diversity and Adaptability
- Oceans in Constant Motion
- Evolution and Comparison of Marine Species
The programmes are adapted according to level and curriculum. In groups of around 20, primary and secondary school pupils learn about the key phenomena in marine physics and biology via hands-on, innovative teaching methods. In making use of its facilities to preserve living marine species, the aquarium offers pupils the opportunity to study them in live laboratory conditions, using stereoscopes and microscopes, as well as to carry out focused observation in larger tanks on the visitors’ route, with assistance from Aquarium staff.
If an entire school wishes to make an ordinary group visit, the specialist staff on the visitors’ route is there to answer any questions in detail.
Cretaquarium also offers schools in remote areas the chance to make a distance visit via webcam. Once arrangements regarding technical details have been made with Cretaquarium staff, the virtual tour is held live, using interactive communication. Visitors can act as they would at the aquarium, asking questions and focusing on what interests them most.
Virtual Reality at CRETAquarium!
The new unique virtual reality experience in the specially designed hall of the Cretaquarium is a fact!
Dive into the miracle and the magic of the sea, facing some of the largest and most exciting marine life/organisms of the ocean. Dare to come face to face with a 24-meter whale while she is staring at you from a close distance. See the manta ray guiding a huge flock of phosphorescent jellyfish through a coral reef. Explore the iridescent lightning Abyss with a flashlight discovering some of the strangest and scariest fish living in the depths of the ocean. Change your point of view and admire the blue that surrounds you!
Functions and Activities
The unique environment here at Cretaquarium provides the perfect venue for any social function you may wish to organize, for adults and children alike.
Our specially designed 130-seat function room is equipped with state-of-the-art AV equipment and has an amazing aquarium as a backdrop on one wall. The room can be used to hold conferences, meetings, exhibitions, lectures and social functions.
During normal daily opening hours the room is used to show documentaries on marine ecosystems. Visitors can also see an innovative film produced by Cretaqarium, entitled "Karagiozis, the Mermaid and the Earth’s Message", an animation based on traditional shadow theatre.
After your Tour
On the aquarium premises you’ll also find our snack bar, café and restaurant, as well as the Aqua Shop gift shop, offering souvenirs, educational toys and clever gift ideas inspired by the marine environment and the need to protect the environment.
There is a long sandy beach in front of the aquarium, and several other beaches further east.
The Cretaquarium building complex is situated in the grounds of the former American Base at Gournes, 14km from the city of Heraklion and NikosKazantzakisInternationalAirport. It lies 20km from the Minoan palace of Knossos, close to Crete’s internationally renowned tourist resorts at Hersonissos, Malia, Stalida, Elounda, Gouves etc.
Visitors coming by car or motorcycle can get to Cretaquarium by following the special brown signs posted at several points on the island road network. Three large car parks are available for visitor use.
Those opting for interurban bus or tourist coach will have no difficulty in finding the appropriate service, since frequent services link Cretaquarium to both Heraklion and the Hersonissos – Malia area.
Opening Season and Times
Cretaquarium is open all year round, including all public holidays.
The Kartaquarium Membership Card
The Kartaquarium membership card offers holders unlimited access to the aquarium for a full calendar year, along with a package of special bonuses and privileges.
Opening season: 365 days (all year round)
Number of marine species: 200
Litres of seawater in tanks: 1,700,000
Car parks: 3, totaling 300 bays
Toilets, baby changing stations, disabled toilets: 3
- from Heraklion 14 km
- from Knossos 20 km
- from Hersonissos 12 km
- from Malia 20 km
- from Agios Nikolaos 51 km
- from Rethymnon 92 km
- from Chania 148 km
Multipurpose room holds: 130 people
Address: Former US base of Gournes, Hersonissos 715 00, Crete
Phone: (+30) 2810 337-788