Waikiki Aquarium in Oahu? Originally it was the “Honolulu Aquarium” but since 1955 the name has been “Waikiki Aquarium”. Okay, the Aquarium is no Monterey Bay or Sea World so I won’t compare. The Waikiki Aquarium is what it is…very, very small. You can probably see everything in under an hour. That being said, there are some nice exhibits and the Aquarium IS in Waikiki!
Small Kine History
Waikiki Aquarium was founded in 1904 and is the second oldest aquarium in the US. James Castle contributed the land while Charles & Anne Cook donated the funds for the construction. When it first opened, some considered its collection of fishes the finest in the world. The Aquarium began as a private organization but is now administered by the University of Hawaii. The facility celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2014.
Here are some of the exhibits that my five-year-old son, Gabriel, enjoyed on our visit. I don’t know if the gift shop counts as an exhibit but my son spent a long time contemplating his purchases.
Edge of the Reef
This 7,500 gallon outdoor exhibit recreates the habitat found on Hawaiian shorelines. If you went snorkeling, in Hanauma Bay, you might see these same fish. Get up close and personal with the yellow tang, red pencil urchins and porcupine pufferfish among others. You can witness the feeding frenzy at meal times.
Barrier Reef Exhibit
This huge 5,500 gallon tank contains many species of tropical fish, coral and giant clams (over 100 different species!). The colorful fish and coral were stunning and kept my son engaged for almost 15 minutes (long time for him!). The giant clams are likely the oldest in the world (in captivity).
Hunters on the Reef Exhibit
My son, Gabriel, saw a reef shark so he was totally into this exhibit. Gab recently watched Jaws (1975) and plays the iPad games Jaws and Jaws Revenge and is now shark crazy! The blacktip reef sharks, jacks and groupers make up the exhibit. They just looked like big, dull, ugly fish to me!
Admission was free, when we went, because of the Mauka to Makai Expo. There was free parking, at Waikiki Elementary, with complimentary shuttle service. At the expo, there were hula dancers, a puppet show, informational booths, food booths, games, prizes and fun photos.
Regular admission is $12/adults, $5/kids & kids under 3 are FREE (Kamaaina $8). There is a small gift shop and a vending machine with drinks. There is no food sold so bring your own snacks. Daily hours are 9:00am to 4:30pm.
Parking, Parking, Parking
Yes, parking is a very important factor when I go anywhere! There are only like 10 parking stalls, in front of the Aquarium, so get there early or find metered parking. There is also paid parking at the zoo (only a short walk).
Oh, I almost forgot! Anytime your in Waikiki, Leonard’s Bakery is a must stop in nearby Kamaiki. Home of the original malasada, these golden brown, Portuguese style donuts, have brought smiles to thousands of locals and tourists since 1952.