Living in California and within 30 minutes from the coast, our family has always been fascinated by the ocean and animal life. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is actually one of those locations that all 3 of my kids have visited as part of their science curriculum in school. When we were in Oahu, we were excited to experience the Waikiki Aquarium during our stay and see the marine life specific to the area without snorkeling!
Just a short drive from our hotel and the city of Honolulu, the Aquarium, founded in 1904, is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States. A part of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa since 1919, it is located next to a living reef on the Waikiki shoreline. Waikiki Aquarium exhibits focus on the diversity of aquatic, shoreline and coral reef habitats and living communities of Hawai`i and the tropical Pacific. Among the highlights:
–Corals Are Alive! interactive exhibits showcasing corals, their biology and conservation
–SeaVisions Theatre shows videos that illustrate shoreline conservation and how you can be a responsible reef visitor
–South Pacific Marine Communities features South Pacific habitats and species, including colorful reef corals and fishes, giant clams, groupers and snappers and intriguing partnerships
such as anemonefishes and their host sea anemones
— Hawaiian Marine Communities recreates Hawaiian habitats from wave-swept surge zone to deep reef slopes, and from young to ancient reefs; celebrates distinctive reef life, including the longnose butterflyfish
–Ocean Drifters Gallery features a 1,000-gallon moon jelly tank and a seasonally changing jelly wall that may contain whitespotted jellies, blue blubbers, sea nettles, box jellies and ctenophores
— Hunters on the Reef 35,000-gallon exhibit is home to Hawaiian sharks and jacks; shark interpretive panels introduce shark biology, research, conservation and safety. New Spyball camera provides up close shark encounters in real time on a television screen.
Our Take: Comparative to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Maui Ocean Center that we’ve been to, this aquarium is small. Though the size is to the benefit to families who want the aquarium experience, the exposure to the marine life up close and personal, but not taking an entire day to do so. All having grown up on Disney’s Finding Nemo, the kids were most thrilled by the anenome and coral reef life. The giant clams outdoors were amazing both in sight and learning about the research, and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal was interesting to watch and sad at the same time.
The kids are animal lovers and knowing that something they can see and watch at this moment can soon be extinct is mind-boggling. Having not too much time/luck with snorkeling this trip, dad narrated the aquarium tour with what he has seen beneath the waters around Hawaii in his experience.
There was a small touch pool with some sea snails (my youngest LOVES regular snails) and that was her highlight of it tickling her palm. In about an hour you can tour the location and really get a feel for what is swimming with us while we’re out in the waters of Oahu.
Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily (except Honolulu Marathon Sunday and Christmas Day), admission is so family friendly at $9 for visitors; $6 for local residents, active duty military with ID,students with ID and senior citizens; $4 for youths ages 13-17 and persons with disabilities; $2 for juniors ages 5 – 12; and free for children 4 and under and Friends of Waikiki Aquarium members.
Our tickets were hosted, all opinions are our own.