For those who want to experience the vivid marine life of O‘ahu without getting their feet wet, Sea Life Park on the Windward Coast offers interactive exhibits, a wide array of animal encounters, and 5 unique habitats for you and your family to explore.
Located an hour’s drive from Ko Olina on the picturesque shores of O‘ahu’s eastern shore, Sea Life Park is a perfect day trip for those who want to get up close and personal with the fish, turtles, and marine mammals that call Hawai‘i home. On the drive you will be treated to the incredible scenery of the Waimānalo’s secluded beaches, sheltered beneath the steep palisades of the Ko`olau Mountains and beneath the watchful eye of the Makapu`u Lighthouse.
Undersea Exploration on Dry Land
The park features 5 unique marine habitat exhibits. Look on as monk seals bask in the warm sun on their favorite rocks. See the park’s animal conservation programs in action firsthand at the Seabird Sanctuary where injured frigatebirds (`iwa), albatross, boobys, and shearwaters are returned to health, or chuckle at the antics of the Humboldt penguins in their enclosure. The penguins are decidedly not native, but are part of the park’s role in the international conservation plan for the birds.
The enchanting Shark Cave, home to several species of sharks and rays found in Hawai‘i’s waters, beckons. Personally, we could spend all day at the 300,000-gallon Hawai‘i Reef Aquarium, marveling at over 2,000 reef animals in their natural habitat. Residents of the tank include colorful reef fish, stingrays, green sea turtles (honu), reef sharks, and elusive octopi.
Sea Life Park, which was the setting for the movie 50 First Dates, also allows guests to meet the ocean’s friendly residents. Kids and adults alike will squeal with joy at the tide pool where you get the opportunity to touch starfish, urchins, and baby honu. After drying your hands, take in an educational show with informative trainers and learn more about marvelous marine mammals and the threats facing our oceans at the open-air Hawai‘i Ocean Theater. Or, throw on your bathing suit and get wet again as you hop in the water with an interactive animal encounter where you can swim with dolphins or feed a sea lion. If teeth are your thing, the park offers 2 different exhilarating “meet and greet” shark encounters, which the sharks are happy to host in their large aquariums.
The park boasts ample parking, lockers, and plenty of dining options at BeachBoy Lanai. You can even take in a luau in the evening and learn to hula, play the ukulele, and make flower leis. Check out their website for more information, maps, a schedule of activities, and to purchase advance tickets.