Waikiki Aquarium

by Randall Kowalkowski and Imelda Bongolan

Tired of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, but still want to be close to the action? Give me a few minutes of your time and I will tell you about one of Waikiki's special offerings.

Conveniently located on Kalakaua Avenue, near the Diamond Head end, the Waikiki Aquarium is part of Queen Kapi'olani Park on the island of Oahu. One of the many unique facets the aquarium has to offer is that it is situated next to a living reef. From the hotel area of Waikiki, you can get to the aquarium by bus, a quick taxi ride, or an enjoyable walk along Waikiki Beach. Its unique location puts the Aquarium within walking distance of the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Shell. The friendly and well-informed staff is dedicated and work an array of hours so they may accommodate guests seven days a week except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The hours are from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. There are several different admission fees offered: adult visitors $6.00, students with an I.D. card, $4.00, persons 60 or older and children 13 to 17, $2.50, and children under 12, free.

The Waikiki Aquarium, founded in 1904, is the third oldest aquarium in the United States. As part of the University of Hawaii since 1919, the aquarium has a mission "to help people of all ages understand, love, care for, and work to protect the life of the ocean," as well as entertain us. It offers 48 exhibits and 326 different species of fishes, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants. The aquarium is home to Hawaiian monk seals, an endangered species protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There are only between 1000 and 1500 monk seals left, most living in the isolated Northeastern Hawaiian Islands.

After entering the circular lobby and paying a modest admission fee, enter the darkened hallway to the right. As you enter the Seavisions Theater you will see several exhibits of live jellyfish and view a short movie on invertebrates. Moving on to the next passage of the aquarium, acknowledge the huge built- in aquariums that measure about 36 inches by 60 inches and larger where you can appreciate the exciting format of each exhibit. In the aquariums are different species of organisms living under the water, such as small shrimp, lobsters, a collection of different fishes, shells and plants that grow under water.

To the left against the wall as you walk through the to the next passageway, you will see the various display collection exhibits where one is able to touch and feel the displays. Continuing the journey, you will be awestruck by the tapestry of color enhanced by the dimly lit corroder surrounded by brightly lit 200 to 300 gallon exhibits with different types of reef fish found in Hawaiian waters. Feeling as if your under water, due to the dark atmosphere, your next stop is the Shark Gallery. The Waikiki Aquarium has an extensive shark research program as well as skeletal displays. The last passage-way you will find the collection of Hawaiian fish such as the famous talapia and mullet to name a few.

As you proceed to the outside exhibits, the breeze and the salty smell of the ocean will rub against your skin while your eyes will take in the panoramic view of the ocean and Diamond Head. Among the few outdoor exhibits are the monk seals where it is located on the left and further down the walk is the mahimahi hatchery which include mahimahi eggs and food. This is the last exhibit you will see before heading back to the lobby. In the lobby before exiting the aquarium, you will find the gift shop that offers a variety of educational materials, books, toys and souvenirs. According to the staff the stuffed sea animals is the favorite purchase of most visitors.

Seeing the different types of living organisms and species the ocean offers is quite interesting. Adorable is the appropriate word to describe the different fish collections that the aquarium offers and the darkness of the place gives you the atmosphere of being down deep in the ocean.

So, here you are in Hawaii, a virtual paradise. You have seen what Hawaii has to offer on the surface, why not see what we have to offer under the surface?

Go to Waikiki Aqurium's Home Page