You can step into the ocean’s depths right in the heart of Waikīkī. Located in the shadow of Diamond Head and overlooking sandy beaches, fringing reef, and throngs of tourists playing in the surf, the Waikīkī Aquarium is a fantastic way to learn about Hawai‘i’s unique marine life without leaving dry land. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the ocean while you meet some of its more famous residents.
History by the Sea
This Hawaii aquarium opened in 1904 and is the second-oldest in the country. A combination of indoor aquaria and open-air interactive exhibits welcomes over 300,000 visitors every year, and the facility is at the forefront of ocean conservation in Hawai‘i. A visit can be an excellent add-on to a beach day in Waikīkī, or an all-day exploration (it’s a fabulous activity, especially on a rainy day).
An Immersive Experience
From the moment you step foot inside, you will be astounded by the beauty, mystery, and sheer power of the ocean and the creatures that call it home. The incredible colors and diversity of life at the South Pacific reef exhibit are truly astonishing, while the Reef Predators exhibit is home to the largest fish in this Hawaii aquarium, with giant groupers reaching 8’ and 800 lbs! Watch from the viewing area on all sides of the massive tank as the largest reef predators circle with sharks and jacks close behind.
Wandering through the halls you’ll enjoy the natural decorations: ultraviolet “black” light exposes the enchanting luminous colors of drifting jelly fish, a surge tank shows the resiliency of the vibrantly colored reef fish that thrive in Hawai‘i’s surf zones, and a special exhibit highlights the rarer species that call the marine sanctuary of Papahánaumokuákea in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands home.
Dedication to Conservation at Waikiki Aquarium
The aquarium is affiliated with the University of Hawai‘i and its marine researchers. It features educational and interactive exhibits, with an emphasis on awareness. Here you can learn about the threats our ocean faces, discover just what it takes to make a coral reef, and snap a selfie with the endangered – but friendly – Hawaiian Monk seals as they bask in the warm sun. Check the schedule for special events, classes, and presentations, and grab a souvenir from the gift shop.
After a visit to the Waikīkī Aquarium, it is only natural to feel the urge to dive into the blue waters of the Pacific and do your own exploration. Check out our other informational articles for tips on the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving on O‘ahu, and hit the reef!