Waikiki Aquarium :- Detailed Family Guide

Established in March 1904, the Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest aquarium in the United States. In the first year itself, the aquarium had 35 tanks and 400 marine species and today it is proud to showcase 3,500 organisms of which 490 species are of marine plants and animals.
Every year more than 330,000 people visit the aquarium and over 30,000 children take part in its educational programs. It has been termed as the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center for the Pacific Island Region of the Coastal America Partnership.
Aquarium has interesting exhibits and shows for visitors of all ages with special programs for school children. You can also plan a private event here, such as birthdays, weddings and more to make it a unique experience or have community group visits to the aquarium for offices and other such groups.
The Waikiki Aquarium hours are quite long giving you ample time to explore this haven of marine life at leisure. The Waikiki Aquarium admission fee is quite minimal making it affordable for one and all. Let’s find out all about this wonderland of colorful marine life of Hawaii.

Waikiki Aquarium history


Waikiki Aquarium was formed on 19th March 1904 and is the second oldest public aquarium in the US. Initially, it was known as Honolulu Aquarium and was established with the aim of showing to the world the rich flora and fauna of Hawaii. In the first 15 years,
the aquarium worked as a privately financed institution that had display animals that the local fishermen collected. In 1912, it started its research division and ever since then, it has been adding exhibits, introducing new conservation and research programs and much more. Today, it is referred to as one of the best aquariums in the world.

What makes Waikiki Aquarium special

No trip to Hawaii is complete without a visit to the Honolulu Waikiki Aquarium. This home to myriad marine species is a great way to introduce children to aquatic life and make them aware of ocean conservation.
You not only get to see beautiful fish in their natural habitat but also understand their feeding habits and how to conserve them. There are many projects for the same at the Waikiki Aquarium for you to volunteer that add to the charm of the place and make it more relevant.
Here are some reasons that you should definitely visit this paradise on Earth. You can also read Waikiki Aquarium reviews to understand the authenticity of the place and the work they do.

  1. Unique events

Aquarium is all set to make any of your special events all the more unique and special. Be it birthdays, weddings, graduation or more, you can have the perfect backdrop for any occasion with customized shows and events.
You can the best open-air settings with tailor-made events. You can take stunning Waikiki Aquarium wedding photos and get them framed as an everlasting memory

  1. Waikiki Aquarium discount tickets

Aquarium has special prices for senior citizens, people in active military duty and Kama‘aina personnel. Also, entry for children under three years of age and FOWA members is absolutely free.
Waikiki Aquarium discount coupons can be collected at the admissions counter or online. You just have to give the Waikiki aquarium discount code and avail of all the benefits.
Many people visit this place as the Waikiki Aquarium price is quite affordable in comparison to other aquariums. You can also avail of Waikiki Aquarium coupons to get discounts on food and entry to some shows and events.

  1. Myriad exhibits and shows

Waikiki Aquarium is one of the most popular things to do in Oahu, Hawaii. Situated close to a living coral reef, this beautiful aquarium will delight your senses with magnificent, multi-colored tropical fish, reef sharks, live corals and much more, shown through huge exhibits. It also has special shows too.

  1. Educational programs for children

Educate children about aquatic life in a fun way at the Waikiki Aquarium. There are different programs planned for children of different ages groups, including a self- guided tour, docent-guided and special presentations.
All are priced differently. The main aim of these programs is to sensitize children about marine life and its conservation.

  1. Volunteer programs

At Waikiki Aquarium, learning is of key importance and it is best understood through volunteer programs where enthusiastic people from any walk of life join and learn about Hawaii’s marine life.
So if you are interested in such work and are above 18 years of age, take a plunge right away and enroll in a Waikiki Aquarium internship program. You will love the experience. You can also apply for a permanent position through Waikiki Aquarium jobs that are posted on the website regularly.

  1. Virtual experience

For those of you who cannot visit Waikiki Aquarium Honolulu Hi due to logistical reasons, there is an option of a virtual tour. There are regular, updated videos that are put up on the official website using Waikiki Aquarium live cam and webcam. You can visit some of the popular exhibits and interesting shows that the aquarium hosts through this tour.

Waikiki Aquarium admission

Entry into the aquarium is easy and the Waikiki Aquarium cost per person is quite affordable. You can find out how much is the Waikiki Aquarium cost online or from the admission desk and also book Waikiki Aquarium tickets online.
There are special Waikiki Aquarium prices for members and people from the defense and Kama‘aina.
At Waikiki Aquarium there is saltwater pick up for members For adults between ages 13 and 64 years the tickets are priced at $12 while for kids between 4 -12 years of age it is available for $5. Kama‘aina and people on active military duty only have to pay $8 while senior citizens above 65 years of age or people with disabilities pay $5. For children below three years of age and FOWA members, the entry to Waikiki Aquarium is free.
There are special prices for group reservations and for special events like birthdays. All members need to carry a valid photo id and membership card to get free entry. Tickets booked online do not get any refunds.
Also, all children below 18 years of age need to accompanied by an adult. The aquarium is open every day but for two holidays and some days are termed as Waikiki Aquarium free days where no admission fee is charged.

Waikiki Aquarium Exhibits

The Waikiki Aquarium is divided into 13 display areas with many exhibits highlighting sea creatures and habitats, including giant clams, sea dragons, jellyfish and octopus. Very often new exhibits are added to the aquarium adding more life into it. Here are some of the popular exhibits of the aquarium:

  1. Amazing Adaptations

This beautiful gallery displays a wide range of sea dragons, seahorses and pipefishes displayed in 9 exhibits. These are unusual fish that have the male species caring and rearing the young ones. This gallery has a wall of more than 60 feet with over 3,000-gallons of water.  

  1. The Living Reef

Waikiki Aquarium
This exhibit was opened only last year for visitors. It showcases the coral life of the Pacific Ocean. It shows both soft and stony corals of the Pacific Ocean.
You can visit Waikiki Aquarium at night too for a special price and search for night-active crabs, eels, lobsters, octopuses and many other creatures. The Waikiki Aquarium night reef walk is a unique experience, not to be missed. 

3. South Pacific Marine Communities

It has five exhibits that showcase the habitats found on coral reefs of the tropical Pacific Ocean. One of them has a living mangrove forest with plants and fish. It also has one with various live corals with large, fleshy polyps and many more.
The most popular one is the 5,500 gallon Barrier Reef exhibit with more than 100 species of fish, live corals and giant clams. You can get stunning Waikiki Aquarium images of these species on the official website.

  1. Jet Set

This exhibit showcases species that move from one place to the other through jet propulsion. The two exhibits with such species are the Nautilus exhibit that has animals from millions of years ago and the Octopus exhibit that has a Hawaiian day octopus., which are ace at camouflage.

  1. Hawaiian Marine Communities

Hawaii has diverse marine habitats, which is shown in the various exhibits, from the gentle waves and currents of Kāne‘ohe Bay to Oahu’s surf-scoured coastlines of Koko Head and the deep reefs of Lāna‘i. It is mesmerizing to see the marine life in their natural habitats.

6. Ocean Drifters

This gallery has a changing exhibit that shows jellyfish or sea jellies from all over the world. Sea Jellies are seasonal and hence the animals in this gallery are changing throughout the year.
The Waikiki Aquarium box jelly tanks are specially designed to have constant water currents that keep the jellies in motion. There is a Waikiki Aquarium box jellyfish calendar that calculates the full moon as seen from the aquarium and the probability of seeing these magnificent jellyfish.

7. Hunters on the Reef

This gallery exhibits deadly sea creatures, including zebra sharks, giant grouper and bluefin trevally. These predators maintain the balance in the community and add to the wide variety of fish found here.
Some of the Waikiki Aquarium sharks include Blacktip Reef and Tiger Shark. They look devilish but are fascinating creatures of the water world. You can see these rare sea creatures at the Waikiki Aquarium pictures gallery too.

8. Marine Protected Areas and Conservation

This is the only freshwater exhibit in the aquarium and hosts Hawaiian stream gobies, Asian Arowana and tilapia. Some of them are endangered species due to altered habitats and invasive species.

  1. Waikiki Aquarium Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat

Waikiki Aquarium
This is one of the critically endangered species in the world and is found only in the Hawaiian Islands. There are two male Hawaiian monk seals at the Waikiki Aquarium who have spent all their lives here.
They can be seen active in the morning and evenings and the rest of the day they spend lounging somewhere in a corner. There is a live webcam to capture its movements at all times. 
Besides these main exhibits, you should also have a look at Northwestern Hawaiian Habitat, Coral farm, Giant Clams and Ocean Aquaculture.
All of them show the beautiful marine life found in the Hawaiian islands. Besides the animals, there is a wide variety of seaweeds and coastal plants found all over the aquarium that helps the sea creatures thrive. See the Waikiki Aquarium map on the website to understand the location of each gallery better. 

Waikiki Aquarium events

You can hold special events like birthdays, weddings, meetings and graduation ceremonies at the Waikiki Aquarium. With a unique backdrop and customized facilities, a Waikiki Aquarium birthday party or any other special event can be made truly memorable. A Waikiki Aquarium wedding reception is also unique.
Imagine exchanging vows under the open sky and colorful marine creatures in the backdrop. Any of the A Waikiki Aquarium party give you access to the Aquarium Galleries in this program and also visit the manicured Aquarium lawn with a stunning view of the Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.
You need to book these events at least four weeks prior to the scheduled function. The Waikiki Aquarium facility rentals are quite affordable. For an event with up to 100 people, the rental is $2,000 that includes the facility rental, security staff, admission, 18 tables and 100 chairs.
If there are more than 100 people than each additional person has to pay $8. There is no charge for children below 4 years of age. Waikiki aquarium rental is available to members at discounted prices.
Besides this, the aquarium has some special annual events too. For instance, the Waikiki Aquarium concert held in the summer. Guests can visit the Aquarium galleries that are open throughout the evening.
There are live entertainment programs and delicious food in the open air under the stars. Check out the Waikiki Aquarium summer concert series 2018 and 2019 to know the kind of fun you can have with your family and friends. It had also hosted Little Planet Waikiki Aquarium in 2018.
This converted the aquarium into a virtual theme park where children and adults can have fun through virtual and augmented reality. For kids, you can also try out the Waikiki Aquarium summer camp. It caters to children’s activities and also educational talks and presentations. 
Another interesting event is the Annual Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo that is held at the Aquarium. It is also known as Waikiki Aquarium earth day and is always celebrated with great pomp and show.
However, this year due to the COVID – 19 pandemic it was postponed indefinitely. Another social event is the Waikiki Aquarium beach clean up that is planned in October 2020, where volunteers are being invited to help clean up areas surrounding Waimanalo Beach Park and rid the beach of plastic and trash.
You must experience the Luau Waikiki Aquarium, a traditional Hawaiian feast with delicacies such as poi, salmon, pork, beer along with a traditional entertainment program of Hawaiian music and hula.

Waikiki Aquarium activities and classes

Besides the Waikiki Aquarium concerts and other fun events, there are many educational events planned for kids and adults both. The main aim is to educate people about marine life and the aquatic habitat.
This endeavor is fulfilled through various classes and activities that take place throughout the year. For instance, every Monday there is a session on Hawaiian Reef animals, a behind the scenes tour on Wednesday.
There are some classes and activities planned for children too. You can book a private tour of the aquarium forming a group of 6- 45 members. These tours are available between 8.00 am and 2.30 pm from Monday to Friday but prior reservations need to be made.
You can also experience the Aquarium self-guide tour where you are given an audio explaining all about the different exhibits. You can see all the Waikiki Aquarium animals in their natural habitat and understand their food habits, nesting and much more.

School Programs

The Waikiki Aquarium education department hosts many programs especially for school children to educate them about marine life. There is a Docent Guided program, which is a 75-minute show that features a 30-minute interactive classroom presentation and a 45-minute tour of the aquarium.
The fee for this show is $60 and the reservations need to be made two weeks in advance. You can also take a Self-Guided tour that lasts for one hour that educates children about marine creatures and helps them with special projects related to aquatic life.
The Waikiki Aquarium also has some special presentations for all ages groups of children on aquatic life. The program fee starts from $50 and depends on the presentation and the time taken for it. All the reservations need to be made much in advance. You can use the Waikiki Aquarium coupon to get some discounts.

Waikiki Aquarium job openings

At the Waikiki Aquarium, there are regular job opportunities for researchers, young marine life enthusiasts who want to learn about conservation and help save marine life. You can have a look at Waikiki Aquarium news for regular updates.

Waikiki Aquarium membership

You can become a member of the Aquarium as a Friends of the Waikīkī Aquarium (FOWA). It will give you unlimited access to the aquarium for one year and also a chance to participate in all the Aquarium-sponsored events such as Waikiki Aquarium family night.
You can become a member by filling a form online and enjoy Waikiki Aquarium reciprocal benefits. You can also gift a membership to anybody interested in marine life. This Waikiki Aquarium annual pass works out to be cost-effective if you plan to visit the aquarium often.

 Waikiki Aquarium gift shop

The Waikiki aquarium gift shop has some interesting and unique items that you can take as a memoir of your trip to this beautiful place.
You can take interesting Waikiki Aquarium photos and get them printed on a mug. Or choose from fascinating books on marine life, artwork to decorate your home, toys for your children and many novel things representing the ocean.
You can find a lot of choices for mementos to take home or to gift a loved one. All the proceeds from the gift shops are used for the conservation activities at the aquarium.

Hotels near Waikiki Aquarium

There are some great options for accommodation near Aquarium that range from luxurious to budget hotels. Any hotel near Waikiki Aquarium is only a few minute’s walk from the aquarium.
You can pick one depending on your finances. All of them offer comfortable lodging and good food options. Here are some of the top picks of different range of hotels and all are at a walking distance from Aquarium.
You can check out Waikiki Aquarium Tripadvisor to get the best deals. It also has some great options for food such as seafood buffet at South Shore Grill near Aquarium.

  1. The Kahala Hotel & Resort

This luxurious beachfront resort is about 5 miles Waikiki. It has both suites and rooms with all the amenities and facilities. Some of the upgraded rooms also have a view of the beach or lagoon with the high-end suites having separate living areas and state-of-the-art furnishings.
You can spend your free time trying out the spa, fitness center and visit the private lagoons with resident dolphins. This resort is the best choice if you want to splurge on your holiday.  For the latest prices please click here.

  1. Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

Located very close to Waikiki Aquarium Honolulu, this upscale resort is the ideal place to indulge in luxury and relish tranquility. Earlier known as Pacific Beach Hotel Waikiki Aquarium, it has all the basic facilities like coffee maker, fridge, room service and excellent furnishings.
Each room is designed aesthetically keeping in mind the natural setting of Waikiki. While you are not exploring Waikiki Aquarium you can spend your time leisurely at the swimming pool, fitness centers and the outdoor tennis court or simply relax in your room overlooking the sea. For the latest prices please click here.

  1. The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel

Looking for an intimate affair with nature, stay at The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. This understated hotel offers ultimate luxury at decent prices. Nestled between Kapiolani Park and the beach, this beautiful hotel is ideally located for all those who want to visit Kaikiki Aquarium.
It is at a 2-minute walking distance from the aquarium, giving you the luxury of hopping back to the hotel whenever you want. Enjoy this alluring escape from the hustle-bustle of the town at your stay here. For the latest prices please click here.

  1. Darmic Waikiki Banyan

Looking for a budget hotel, head straight to Darmic Waikiki Banyan. Located just 1 km away from Waikiki Aquarium, this comfortable hotel is ideal for those on a tight budget. With 870 privately-owned condos, this hotel gives the feel of a home away from home.
While you are not at the aquarium you can indulge in all the activities at the hotel, including swimming, soaking in the Jacuzzi and sauna or simply relaxing in the lawns. You can find the latest prices for the hotel here.

  1. Royal Grove Hotel

For all those on a shoestring budget, Royal Grove Hotel is the perfect place. Located just 1.2 km away from Waikiki Aquarium, this hotel makes for an ideal abode with all the basic amenities in place.
Just a minutes walk from the beach, you can soak the sun and sand while you are not exploring the marine life at the aquarium. You can also take a plunge in the swimming pool, sweat it out in the fitness center and relish some authentic local food at the restaurant. To get the latest prices for the hotel, click here.

Restaurant near Waikiki Aquarium

There are many great seafood restaurants near the aquarium including, Naula Health Bar and Cafe, Barefoot Beach Cafe, Hau Tree Lanai, Paniolo Beachside Grill and many more.
They all offer delectable food and the best part is that they are located at a walking distance from the aquarium. So you can rest those tired feet after a day at the aquarium and relish some great grub at any of these restaurants.

Where is Waikiki Aquarium?

Waikiki Aquarium Oahu is ideally located for any tourist as it is located in the heart of the town with many hotels and resorts within walking distance. It is located at  2777 Kalakaua Avenue near Kapi‘olani Park.
It is within walking distance of  Waikīkī Beach. You can easily reach Waikiki Aquarium by TheBus taking routes 14, 19, 20 and 22 or use Waikiki Trolley’s, Green Line.
If you are driving to Waikiki Aquarium, take exit 25A to King Street/ Waikīkī/Honolulu Zoo and turn to Kapahulu Ave to reach Kalakaua Ave. The Aquarium will be on the right-hand side of Kalakaua Av
Aquarium is about 17 km from the Honolulu Airport (HNL). You can either take a bus (Line 19 by TheBus), taxi or even a shuttle service.
The fastest way to reach the aquarium is to drive, taking about 14 minutes but if money is a constraint then the bus option is the best taking but it takes about one hour to reach. You can take a trolley to Waikiki Aquarium too and enjoy a leisurely ride to the aquarium.

Waikiki Aquarium parking

Waikiki Aquarium has a parking facility through metered street parking at Kalakaua Ave. There are very few free parking slots located right in front of the entrance of the aquarium. Though they are available only for visitors to the Waikiki Aquarium. On busy days you can parking passes for two hours from the admission desk.

 Waikiki Aquarium hours

Waikiki Aquarium is open on all days between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm but on special days like Thanks Giving it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on New Year’s Day it is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Also, twice a year, the facility remains shut, including Honolulu Marathon Day on 13th December 2020 and Christmas Day. However, since August 20th, 2020, the aquarium is shut for an undetermined period of time.
Check the website for the latest updates. You can also contact them on the official Waikiki Aquarium phone number -+1-808-923-9741 for any queries.

Other attractions in the vicinity

Besides the Waikiki Aquarium, there are many other sights and sounds that are a must-do whilst in Waikiki. You can take on some adrenaline-filled activities like snorkeling. There are many options near Waikiki Aquarium. If you love surfing then you must take some lessons at Hawaii Surf Lessons 101.
They have windsurfing, kitesurfing and regular surfing. You should also visit Surf You to the Moon, located very close to Aquarium and experience snorkeling with experts. Begin your day watching the sunrise at the Waikiki Beach and stretch out your muscles as you do yoga with Yoga Under the Palms.
The yoga experts here will teach you all the yoga asanas to relax the body and mind. Spend time walking around Honolulu’s oldest public park, Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden and soak in the natural beauty and beautiful assortment of flowering plants.
Take your kids to visit the  Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium for sure as both of them are home to the animal world. Many a time, there is a toss for Maui Ocean Center vs Waikiki Aquarium. Both are great in their own place so if you have the time, you should check out both.
You must also visit Diamond Head Luau at Waikiki Aquarium to get an authentic farm to table Luau experience. Many people ask about Sea Life Park vs Waikiki aquarium as they are similar but the latter has more number of species with a special focus on research and volunteer programs. If you have the time you should visit Sea Life Park too.


Built along the scenic Honolulu shoreline, overlooking a live coral reef, Waikiki Aquarium, is one of the best places to visit in Oahu.
This award-winning aquarium is an educational center for children and adults. It showcases the wondrous aquatic life through beautiful exhibits and shows. Get set to be delighted with multi-colored tropical fish, live corals, deadly reef sharks, endangered monk seals and much more!
When you are tired after roaming around the area, you can grab a quick bite at a Waikiki Aquarium restaurant. There are many delicious options. The aquarium also has volunteer programs for people to contribute towards the working of the aquarium and learn about marine conservation.
You can either be a Waikiki Aquarium volunteer or simply visit it as a tourist. With so many things to do in Waikiki Aquarium a trip to this exotic aquarium is a must. 

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