Maui Ocean Center…..the Hawaiian Aquarium
At the Maui Ocean Center we explored Hawaii’s unique underwater world.
From the smallest coral polyp to the seven-foot sandbar shark, the intricate wonders of Hawaii’s ocean are showcased in over 60 indoor and outdoor exhibits. Each exhibit features marine animals living in habitants closely resembling their own natural environment. Hawaii’s coral reefs comprise more than 80% of the reefs in the United States.
The Open Ocean was definitely one of our favorite attractions, if we had to pick just one. This exhibit is home to graceful stingrays and large, fast swimming fishes like sharks and jacks, all of which co-exist in a 750,000 gallon salt-water aquarium. A 54 foot long clear acrylic tunnel transported us through this pelagic realm providing a 240 degree view of nearly 2,000 fishes, while stingrays slide overhead and sharks looked us in the eye. It was a rare opportunity to see and observe these amazing animals. We felt like we were magically transported to the bottom of the ocean.
Another mesmerizing exhibit was the Sea Jelly Gallery, it was the most soothing experience seeing the sea jellies dance before your eyes in a stunning floor to ceiling cylinder.
We found ourselves in the Ocean Center Store a veritable treasure chest filled with the island’s most unique gifts which compliments the marine park’s overall experience. The dazzling array of fine artwork and jewelry created by some of the island’s most prominent artists all in one store made us feel like a kid in a candy store. This store is definitely the place to shop for unique collectables and great gifts, here, you will find something for everyone.
The Ocean Center has two restaurants, the Seascape Ma’alaea – an open air restaurant overlooking Ma’alaea Harbor with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. This restaurant offers a full service menu and the food is outstanding. The other offering is the Reef Café, a delightful outdoor café featuring deli-style sandwiches and specialty salads.
This three acre marine park, is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and was named the top attraction in Hawaii by the Zagat Survey US Family Travel Guide. The mission of the Maui Ocean Center is to foster understanding and respect for Hawaii’s marine life, we congratulate them on accomplishing this mission. This is a definite “must see” while visiting Maui. Do plan on spending the day!!