IN A NUT SHELL
- Outdoor “Run Around” Area
- Interesting for adults as well as children
- Membership can be pricey for many families
- Small, and as a result, sometimes crowded
Be Sure to Check Out:
The Monk Seals and the Jellyfish exhibits are sure to evoke a little fun and amazement from everyone.
The Waikiki Aquarium is located on Kalakaua Avenue on the diamond head side of Waikiki. Although I walked past the Aquarium for years, I never made it inside until my daughter was one and a half, and then returned again recently with my daughter and the two girls I nanny.
With children under five being free, the four of us got in for just $6, the Kama’aina rate for one adult (general admission for non-residents is $9, and children 5-12 are $2).
Each paid admission comes with a virtual wand tour, but given that I had an infant, a toddler, and an “almost” 3 year old with me, I knew we probably would not use it. That said, I imagine the virtual wand tour could be a fascinating learning tool for an older child.
The darkness inside the aquarium, surrounded by the stunning aquariums creates a beautiful and calming effect. The shark tank, with its glass rising nearly from floor to ceiling, is mesmerizing. It is also the only exhibit that features raised tiered seating, making it a natural favorite for nursing mothers.
Another indoor exhibit worth noting is the fascinating jelly fish section, although the children favored the more colorful polka dotted fish.
When it comes to the outdoor exhibits, the Hawaiian Monk Seal was the crowd pleaser of the trip each and every time I have attended. There is always a knowledgeable staff member there, either engaging the crowd and encouraging visitors to ask questions while they feed the fish, or hanging outside the tank, offering facts and tidbits about the mammals. And the seals do not disappoint. One continuously swam up to the girls, came out of the water, only to turn around and swim away, repeating this at least a dozen times to the children’s delight. Meanwhile the other seal seemed to be floating straight up and down in the water, slowing spinning around the whole time. The staff member explained that this funny little dance means they are sleeping.
The Aquarium has a nice-sized enclosed grassy area for having a picnic lunch, but bring a waterproof beach blanket as the field seems to be perpetually muddy. Mud aside, all three girls enjoyed burning off some steam chasing (or crawling) after the birds in the grass after lunch.
Because this place is so close to both our home, and the home of the children I nanny, I would love to get a membership. However, memberships are more expensive than the zoo memberships and I would have to go back quite a lot for it to be cheaper than paying as I go, since the kids are free anyway. (A Zoo Membership for two adults and their children is $35 while an Aquarium Membership for two adults and their children is $85) I can see a membership being reasonable for families with several children over the age of five.
The Aquarium also hosts a number of educational classes and programs for children, including a “small fry” programs for one, two and three year olds to enjoy with an adult. For more information check out the Waikiki Aquarium Web Site, www.waquarium.org.