Mokupapapa Discovery Center

Mokupapapa Discovery Center

Mokupapapa Discovery Center
4.5
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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About
The Mokupapapa Discovery Center allows visitors to learn about the natural science, culture, and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, and the surrounding marine environment. Since most people might not have the opportunity to visit these remote islands, the facility on the bayfront in Hilo, Hawai'i serves to "bring the place to the people" and spur greater public awareness of the region and ocean conservation issues. Housed in Hilo's historic, century-old Koehnen Building, Mokupapapa features a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium, interactive educational exhibits, life size models of wildlife found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, artwork inspired by those islands and Hawaiian culture, and many interpretive panels in both Hawaiian and English. The beauty of the historic Koehnen building has been preserved and refreshed to show off its majesty, including a koa wood staircase, Hawaiian hardwood floors, and high ceilings.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
105 reviews
Excellent
59
Very good
38
Average
8
Poor
0
Terrible
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NewsByScott
Phoenix, AZ214 contributions
Jul 2022
Walked in on a whim and left with a whole new perspective of how big Hawaii actually is and how much trash humans produce and dump. This center is free and worth about 30-45 minutes of your time learning about wildlife,culture and conservation of this protected area. You will learn the most when talking to one of the volunteers, but the displays are interesting as well. What moved me the most was the art exhibits made from all the trash that they pick up when they visit Papahanaumokuakea. Do the world a favor and start now by cutting back on plastic and disposable everything. This museum is a great reminder that what we throw away goes somewhere...
Written July 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Donna S
Roseburg, OR314 contributions
Oct 2022 • Couples
Located in downtown Hilo, this smallish museum focuses on marine life, natural history, marine debris, and the interaction of humans with their environment. We learned a lot and came away motivated to be better caretakers of Creation. The volunteers are enthusiastic and friendly. There's no entrance fee, which makes this a great thing to do with a family. There's several fun, interactive activities for kids, including a hands-on robotics area.
Written October 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

無名
Japan8,124 contributions
Mar 2020
I'm thinking about what exactly is this place. For the most part, it's just like any other national park or monument's visitor center - it welcomes people and explains the establishment (entity?) to them: one can talk to a ranger, look at displays, watch a video, get a drink, go to the bathroom, etc. What makes this center different is the actual place it represents itself is distances away, and I do mean distances as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is over a half a million square miles of mostly ocean with some small reefs and a few islands. It's a natural part of Hawaiian Island Chain too. Nobody is allowed to visit this national monument; it is a highly protected sensitive environmental area. So aside from being a mini museum, I believe this center kind of serves as a headquarters or gathering spot for various different US government agencies that takes care of the monument and are allowed to go there. I'm talking like oceanic, weather, state, federal, whatever government agencies with lots of these people themselves visiting the center or working out of there. I found all this stuff really fascinating. One of the guys sitting at a desk was telling me that when they do go out there to do whatever they do, the clothes they wear has to be frozen for at least three day to kill nasty bacteria and whatnot. They want to keep that place pristine and not introduce anything alien and harmful to the area. I talked with a lot of people here mostly about what kind of physical remains from human activity are still out there. Midway Island is perhaps the most famous spot in the monument with its WWII history and having it's only permanent human presence. French Frigate Shoals aside from having a great name has an old building or two on it. Nihoa and another small island I guess not too far from Kauai has some archaeological areas with evidence of an early Hawaiian presence - this would be awesome to visit and see if you could. Overall, this center is a great place to be educated about a very special area on Earth that sadly we all will never be able to see. Oh yea, they had this pretty cool art display thing going on I think done by kids.
Written March 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Essy
27 contributions
Sep 2022 • Couples
Not accessible for mobility impaired. First floor is spacious and roomy enough for a wheelchair. Wheelchairs are not available to borrow as some museums have. However, second floor totally inaccessible due to a very large staircase and a broken elevator.

Volunteer at desk very knowledgeable and friendly. Lots of information on an important topic.
Written September 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

rosyspex
London, UK108 contributions
Jan 2013 • Family
I love this place! I have been in at least 5 times and keep recommending to people. It has a lot of interactive displays, has been really well thought out and is massively informative! It has a wealth of different aspects to the Hawaiian islands from a geographical and environmental aspect. The videos were interesting (not so keen on the one I briefly saw on the Great Barrier reef but there was one about Monk Seals that was really interesting) The photographs were very nice and the rubbish bit was not rubbish at all :-). I felt that it was informative for children and my 2 always sneak in as we walk past! I love that it is free as with 2 kids with pretty short attention spans we can duck in and out as we please and not have to force them to see everything in one go!
The staff were informative and extremely friendly and answered all of our odd questions eagerly.
Please note that it is closed on Mondays and is NOT an aquarium as mentioned by another reviewer. There is a small tank in construction but to my knowledge will have a reef in it rather than actual fish.
Written February 13, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Life Starts at 50
Winnipeg, Canada220 contributions
Mar 2015 • Couples
Huge, family-friendly marine museum right on the waterfront. Most of information is aimed at school children, but the exhibits are interesting for all ages. Gigantic fish tank with local species; dioramas depict the effects of pollution on marine life and shore birds, display cases of artifacts, interactive exhibits about the islands. Allow at least an hour to see it all – and we understand that more is being added.
Written March 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Carol C
Hilo, HI7 contributions
Apr 2014 • Friends
What an upgrade. The old Koehnen building is absolutely gorgeous - amazing woodwork, beautiful space. It must be at least 10 times the size of the old location. There will also be exhibits upstairs soon, and a new theater. The new 3500 gallon aquarium is getting restocked and "growing bacteria" so that bigger fish can be added, plus they have an application submitted to do live coral. Wonderful and helpful staff working there, all in all a great experience and getting better all the time.
Written April 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Keith-B-Robinson
Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada944 contributions
Nov 2012 • Couples
The Discovery Center is a fresh, new-looking, well-designed (albeit rather small) museum devoted to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, which are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

The beautiful exhibits and displays describe in an exciting, vibrant, easy-to-read-manner, the biology, ecology, and history of these little known islands.

The hands-on displays are fun and the aquarium is neat, too!
Written November 29, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mike F
Antigo, WI129 contributions
Jul 2022
Worth the visit. Many cool things to see and learn about. Also has a great kids area with books, puzzles, coloring pages and a cool little interactive game.
Written July 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

reilly86
St. Paul, MN35 contributions
Feb 2020
This was a well-done discovery center, with knowledgeable staff. We learned a lot on some topics we don't usually see covered. Plus it's in a cool historic department store building.
Written February 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Mokupapapa Discovery Center (Hilo) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Mokupapapa Discovery Center

Mokupapapa Discovery Center is open:
  • Tue - Sat 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM