8 Reasons We Love the Waikiki Aquarium

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Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > 8 Reasons We Love the Waikiki Aquarium

Most Hawaii vacationers look forward to spending time in the water – whether they want to relax on the beach, snorkel along the shoreline, or even try surfing. But what happens when you want to enjoy Hawaii’s marine life from the comfort of land? You head to the Waikiki Aquarium. 

This is a fantastic place that many visitors overlook. After all, your vacation plans may be full of unique sights, time on the beach, and lots of new adventures. But you should also include time to wind down, get out of the sun and heat, and learn more about the amazing ecosystem around you. 

That’s why we love visiting the Waikiki Aquarium. It’s simple and small, but incredibly thorough and engaging. We love this great Honolulu attraction for many reasons, and we think you should check it out the next time you’re on the island. 

Ahead, we’re sharing the top 8 reasons why we believe your next Hawaii vacation should include a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium!

What is the Waikiki Aquarium?

The Waikiki Aquarium is an educational and engaging attraction located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has nearly 500 species of animals on display, with 13 indoor and outdoor display areas. This is where visitors and residents alike can learn about Hawaii’s ocean life, from colorful coral to the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. 

8 Reasons to Visit the Waikiki Aquarium

Ready to learn all about this “hidden gem” in Waikiki? Here are our top 8 reasons why we love visiting the Waikiki Aquarium. 

1. It’s The Second Oldest Aquarium in the United States

Anyone who appreciates a bit of history will love visiting the Waikiki Aquarium. Established in 1904, this is the second oldest public aquarium still operating in America. The oldest is the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit. 

At the time of its opening, the Waikiki Aquarium was considered a state-of-the-art attraction. While it’s been well-updated over the years, its small size and historic roots do make it feel a bit dated. 

To us, that’s just part of the charm. This isn’t going to be a glistening, world-class experience. Instead, it’s fun, local, and quiet – perfect for a relaxed vacation to Hawaii. 

2. See the Hawaiian State Fish (And Learn How to Say its Name)

Say it with us now… humuhumunukunukuāpua‘a. It’s Hawaii’s official state fish. It’s hard to say but easy to spot, especially after you observe it at the Waikiki Aquarium. This reef triggerfish is distinguished by its bright color pattern, angular body, and snout-like mouth. 

Once you see it at the aquarium, you’ll be better able to recognize it in the wild. That’s why we love visiting the Aquarium – it’s like an introduction to the many fish you’ll want to see while snorkeling. Learn about them here, then hit the water to truly appreciate their beauty. 

3. The Waikiki Aquarium is a Budget-Friendly Attraction

Hawaii can feel like a pricey place to visit, but a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium will be a welcome reprieve from $40+ attraction tickets and exorbitant parking fees. 

Adult tickets are $12 each, while kids and seniors are $5. The Waikiki Aquarium also has kamaaina rates, allowing residents to check out the exhibits at a discounted cost. 

There is also limited free parking in front of the aquarium and metered street parking nearby. 

Looking for more activities on Oahu that are around $10 or less? Check out our fun guide to Hawaii on a budget!

4. It’s Great for Kids

While I enjoy aquariums, my young kids are obsessed with them. And they certainly don’t mind that the Waikiki Aquarium is humble and small. Its small size and personable staff make the experience even more magical for them. 

This is an especially good attraction for kids (or anyone) who won’t be snorkeling in Hawaii, since it gives them a chance to see what the waters here look like under the surface. And, as we mentioned, if you are snorkeling in Hawaii, you’ll be able to learn about the amazing marine life you’ll see. 

Plus, its low-cost kids ticket means you won’t have any cost-related regrets after bringing the family here. 

5. It Doesn’t Require Much Time

There’s a lot to see and do on Oahu. And while the Waikiki Aquarium is a great break from the heat (or rain), you’ve got other things you want to experience too. 

We’re happy to share that you can fully enjoy the Waikiki Aquarium in an hour or so. Sure, if your kids are really into the exhibits or you sit and observe the many species, you could stay longer, but it’s not a huge place that will take a full vacation day. 

So stop by, enjoy the air conditioning and great exhibits, and then head on to your next adventure. 

6. The Waikiki Aquarium is Close to Other Great Attractions

Looking to spend a day off the beach but don’t want to travel all over the island? The area around the Waikiki Aquarium is excellent for sightseeing and adventures. Here are some of the things you can do within a few minutes of the aquarium:

7. Learn About Local Plantlife

The Waikiki Aquarium has a beautiful oceanfront setting, and its outdoor area is full of beautiful plant life. See a native Ohia Lehua tree, a range of ti leaves, and white hibiscus. 

The chance to learn about plants and flowers adds to the overall experience at the aquarium and allows you to slow down and really enjoy its outdoor area. 

8. Support Research and Conservation

The University of Hawaii runs the aquarium’s laboratory, and it’s here that they conduct important research about Hawaii’s ecosystem. The Aquarium is committed to conservation and wildlife rescue. 

The Waikiki Aquarium also partners with zoos worldwide to expand research and outreach. They host beach clean-up days, sunscreen trade-ins, and guest lecturers. 

Even if you don’t see much of the aquarium’s research and conservation efforts directly, your time here will enrich your understanding of Hawaii’s ecosystem and support the aquarium’s causes. 

Where to Find the Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium entrance

Hawaii’s oldest aquarium is located at 2777 Kalakaua Avenue. You’ll find it right by the ocean in Kapi‘olani Park. It’s minutes away from much of Waikiki and has a small parking lot. 

What to Know Before Visiting

Ready to explore the Waikiki Aquarium? We think you’ll have a great time as long as you come in with the right expectations. 

Be prepared for a short visit with a great staff, and be sure to spend time learning about the various marine life. 

Not all exhibits are always open, and hours may change. Call the aquarium at (808) 923-9741 to confirm the day’s hours or open exhibits. 

Waikiki Aquarium VS. Sea Life Park

The Waikiki Aquarium isn’t the only aquarium on Oahu. There is also Sea Life Park, which operates more as a theme-park-style attraction, complete with a penguin habitat, a dolphin show, shark feedings, and sea lion presentations. 

Sea Life Park also has other activities for an additional charge, like the chance to swim with dolphins, play with sea lions, and snorkel in their lagoon. Plus, they have an evening luau. 

Entrance to Sea Life Park costs about three times as much as the Waikiki Aquarium (before extra-cost experiences), but your kids may have three times as much fun. However, Sea Life Park is also a bigger excursion, as it’s located in Waimanalo and takes more time to fully enjoy (and feel like you got your money’s worth). 

So, if you’re looking for a really fulfilling – yet somewhat busy – attraction that feels like it’s offering an elevated experience, Sea Life Park might be perfect for you. 

If you want a simple outing near Waikiki that doesn’t take much time, money, or energy then the Waikiki Aquarium is the place to go. 

Great Local Attractions

We hope that during your time in Hawaii, you explore places beyond the typical beach parks and glistening tourist attractions. Hawaii has so many hidden gems and charming museums, and we’d love to help you plan your visits to them. 
Contact Hawaii Aloha Travel to learn more about our vacation planning services and how we can help you enjoy a great getaway full of unique adventures.

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