OVERALL RATING – 7/10
Entry price: 5/10 – The prices were expensive, but this probably contributed to smaller numbers of people being there. If the outdoor part was open it might have been better value.
Fast track option: No, but no real need for one.
Food: 5/10 –There was a selection of food available, including the Zambezy Bistro (more of a canteen really). Apparently there was also an in-pool bar but I couldn’t find it.
Queues: 8/10 – We arrived at 11am and the queues were minimal. By the time we left at 1.30pm there were larger queues but they were well managed.
Kids: 8/10 – The park isn’t huge but it has its own area for kids to splash around and some smaller slides. They also have a lazy river and water cannons for kids (and me) to play with.
Safety: 8/10 – The waterslides were well managed, with lifeguards covering the splash pools and ensuring waiting times were observed at the top of each slide.
I’d never been to Latvia, so when I had the opportunity to visit Riga the first thing I did was look for a waterpark. Livu Akvapark was the first thing that appeared in my search results, and according to my findings it was worth a visit…interestingly I’ve never found one that hasn’t sounded like it was worth a visit! Located just outside of Riga; it was surprisingly easy to find. After reading the website I’d intended to get the train or bus, but lacked the confidence to know where to get off. Instead I got a taxi, which took about 15 minute from the Old Town and cost around 13 euros. When I arrived I realised how obvious it was and I’d recommend getting a bus (number 7021 or 7023) and getting off at Leilupe. The bus costs about 2 euros.
Prior to visiting Livu Akvapark I’d tried to contact them numerous times to clarify how to get there and whether I could use my GoPro on the slides. Unfortunately they didn’t respond, but I brought the camera along anyway. When we arrived at the park, I was pleasantly surprised to see how modern and clean it was. I’m not totally sure what I was expecting but it was very similar to other waterparks that I’ve visited. The park opens at 11am at the weekend and midday during the week, and costs 25 euros for 4 hours (adults), 18 euros for 4 hours (6-14 years old). Up-to-date prices can be found here: Prices
The staff at the park (and in Latvia in general) are friendly and speak excellent English, so we had no trouble buying our tickets and making our way through to the changing room. You aren’t allowed to wear outdoor footwear in the changing room, so there’s a separate changing room to take your shoes and socks off just after the entrance gate. Do not…I repeat DO NOT start taking your clothes off here. Splash King was slightly confused and thought it was some sort of unisex open changing area. Luckily I’m not yet of the age where I take my trousers and underwear off before I’ve taken my shoes off…so no-one had to suffer seeing me prop my leg up on a bench whilst naked to take my shoes off. As with a lot of European waterparks you are given a wristband that doubles as a locker key and credit facility for purchasing food and drink in the park. Unlike some parks you don’t need to preload the card with money, and instead you pay on your way out. The changing areas have private cubicles and there are plenty of lockers to go around. You simply lock them with your wristband and make your way upstairs into the waterpark.
As I had only seen a few signs suggesting that you couldn’t take cameras into the park I decided to chance my luck with the GoPro…however a lifeguard was onto me quicker than a tramp on chips. The very moment I walked into the swimming area a lifeguard was saying something to me in Latvian, then German, then English. They have their own photographers in the park to take pictures, which can be purchased for around 3 euros each when you leave. Unfortunately for me I wanted to take videos of myself actually on the slides…but there was no room for maneuver. My initial thought was to get on the closest slide I could find, so I threw myself down it and found it was a very tame, but enjoyable, dark tube slide. I landed in a splash pool below surrounded by other tubes that people appeared to be sliding down. It was at this point that I realised that the park was some sort of labyrinth (minus David Bowie’s pouch) and actually finding your way to the top of the slides was quite difficult. Most of the slides require a tube to ride on, and you have to use the correct colour tube for each slide. Initially this seemed a bit pedantic, but I soon realised that it helped to ensure a steady flow of traffic to the slides and stopped people from pushing into the queue.
The second slide was a two-person tube slide that is totally in the dark. After flying down it at breakneck speed, I came out of the other end with my heart racing like when you’ve decided to run home after a few beers (seemed a good idea at the time didn’t it?). It was at this point that I noticed two slides tucked away, and they had some sort of scoreboards at the end. As I didn’t have my contact lenses in I couldn’t really read what it said but I knew I wanted to have a go. I ran up the stairs to find two slides…neither with a queue…and felt that it was my lucky day. The lifeguard gave me a briefing about correct slide posture (he obviously didn’t recognise the world-leading expert on waterslides) and let me get on my way. After watching my splash companion tamely begin her descent I did my usual…like an Olympic gymnast on the bar I swung myself down the slide and immediately began a steep descending curve into hell. I was flying and for a brief moment I thought I was in the train station with Dumbledore…that’s when I realised that I’d produced enough power to destroy a horcrux! My back was being torn to pieces by the bumps in the slide and when I came out at the bottom I smashed my head and face on both sides of the slide and realised I was actually back to front. I have no idea how I’d turned around in the slide but it had happened…luckily I didn’t snap the Elder Wand. I looked around for my splash companion and when my hearing returned I realised there was a screeching noise coming from the other slide. A few seconds later she emerged, looking like Dobbie on meth, with pure anger in her eyes…apparently the sign I couldn’t read was a scoreboard of fastest times and these slides were called Extreme. Not great for someone who isn’t a huge fan of waterparks and swimming. It was at this point that I had to muster up some sort of words to make the situation better…all I could manage was a quiet “Sorry”. Little did she know that I was apologising for not being sorry – who in their right mind wouldn’t enjoy a waterslide?!
In total there were 9 slides, with 8 open. There are more slides outside but they’re only open during the summer months. They were all good fun and there were plenty of slides that you could ride with friends. The queues throughout the day were minimal, and the Latvian people understand the very British concept of queueing. It’s possibly the first European country I’ve been to that doesn’t find the concept ludicrous. The whole park was very clean and well-staffed with lifeguards. There’s also a Jacuzzi section, although it’d be nice if it could be separated from the rest of the park so that people can get some relaxation without having to pay extra to go into a spa. The photographers were papping people all day but when we came to leave we found a selection of pretty awful photographs. They had a talent for making every person look like they’d recently murdered someone and that they were planning the next gruesome crime. It’s probably why people wrongly believe that Latvian people are just like the bad guys from Taken. It’s a shame really because I’d have liked to have taken some photos myself, in addition to the videos.
Overall I would recommend visiting Livu Akvaparks; the price is a little bit on the expensive side but due to the small queues it’s very easy to get on lots of slides without having to wait around all day. The park is mainly indoor so you can visit all year. The kids section is impressive and isn’t dissimilar to Cariba Creek at Alton Towers. I’ve had to knock some marks of for the entry price, and a few more off for being unable to take my camera in…or even being responded to before I arrived…but as usual…I’d go again!