Exploring Maui Ocean Center Aquarium

We love sharing some of the best island experiences, like a visit to Maui Ocean Center. When family and friends arrive, we get to go along and play unofficial tour guide.

The day we visited was pleasantly warm. Since the park is spread out over three acres, there is plenty of space to see marine life outdoors, like at turtle lagoon, and even gently feel the texture of a spiney sea urchin or soft sea sponge at the touch pool. It’s nice to duck inside to the air conditioned spaces, or escape the occasional Maui rain shower.

Some of the main attactions are in three spacious indoor exhibit buildings.

The Living Reef building starts with an outdoor tidepool. Once inside, you get an underwater view of the tidepool and surging ocean. The first set of exhibits show species you’ll also see when exporing Maui’s near shore waters.

Easy to read displays help interpret what you are seeing, along with fun and interesting facts.


You’ll decend the ocean- literally! The walkway slopes down and the lights are a bit dimmer. Exhibits reveal a different set of species that inhabit the deeper reef.

Octopus image: Maui Ocean Center

Continuing on to the Open Ocean building, you’ll first encounter the culture and traditions of the first Hawaiians. We recommend you spend¬† time to explore our island history in the Hawaiians and the Sea exhibit. There are important lessons from Hawaiian ancestors including ocean stewardship and sustainability we are still benefiting from today.

Also on exhibit is Kaho’olawe: History and Healing. Find out how this uninhabited island off the coast of Maui, ¬†once a center for celestial navigation training, agriculture, and spiritual practice, became a target for military bombing excercises. Many of us long time residents remember hearing bombs hit the island, all the way up til 1990! We’ll let you discover the rest of this historic story of reconciliation and healing on the island.


Sea jellies are mesmerizing to watch, and a much safer to see at Maui Ocean Center than when out snorkeling. Though these moon jellies are fairly benign, Hawaii does have others that pack a powerful sting. Watch for signs on the beach and don’t enter the water when box jellies or man o war are present.


The expansive open ocean tank and tunnel is filled with pelagic species that you won’t see unless you’re a scuba diver. In one section there are two sets of bleachers, where people watch as the undersea world drifts, and sometimes agressively swims by.

Tunnel image: Maui Ocean Center

Finally, you’re last stop before the gift shop is the Humpbacks of Hawaii exhibit in a new spherical theater.

Humpbacks of Hawaii image: Maui Ocean Center

With a three dimensional video created from actual footage and surround sound of Pacific Humpback whale songs, you will feel their massive presence. Look eye to eye with a whale as it passes overhead. Photos cannot adequately capture this amazing show. Comfortable reclining seats and 3D glasses round out the Sphere experience, which is included in your admission ticket.

We are excited to go back to Maui Ocean Center again and again, and are confident you will love it too. See more information to plan your Maui Ocean Center visit here, and many other activities we recommend in our Explore Maui section.

2022-09-27T06:03:05+00:00April 17th, 2022|Culture, Environment, Ocean, Wildlife|

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