Sea Life Park

by Radonna Doughty, Leonabel Visitacion, and Scott Seabury

An "educational experience" may sound like just the sort of the thing you've come to Hawaii to escape, but the academic side of Sea Life Park is capturing far more appeal than the show-biz side. The great variety of the islands marine life, Sea Life Park is a fabulous place for outings for the whole family to enjoy.

You will find Sea Life Park about 15 scenic miles from Waikiki. Traveling east on highway one or H-1, take route 72 following the Kalanianianole Highway past Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park. The park is located on the left-hand side of the road, just past MakapuÕu Beach Park. For more descriptive directions turn to page 33 of the map sections of the Hawaiian Yellow Pages.

Admission fees are a small price to pay in exchange for all the fabulous events and attractions the park has to offer. For adults the fee is $19.95; children ages six to twelve, $8.95; children ages four to five, $3.95; children ages four and under free. Our Hawaii residents can enjoy the park at a lower rate compare to the regular admission fee...Just ask for the "kama'ai'na" rate. The park is open to the public every day of the year. The park hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm Saturday to Thursday and 9:30 t o 10:00pm on Fridays.

For a more comfortable and relaxing day, wear comfortable pair of walking shoes, a hat and a cool collected outfit. To avoid getting sunburn, make sure to bring sunscreen as most of the events are performed outdoors. You may even want to bring a lunch to eat under the shade trees while you enjoy the scenery around the park.

Sea Life Park Hawaii was first built in 1964, with the intent to create a shark research facility and has been one of the leading visitors attraction for nearly 20 years. Since 1964 nearly 10 million visitors have had a chance to see what Hawaii offers below the water line. The park is located on a magnificent ocean side setting at Makapu'u Point and has the beautiful Koolau Mountain Range as its back drops. From the park, you can enjoy a fine view of the off-shore island known as Rabbit Island or Mana na Island.

The first site that you will encounter as you walk in is the outstanding feature of the Hawaiian Reef Tank. It's a 300,000 gallon aquarium with more than 2,000 specimens which consist of sharks, moray eels, giant sea turtles, eagle rays and brightly colored fish, the electric red wrasse and orange-striped fish and of course you will also fish the state fish, humuhumunkunukuapua'a. You can watch professional divers feeding the fish through the transparent sides of the tank as you enjoy the spiraling walk around the aquarium.

Don't miss the exciting show at the Ocean Theater, a circular 175,000 gallon tank surrounded by an amphitheater which seats 400 spectators. You can count on getting wet as the Atlantic and Pacific Bottle-nose dolphins leap and spin, California sea lions and Humboldt penguins perform delightful and skilled routine to entertain you.

As you move on to WhalerÕs Cove, you will see a team of playful dolphins and two false killer whales. Here you will enjoy a delightful show watching the dolphins perform synchronized jumps and maneuvers. They jump as high as they can besides the five-eighths scale replica of the whaling ship Essex. After and before the show, everyone is invited to go below the ship to see the dolphins, whales and the parkÕs hybrid "Wholphin," the offspring romance between a false killer whale and a dolphin.

Next you should move on to see the Kolohe Hai Lion show at Makapu'u Meadows, where you will be entertained by a comedy routine you wonÕt soon forget. You might even get a few laughs from the audience if you are one of the lucky ones picked to participat e in one of the acts.

The Touch Pool offers a different type of enjoyment. You can touch, hold and see up close some of the seas slimiest, and creepiest resident, of course the park guides are there to help you. Another hands on type of activity is the Sea Lion Pool where park guest can purchase herring to feed to the sea lion as they enjoy the sun.

The Rocky Shores Exhibit gives visitors a chance to see three distinct coastal environments. Every few minutes 400 gallons of water is dumped from a 20-foot tower onto the rocks below to create a surge effect. The first section is an area similar to the rocky cliff below the lighthouse where you can see black spotted sergeant fish, salifin tangs, and Achiles tangs. Moving to the next viewing area, you will see a deep tide pool with sea urchins, sea cucumbers, small fish, cowries and opihi. The third tank contains fish from a shallow pond such as aholehole and Hawaiian sergeant fish.

Sea Life Park also has a sea bird sanctuary and a Humboldt penguin habitat. You will also find a Hawaiian Monk Seal care center where many injured or stranded monk seals are cared for before being returned to the sea. Sea Life Park has the nations only breeding program for endangered green sea turtles. Since its start the program has successfully hatched and released more then 1,900 turtles into the Hawaiian waters.

Another sight to see is the Pacific Whaling Museum where you will see the 36-foot sperm whale skeleton on display. In 1980, a 380,000 pounds sperm whale was stranded and died off of Barber's Point. The museum owners spent two years removing 20 tons of flesh (can you imagine the smell after one month) and then reassembled the skeleton bone-by-bone at the park.

Dining and shopping is also available at the park. The Sea Lion Cafe and Rabbit Island Bar and Grill gives a variety of food including island favorites and all-American food. There is also a variety of Hawaiian music to listen on Friday nights. The entertainers perform at the Sea Lion Cafe and Makapu'u Meadows and have performed all over Hawaii and on the mainland.

I would recommend this park to all who visit Hawaii and those who already live here. It's a great way to spend a day and you will be able to see a great variety of sea life that you might not see any where else in the world.

For an adventure you won't soon forget visit Sea Life Park and enjoy the many sights and sounds Hawaii has to offer. For your year round enjoyment, Sea Life Park adds great variety to the everyday life of the Hawaii resident. To the visitor, Sea Life Park will always be in your memories.

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