Live Hawaii

Waikiki Aquarium, Oahu – Fish, Coral, Clams, Fun!

waikiki aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium Postcard Circa 1910

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 reefEdge 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

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

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!

Lucky Us!

lucky us

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.

Important Info

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).

Leonard’s Bakery

leonards malasadas

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.

Hiking Manoa Falls – A Muddy Adventure

manoa falls
manoa falls mapHiking Manoa Falls? A muddy adventure! Well…there are no spectacular waterfalls, on Oahu, compared with the other islands. One exception is Sacred Falls which has an 1100 foot drop but unfortunately is no longer accessible (the state closed access after a fatal landslide in 1999).

That leaves Manoa Falls at 55 feet, Waimea Falls at 45-55 feet (North Shore) and Maunawili Falls which is 15 to 30 feet (near the Pali Lookout) as the popular waterfalls to visit on the island.

After Diamond Head, Manoa Falls is probably the most popular hiking trail for island visitors. The route, to the falls, is only a .8 miles making for a short 1.6 mile trip.

The Manoa Falls Trail is technically considered “easy” and it’s close proximity to Waikiki makes this a popular destination. Don’t be surprised if the trail has “choke” hikers of all ages and nationalities.

This lush area, which is considered a rain forrest, receives a lot of rain and can be a muddy mess at times. Closed toe shoes with good tread is usually recommended but locals, myself included, like to hike in flip flops (see pics).

A Little Advice

Bring insect repellant as there are mosquitos galore and plenty of water to keep hydrated. It would be a good idea to stay out of the water if you have any cuts (swimming is no longer allowed at the base of the falls).

Leptospirosis is common in Oahu’s freshwater streams. This disease is caused by a bacteria that can be transmitted through open cuts as well as through the eyes.

A warning for those hiking with their dogs: on Wednesdays and Sundays there is active pig hunting on the trail. The hunting dogs may be unleashed so you might want to hike another trail with your pet.

manoa falls3 manoa falls4 manoa-files5 manoa falls6 manoa falls7

Parking and Directions

The Manoa Falls parking lot has been closed because of high car thefts. There is parking nearby at Paradise Park, for $5, or you can park in the lower neighborhood for free.

I found a cool moped map with directions from Waikiki to Manoa Falls. There are some streets that change names, which can be a little confusing, but keep going straight and you will arrive at your destination…no worries!

manoa falls map2

One Last Thing

There are some possible dangers if you linger around after dark. The trail is a path used by the Night Marchers which are the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors. This may just be a legend but…no need take chances!

I Love to Run at… – Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

koolau panorama

entranceI love to run at…Two of my favorite places to run are Ala Moana Beach Park and Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. While Ala Moana has many runners/walkers & choke cars, there are only a few walkers and infrequent vehicles at Ho’omaluhia.

map my run routeDefiniton of “choke” is vast amount :-/

Ala Moana Beach Park & Magic Island is a very flat 2.6 mile loop. The Ho’omaluhia route is a 5 mile up & back with many dakine…hills.

Definition of “dakine” is whatchamacallit 😉

Ho, I almost forgot that Ala Moana has grindz (food) and shaved ice but Ho’omaluhia has those majestic Ko’olau Mountains to gaze your eyes upon (see top photo).

A Little History

Back in the 60’s, there was torrential flooding to the Keapuka Neighborhood. To protect this area, the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam over Kamo’oali’i Stream.

Construction began in 1976 and concluded four years later. Soon a body of water took shape (Lake Waimaluhia meaning “peaceful, fresh water”) covering 37 acres.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden means “a place of peace and tranquility” and opened its gates in 1982. There are 400 acres of rare and endangered plants from 8 tropical regions of the world (each with a small parking lot and hiking trails).



There is an abundance of parking throughout the park so you can start your run almost anywhere. There are restrooms and drinking fountains aplenty (near camping sites).

The route is a full 5 mile up & back that is both winding and hilly. It is a challenging workout that I’ve failed to complete numerous times 🙁 Be prepared to get wet as it rains 100 inches, a year, in the area.

There are also trails for hiking or running. Just after the visitor center is the American Tropical planting (look for the “Pa Launa” sign. There are trails that go to the left and right of Lake Waimaluhia (get a map from the visitor center).


Important Info

The Ho’omaluhia is open daily from 9am to 4pm (closed for Christmas & New Year’s). If you arrive before or after, there is a pedestrian gate that your can walk or run through.

Directions: you will most certainly be coming east on the Likelike Highway (63). That’s “Leaky leaky” Highway! Turn right on Anoi Road, then turn right on Luluku Road. If you have a GPS, just punch in 45-680 Luluku Road, Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Remember, admission is always free, free, free!

Hawaii Trivia Quiz – Test Your Knowledge!


Hawaii trivia quiz? Yes, I know it’s early but time for a dakine…pop quiz! It should bring back fond memories of your school days. Since most of you, taking the quiz, are not from Hawaii, I won’t make this too difficult…I promise! You have 3 minutes and 20 seconds to finish. That’s a whole 20 seconds for each question! Easy?!?! Protection Status