Part zoo and part rescue center for marine and amphibious life, the privately run Aquaworld opened in June 1995 and was Crete’s first aquarium; it was the brainchild of Scotsman John McLaren, who started rescuing injured marine animals in the early 1990s and runs the aquarium with the support of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. This is a children’s wonderland showcasing Crete’s indigenous sea life in 15 vast tanks, combined with a collection of reptiles from all over the world, housed in terrariums and pools. Many of these have been injured or abandoned and the aim behind the center is that all have been nursed back to health and all have a safe home for life. A visit gives the chance to get up close to and handle snakes – even enormous pythons – tortoises and lizards as well as joining in feeding sessions, having a selfie taken with the reptiles and learning about their conservation. The
undoubted star of the show at Aquaworld is Stephania, a blind turtle who has lived in the center since 2000.
Filikis Etirias 7, Chersonisos. Open daily Apr–Oct 10am–6pm.
Admission adults €6, children €4. The aquarium is 25.25 km (15.75 miles) west from Heraklion in the direction of Malia and is best accessed by car along route 90.