It may seem odd to visit an aquarium in Hawaii — after all, the ocean and its creatures are RIGHT THERE! However the Waikiki Aquarium gives you a better view and far more information than you’d get on your own. It’s easy to get to from Waikiki Beach, inexpensive, and a great option for rainy days, when you need to stay out of the sun, or while waiting for your return flight. If you’re traveling with children, it is especially good entertainment. They’ll recognize the real fish from animated movies and learn about marine biology, all for six dollars or less. (That’s the admission price — the trip through the gift shop will add more.)
The aquarium first opened in 1904 and is the third oldest aquarium in the United States. At first, it was a commercial venture but in 1912 the property was returned to the Territory of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii took over operations of the aquarium and its marine biology laboratory. A major renovation of the facility and its programs began in 1975 with a focus not just on display but also public education. One of its newest projects is the jellyfish gallery – my granddaughter’s favorite on her recent visit. My daughter liked deep sea creatures and the many kinds of coral.
The Waikiki Aquarium is located along the beach in Kapiolani Park. From Waikiki Beach, face Diamond Head and start walking. It’s within walking distance from most hotels, or you can take the bus (Route 2) or the Trolley (Green Line). The aquarium is open 9 – 4:30 pm daily (it closes early sometimes for concerts). The general admission price is nine dollars. For children, there are three rates: ages 13-17 are $6, 5-12 are $2 and 4 and under are free if accompanied by an adult. My daughter and grand daughter really enjoyed the free audio tour that comes with each admission.
If you have a membership to your local zoo or aquarium, you may be able to pay half price in Hawaii – check the list of reciprocal institutions on the Waikiki Aquarium website. Even without a discount, it’s a great addition to your Hawaii vacation.