Explore Maui’s Eye-Popping AquariumMaui

Located at Ma‘alaea Harbor Village just off Honoapi‘ilani Highway between Kahului and Lahaina, the $20 million MAUI OCEAN CENTER is designed to draw visitors in through a series of more than 60 INDOOR-AND-OUTDOOR EXHIBITS that twist and wind their way through an impressive array of living coral reef.

Aptly named “THE HAWAIIAN AQUARIUM,” this state-of-the-art marine park is dedicated to fostering an understanding and respect for Hawai‘i’s bountiful marine life. The center was also a TOP-RATED attraction on VIATOR (a TRIP ADVISOR company) this year. Its LIVING REEF exhibit features the largest collection of live coral on display in the nation, while other displays and educational tours showcase the language, history and lore of the Hawaiian Islands.

The ocean center’s marine collection has been entirely assembled from Hawaiian Islands’ waters. GREEN SEA TURTLES—part of a hatch-and-release program— eventually are returned to the ocean.

The enchanting 750,000-gallon OPEN OCEAN exhibit can be likened to standing in a giant fishbowl—with thousands of fish swirling around you. Designed to simulate a walk in the ocean, the exhibit features a 52-foot long, 4-inch thick, 240-degree, see-through acrylic tunnel. It is not uncommon for visitors of all ages to press their faces to the sides of the tunnel, or lay their bodies flat on the floor, just for a better view of the creatures of the deep.

If you have an urge to dive with sharks, stingrays and other tropical reef fish, the ocean center’s SHARK DIVE MAUI program can oblige. Divers must carry a scuba-certified card and be at least 15 years old. The center provides the air tank and weight belts; the rest of the gear— wetsuit, mask, underwater camera, etc.—is up to you.

Expect to stay at the ocean center for about two hours. DIGITAL AUDIO GUIDES are available, and naturalists are standing by to answer questions and give presentations, which occur regularly throughout the aquarium. RESTAURANTS also are on property, as is a GIFT SHOP.

The Maui Ocean Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers plenty of free parking, and is handicap-accessible throughout.

MAUI OCEAN CENTER (808) 270-7000