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“Huge variety of marine life and a well organized center.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center
192 Ma'alaea Rd, Hwy 30, Ma'alaea Harbor, Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793
808-270-7000
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$27*
and up
Ranked #1 of 10 Attractions in Wailuku
Activities: Fishing
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Owner description: Maui Ocean Center, Top-Rated Attraction in Hawai'i*, provides an up close view of Hawaiian Marine Life without getting wet! Maui Ocean Center, the Hawaiian Aquarium, is a great activity during any vacation to Maui, whether a family vacation, a romantic honeymoon, a relaxing retreat or an adventurous tour. Maui Ocean Center complements many of Maui's most popular activities, including snorkel trips and whale watches. About Maui Ocean Center Coral World International opened Maui Ocean Center, the largest tropical aquarium in the western hemisphere, in 1998. Since then, Maui Ocean Center has drawn thousands of visitors of all ages from around the globe to discover Hawaii's undersea world in a captivating and educational setting. Aptly termed "The Hawaiian Aquarium", this 3-acre marine park faithfully replicates the natural ocean ecosystem, where visitors encounter only animals that occur in Hawaii; many of which are found nowhere else in the world! Featuring the largest collection of live corals in the nation, and over 60 exhibits, including interpretive displays, outdoor touch pools and a 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit with 240-degree view acrylic tunnel, the marine park is designed to help visitors develop an understanding and appreciation of Hawaii's marine environment. Our Mission With the mission to foster an understanding, wonder and respect for Hawaii's marine life, all animals at Maui Ocean Center are meticulously collected and cared for by an expert team of marine biologists, divers and aquarists. Collection is conducted under strict permits with the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources and under the guidance of Hawaiian cultural adviser, Kahu (caretaker) Dane Maxwell. Maui Ocean Center is respectfully in compliance with a County of Maui ordinance prohibiting the exhibit of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Discover these fascinating mammals, along with monk seals through interpretive displays in the Marine Mammal Discovery Center. Hawaiian Cultural Heritage Dedicated to perpetuating and sharing the island's host culture, Maui Ocean Center maintains a close relationship with Hawaiian practitioners in the community. With the guidance of Kahu Dane Maxwell, the Aquarium integrates Hawaiian culture in presentations, exhibits, special events, and also in the marine park's standard of operations and service. Kahu Dane Maxwell presides over blessings of important functions and facilities, as well as blessings of marine animals such as the honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) or mano (shark). The "Hawaiians and the Sea" exhibit remains one of the highlights of the facility. Various cultural advisers and members of the community have contributed to the exhibit so that visitors may better understand the intimate relationship between the Hawaiian people and the sea. The collective result is a unique learning experience and a delightful immersion into Hawaii's rich cultural history. Coral World International Coral World International (link to Coral World Int'l page) was founded in the mid 1970's by entrepreneur and ocean enthusiast Benjamin Kahn and world renowned reef biologist David Fridman. Coral World's tropical displays are recognized as the most beautiful in the world. The company specializes in creating ecologically friendly tropical life systems in symbiotic environments. These systems are planned with an eye to accuracy and detail, and are carefully designed to ensure the perfect combination of fascination, aesthetics, conservation and education. The Coral World International group currently owns three other aquariums around the world: The Underwater Observatory - Eilat, Israel Palma Aquarium - Palma de Mallorca, Spain AQWA - Perth, Australia. In 2008, Benjamin Kahn, President of Coral World International was awarded the "Hero of the Environment" in recognition of his environmental efforts by Time Magazine.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Singapore, Singapore
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
484 helpful votes 484 helpful votes
“Huge variety of marine life and a well organized center.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2013

We visited the Maui Ocean Center on 14th June 2013 after having eaten at their Seascape Ma’alaeca Restaurant. The marine life and corals kept at this center are all from the Hawaiian seas. At the entrance are static displays of marine life followed by displays of jelly fishes and a discovery pool. The main display tanks are at the huge Open Ocean enclosure which also houses the Marine Mammal Discovery Center.

What I found impressive was the vast variety of marine life and how healthy these were. The 54-foot acrylic tunnel takes you under water to view at close hand the awesome sharks, majestic manta rays,and hundreds of other fishes swimming all around you. Outside are the turtle lagoon, the hammerhead harbor, and the surge zone where pounding waves provide shelter for the juvenile fishes from the larger predators.

Visitors to Maui could do well to place this amazing Ocean Center on their list of must see attractions! The Center caters for the physically handicapped and is wheel chair friendly. There are lots of restrooms, telephone booths, food and drink booths, and even a drinking water station. Audio guides are available. At the entrance first aid if needed is provided. Photography is permitted for personal enjoyment. Presentations on the marine life are scheduled at certain times for various sections like the Tide Pool, Deep Reef, Open Ocean Turtle lagoon and Living Reef, and it’s story time every Saturday at 11.30 am on Hawaiians and the sea.

To witness changes in shark behaviour from day to night time and observe marine creatures that glow in the dark, sleep overs can be arranged throughout the year for ages 8 to 13, and for organized groups.The Center also caters to special occasions like weddings, receptions, banquets, corporate and birthday parties. There is a small discount for seniors. Maui Ocean Center is located at Highway 30, 192 Ma’alaea Road, Wailuku. Telephone number (808) 270 7000. Their web site is mauiocceancenter.com.

Visited June 2013
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Olympia Fields, Illinois
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Too Expensive - Few Wow Moments - Poor Interactive Displays - Great Shark Tunnel”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2013 via mobile

Research did not prepare me for the disappointments we experienced here. With audio and entry for two we paid $59. The online discount of 10% off is only available if you buy a day or more in advance of going. Still, we wanted to learn about the local marine life as advertised, and I wanted pictures for art studies. There is a facility map online that's more impressive than actually being there. The turtle area was closed, which should have been stated upon entry since there are only about 5 or 6 main areas to explore. There are plenty of shopping opportunities for food and souvenirs. It's pricey but so is the rest of Maui. There was a vendor booth at the end of the main fish exhibit. They were set up in front of a tank...odd to block a display. The main aquarium house was interesting enough but there were several repeated fish in several tanks. The background for all tanks was painted the same cobalt blue. The color stands out because so many tanks have a sparse display of accessories. The taller rock formations are interesting but they are few and far between. Overall a lot of beautiful and unique fish, corals and other small marine life but not a lot of variety.
There is a petting area to touch a sea urchin, starfish and similar. Hand sanitizer is provided to be sure that you don't put dirty hands in the water. I photographed a starfish that looked quite sickly, which put me off from touching other sea life (picture uploaded). The entire display was like an uplifted wading pool with a few sea animals placed around the sides in alcoves.
There is a small shark tank near the petting are, but the water was too murky to see much. Then there is the main shark house with the infamous shark tunnel. The central interactive display is unimpressive, several push buttons to light up answers to questions and a many informational charts posted...not enough interaction. Off in a corner is the best part of the interaction experience. There is a small dark walk-around room that suggests what it would be like in the mother of a whale. Great idea! Smaller kids avoided it but teens and adults seemed to flock there. A deep-toned voice narrated various stages of being swallowed as spectators starred at water filled tubes that bubbled in sync with menacing sounds that a whale would make with lunch in his mouth. Again, great idea! Best if you have a good imagination, I do. So on through the room and finally to the shark tunnel...BEST PART OVERALL (photos uploaded).
Divers, sharks, sting rays, a sloshing food bucket, and the chance tI talk to an actual marine biologist about local marine life...very cool! One diver lingered and observed. He was sprawled across the top of the tunnel which added to the mystery of what was happening. Another diver interacted with a food bucket, stirring competition and a frenzy in the waters from time to time...very cool and somewhat scary to see the scuffle. The last diver was in the main section doing a variety of things and answering questions that the crowd encouraged the docent to ask. She was very informed and kept the interaction process alive.
Do not waste your money ($3.33 w/tax) on the audio your. The idea is sound but the information was quite minimal. Take the time to read the wall display. Much of the recorded audio is already printed on the wall.
In general, smaller children will be amazed with the entire experience, but anyone who has ever visited a proper aquarium (like the Chicago Shedd Aquarium) will not be. The entry cost is way too much for what you see. Shark tunnel gets an A+ (best display, interaction and presentation); petting area gets an F (sickly sea life is not cool); general aquarium gets a C (needs more fish variety, better tank accessories and interactive displays). Be sure to view uploaded pictures.

Visited June 2013
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Arvada, Colorado
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Wonderful introduction to the sea life around the islands”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

Stopped on our drive from the airport to Ka'anapali Beach since we arrived ahead of check-in. This center rivals a similar setup found at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas but has a better feel to it.

Both educational and 'soft touch' techniques are used to stimulate both young and old. Amazing displays of jelly fish, varieties of sharks and the beautiful and colorful species of fish within the ocean depths.

Well worth the two hours we spent to tour and speak with the marine biologists.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Great Aquarium and Great Gift Shop”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

Having spent a fair amount of time in some major aquaria, I was willing to visit the Maui Ocean Center, but prepared to be underwhelmed. Well, the visit was special in several ways. First, at the very start of our visit we got to hear Daniel, a young student intern, give his first public presentation about one of the exhibits. He was great and it was a treat. Second, Hawaiian themes and associated display tanks were beautiful and interesting - and, yes, different. Third, a nice visit to the aquarium was followed by a visit to the impressive gift store. Not only did the stored bring joy to my wife and daughter-in-law, it also provided some nice gifts "for the folks back home."

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool, New York
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Not What We Expected”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

With this aquarium being in Maui, HI I expected a lot of tropical fish and things that we would not normally see otherwise. There was not a lot of tropical fish at all. The turtle exhibit was being worked on when we went so we were only able to see about three turtles. No whales or dolphins was a big disappointment!!!There were no directions to tell you when you were done with the aquarium. They should upgrade this and add more attractions and for the price it was not worth it at all!!!

Visited May 2013
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