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In December we hopped on a plane and escaped the dreary Pacific Northwest winter. Six hours later we landed in Maui, Hawaii and were instantly soaking up the heat and sunshine.
We had an amazing time relaxing on a different beach every day. Our AirBnB condo (I highly recommend it, by the way) was right down the street from the aquarium so we decided to walk over for a Maui Ocean Center field trip.
The Maui Ocean Center was a great way to add a little education to our relaxing vacation. We got to learn about some of the aquatic life we saw while snorkeling in the beautiful blue water.
The Maui Ocean Center is somewhat of an aquarium compound. There are two large buildings full of animals, a touch pool, a turtle exhibit, a gift shop, and a few snack areas – all within a concrete border. This is great if you have a child that is prone to running off. They can’t leave the center!
The aquarium was larger than I expected. This is the first aquarium I have been to that is not completely enclosed and covered. I guess that is one of the benefits of the gorgeous Hawaii weather.
We began our Maui Ocean Center field trip by turning right as soon as we were entered the confines of the Maui Ocean Center. We were instantly greeted with an amazing pool of fish. The colors were incredibly bright. The detail on these fish is something I hope everyone gets to see in person.
Then we entered the first building. We took our time walking through this building so we could admire the sea life. The fish are so much more diverse than anything I have ever seen before. They come in every color of the rainbow, beautiful patterns, and unique shapes. We saw fish, coral, eels, and sea horses.
As soon as we exited the building we walked a few steps over to the turtle tank. A presenter told us all about the turtles as we watched her feed them their green smoothie ice cubes. Ben was especially excited about this presentation because he saw a turtle while snorkeling earlier in the trip.
The turtle exhibit is right next to the touch tank. We were able to see a starfish close up. They were bigger than I expected!
Be sure to remind your kids of touch tank guidelines:
- Wash your hands before and after visiting the exhibit.
- Touch with two fingers. One finger is a poke and three is a grab.
- Keep the animals under water at all times.
The second building was next on our agenda. We were right in time for the shark presentation so we hurried to the back of the building. The massive tank holds huge jack tuna, a variety of types of sharks, and sting rays. A diver even went in to the tank and answered questions about the animals. After the diver was out of the water, it was feeding time. That is as close to a shark feeding frenzy as I ever want to be!
After we saw the shark presentation we took our time walking back to the beginning of the building. There was a whale exhibit with a whale feeding simulation. There are obviously no whales in the aquarium, but there are whales off the coast of Maui in the winter. We were fortunate enough to see one from our balcony one afternoon! The whales hang out off the coast of the Maui Ocean Center during the winter months.
Our last stop was the Maui Ocean Center gift shop. If you need souvenirs, this is the place to go. The gift shop has an entrance from the parking lot so you don’t necessarily have to visit the aquarium to shop. A few family members stopped by a few days after our field trip to pick up a few more souvenirs before we left the island. You will find everything from postcards to books to expensive artwork.
I have been to aquariums all over the country, but this was by far my favorite.
Maui Ocean Center Tips
Try to time it so that you can see some of the presentations. The presenters are extremely knowledgable about the animals at the aquarium.
Avoid going on rainy days. We drove past the Maui Ocean Center when it was raining and the line was wrapped around the front of the building.
There are a few snack areas located inside the aquarium, but our favorite restaurant on all of Maui was Beach Bums Cafe, located in the same shopping center as the Maui Ocean Center. It was very casual with a view of the harbor. Everything we ate was delicious.
Check the Maui Ocean Center website for deals before buying tickets. They occasionally run specials, making the excursion more affordable.
Can’t get to the Maui Ocean Center? Check out their live webcam!
Our Maui Ocean Center field trip is my favorite field trip in the past year.