Corpus Christi offers a wide variety of oceanside activities, but don’t let them steer you away from a trip to the Texas State Aquarium on on your next trip to the coastal bend. The newly opened Caribbean Journey exhibit—with a 400,000-gallon shark tank, jungle aviary, and 4D interactive theater—recently doubled the size of the aquarium, making it an educational and entertaining adventure you won’t want to miss.

The Texas State Aquarium is not only the largest aquarium in the Lone Star State, but arguably the most “Texan,” financially backed by Whataburger and H-E-B and specifically focused on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The facility is the first in the U.S. to boast that exclusivity, with 15 indoor and outdoor exhibits ranging from familiar flora and fauna found right outside in the bay to exotic creatures from the Yucatan Peninsula.

Flamingos in the jungle aviary, Texas State Aquarium Photograph by Hannah J. Phillips

The attraction is fun for all ages—even guests without kids will marvel at the vibrant (and vocal) flamingoes and the mesmerizing dance of jellyfish waving technicolor tentacles in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Outside, watch two North American otters splash and play together, and be sure to take in the spectacular views of the adjacent USS Lexington or the iconic Harbor Bridge. If your visit falls after lunch at the nearby Pier 99, you may feel a bit like Bo, the corpulent 11-foot American alligator, digesting his latest meal slowly in the sun.

Jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit, Texas State Aquarium Photograph by Hannah J. Phillips

The suggested itineraries featured on the aquarium’s website are a helpful tool for visitors to navigate the facility and program of events during the average 3.5-hour visit. Highlights include the incredible birds of the Wild Flight show, watching divers feed residents of the Caribbean Sea exhibit, and the impressive acrobatics at Dolphin Bay. Arrive early to secure the best views of these magnificent mammals hurling themselves up to twice their body length out of the water.

Beyond entertainment, these programs emphasize the aquarium’s amazing conservation work. Since opening its first exhibit in 1990, the Texas State Aquarium has rescued and rehabilitated countless animals, working to release them back into their natural habitats. You can celebrate one of these stories by cheering for Champ, the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle, currently working on his deep dive at the top of the Caribbean Sea tank. Champ is just one reason you’ll want to take your time in each exhibit—you don’t want to miss roseate spoonbills blending in the crowd of flamingos, or the nap-time spot of the elusive two-toed sloth named Xena.

Regardless of how you plan your visit, you’ll leave grateful for the work the aquarium is doing for native wildlife and for the chance to see such a colorful variety of creatures in one place.

Explore Corpus Christi

Presented by Visit Corpus Christi, Explore Corpus Christi provides an in-depth look at everything the city has to offer. From cuisine to the arts to the beaches, we’ve collected and curated recommendations to ensure a fantastic trip to the Texas Coast. Read more here.