Open Tuesday - Sunday | 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.*
Closed Monday
*Hours subject to change. Please contact us for Special Event & Holiday hours

The Aquarium

The Central Coast Aquarium is a friendly public visitor center that is ideally situated on the beautiful Central Coast just steps away from the beach and boardwalk. Students and vistors get a fun, hands-on experience here that allows them to explore the world of the ocean, beneath the surface. Our small, family-friendly aquarium has a mission of educating and inspiring visitors of all ages about local sea life and marine science by giving them an exciting hands-on experience.

During public hours, visitors can explore our Exhibit Hall’s touch tanks, which are home to dozens of species of marine animals from the commonly known sea stars and rock crabs to the unique gumboot chiton and purple sea urchin.

Additional tanks highlight the diversity of local marine habitats and the fascinating adaptations of sea creatures. Other exhibits include a microscope lab, kids coloring activities and a unique Chumash culture display.

Discover a variety of local species at our Exhibit Hall, and gain a new appreciation for the sea life of Avila Bay. You'll be inspired to become a steward of this crucial marine environment.

Visit us today and unearth what the underwater world has to offer!


  • $8 - General Admission
  • $5 - Seniors
  • FREE - Children ages 2 and under


Our Story

The mission of theCentral Coast Aquariumis to cultivate a community dedicated to ocean stewardship.  The aquarium was born from a passion for the sea and community and is commited to providing opportunities centered around education, engagement and action. Based in Avila Beach, California, the center expands the aquarium visit by offering a fun, hands-on experience that fosters education and encourages stewardship of our oceans.

We invite everyone, including travelers, schools, local families, businesses and seniors, to dive in and connect below the surface.

The aquarium has grown to become a valuable community resource. It serves as the epicenter of knowledge about ecosystems that impact all our lives. At the very core, our organization is led by a mission to educate and inspire everyone through educational programs, outreach and offerings.

Understanding the very unique marine ecosystems is vitally important for several reasons. Not only do the world’s oceans cover about three-quarters of the earth’s surface, they directly affect our atmosphere which means the state of these ecosystems directly affects all of us. Get the opportunity to take the ocean home with you by becoming a steward of this natural resource.

Our motivated staff and volunteers are committed to providing programs that benefit and education everyone. Tours, lectures and events all contribute to the center’s ability to provide enriched programs to schools and students that make a big difference. 

Through hands-on exhibits, outdoor excursions and laboratory lessons, the Central Coast Aquarium aims to impact everyone who walks through our doors, and positively influence their perspective toward this very important part of the natural world.


The Central Coast Aquarium, formerly the Avila Beach Sea Life Center, opened in 1994 when Russell and Carol Kiessig realized their passion for community education and ocean life. Their desire was to create an opportunity for everyone, but especially children, to learn about marine science in an exciting hands-on environment that could jump-start an interest in science and ocean stewardship. The organization has continued to grow and move forward with ideas, research and development of its educational programs. Since it opened, the aquarium has evolved but kept its mission intact. To this day, it continues to further its mission to cultivate a community that is dedicated to ocean stewardship through education, engagement and action by providing forums and other forms of ocean education for schools and the general public.


Just steps away from the beach and boardwalk, the Central Coast Aquarium is located on the children's play park in beautiful Avila Beach California.  Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and only 90 minutes from Santa Barbara, the friendly coastal town enjoys a moderate climate with small-town charm, sandy beaches, public piers and tide pools. Visitors and locals enjoy sport-fishing activities and water sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. There are also three colleges nearby, offering an abundance of educational opportunities and resources to the center and its visitors.

Aquarium Sea Life