The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

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Have you ever gone diving with sharks. . .in the desert? Yeah, me neither, but you can–at the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. You can also watch them from behind the safety of acrylic glass windows, which is more my speed. I hadn’t been to the Shark Reef in almost ten years, so during my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I decided it was time to revisit this family-friendly attraction on the south Strip.

Admission to the Shark Reef will set you back $18. If you live in a city that has a good quality aquarium, you probably won’t feel the need to visit, but if, like me, you rarely get to see exotic ocean creatures, it’s worth it. Your $18 will certainly last longer than it will in the casino. Sure, it’s popular with families with kids, but you don’t have to have children to appreciate it.

Shark Reef Sign

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

What kind of sharks will you see here? According to their website, they have Sandtiger, Sandbar and White Tip Reef Sharks. I couldn’t tell you which was which. There are no Great Whites, thank God. (I’m still freaked out by Jaws, some thirty-odd years later. Thanks for the nightmares, Peter Benchley.)

Shark Sign

There is an educational component to the Shark Reef

The interesting thing that you will discover if you read the signs posted throughout the exhibit is that far more sharks are killed every year by humans than humans are by sharks (an estimated 100 million sharks vs. a handful of humans). Of course, that doesn’t make sharks any less terrifying one-on-one. If you’re braver–and richer–than I am and dive certified, you can actually go diving with the sharks here at the Shark Reef for $650. (Or you could pay for a week in a hotel room for the same price. Your choice.)



Of course, they have more than sharks at the Shark Reef. There are around 2,000 animals in the exhibit. This includes jellyfish, piranha, sea turtles, stingrays, a golden crocodile, a kimodo dragon, and a burmese python that scared me more than the sharks did.

Golden Crocodile

Looks like he's been flossing

Kimodo Dragon

Kimodo Dragon

There’s even a petting zoo of sorts. If you’re into petting sea life.

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

Hands-on display

The best part of the reef is the underwater tunnel, where you can see the various fish and sharks swimming on either side of you as well as above. It’s very cool.

Shark Tunnel

Shark Tunnel

The thing about sharks is that they’re constantly in motion. I am not a skilled enough photographer to be able to take great photographs of objects in motion; I always wind up with nothing but a blur. So instead, I shot some video of the sharks, which you can see in the video below.

That’s about as close to a shark as I ever want to get.

Where: Mandalay Bay (at the back of the property, near the convention center)

When: 10:00AM – 8:00PM Sunday – Thursday and 10:00AM – 10:00PM Friday and Saturday.

Credit: The music in this video is by J. Lang and is called “Garden of the Forking”. Good stuff. I found it under Creative Commons at

6 thoughts on “The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

  1. Cella

    Your pictures came out nicer than mine, and your video is just fine.

    I visited Shark Reef earlier this month with my sis, BIL and 1yo nephew. He really liked the plexiglass floor in the Shipwreck area. That whole Shipwreck area is very cool. The jar o’jellyfish was also quite impressive.

    We also hit Bass Pro Shop (Outdoor World’s) big tank in their main hall, but nephew was more interested in riding the escalator. We did manage to interest him in the aquarium in the lobby of the Silverton. (That complex is a blog post in itself!)

  2. Gray

    The shipwreck area IS wicked cool, Celia! In fact, I recall a little boy who was very fascinated with the plexiglass floor while I was there, too. I have not been to the Silverton yet. I probably need to do that one of these days….

  3. Cella

    What’s also very nice about Shark Reef, particularly if you’re solo traveling, is that you can take all the time you want to study each area and just plain watch the fish. I chatted a while with one of the naturalists during a particularly quiet time in the touch pool area.

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