Located in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Waikiki Aquarium is a part of the University of Hawaii and aims to promote the appreciation, understanding, and conservation of marine life in the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can expect to see world-class exhibitions, unique events, and a wide variety of rare Pacific marine life. The Waikiki Aquarium opened its doors in the spring of 1904, making it the 2nd oldest aquarium in the country! When the aquarium originally opened its doors, it was known as the Honolulu Aquarium, its goal was to showcase the rare and breathtaking ocean reefs in Hawaii.

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The aquarium’s construction was funded by the Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company. This helped the company entice passengers into staying on the trolley to the very end; the Aquarium.

When the aquarium opened it had 35 tanks and about 400 marine animals. During the very first year, the aquarium was said to have “the finest collection of fishes in the world” by David Starr, an internationally renowned biologist.

Throughout its rich history, the aquarium has undergone many expansions and celebrated many achievements. Most notably, it has recently celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2014. The aquarium is still renowned for its vast collection and world-class exhibitions to this day.


Amazing Adaptations:This exhibit features the unusual creatures within the Synghathidae family; sea dragons, seahorses, and pipefishes. These creatures are displayed in a 60-foot, 3,000-gallons exhibit.

Corals Are Alive:This exhibit features a wide variety of colorful corals from the coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can watch the live coral grow and reproduce as they learn all about the life cycle of different coral species.

South Pacific Marine Communities:This exhibit highlights the extremely diverse marine life that resides on the coral reefs within the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 4,000 species of fish and approximately 400 coral reef species.

Jet Set:This exhibit features animals that can propel themselves through jet propulsion, including the nautilus, the octopus, and the squid.

Hawaiian Marine Communities:This exhibit features the marine life native to the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. The various parts of this exhibit are divided into galleries based on each chain of islands and the special, unique creatures that reside there.

Ocean Drifters:This exhibit features the magical jellyfish! There are a wide variety of species on rotating display including moon jellies, Atlantic sea nettles, blue bubblers, and lagoon jellies.

Hunters on the Reef:This exhibit features the animals that find themselves at the top of the food chain among the reef – including sharks, jacks, and groupers.

Diversity and Adaptations:This exhibit features smaller animals that use deception, venom, and armor to defend themselves and find food. Seahorses, shrimp, eels, and frogfish are all on display.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:This exhibit features animals from the largest conservation reef in the United States – the Papahanaunokuakea Marine National Monument. This area is home to more than 7,000 different species of marine life and the aquarium has many of them on display.

Marine Protected Areas and Conservation:This exhibit features animals that reside in the protected harbors of the Pacific Ocean, including the Asian arowana, tilapia, and stream gobies.

Edge of the Reef:This exhibit is a huge outdoor exhibit with more than 7,500-gallons with thousands of animals that call the Hawaiian shoreline home. Species like the yellow tang, the pufferfish, and the triggerfish are all on display in this gorgeous gallery.

Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat:This exhibit features the playful and endangered Monk Seal! These amazing creatures are one of the most critically endangered species in the world and their health and safety is a huge priority to the aquarium.

Ocean Aquaculture:This exhibit features the Pacific Six Fingered Threadfin. This fish is a popular food item among the locals and used to be known as a royal food.

Coral Farm:This exhibit features a 250-gallon outdoor coral cultivation garden where visitors can learn all about how to protect and preserve coral.

Giant Clams:This exhibit features giant clams which reside in the reefs of the Pacific Ocean – some of these beauties can reach 3 feet long and more than 500 pounds.

Upcoming Events:

Critter Encounters:Every Monday morning from 9:30 – 10:30, visitors can get a behind the scenes look at the animals that call Hawaiian reefs home. Guests can hold Seastars, sea cucumbers, and even feed a live anemone. This is perfect for families and children over the age of 4, the cost is $5 per person.

Afternoons at the Aquarium:Every Wednesday afternoon from 3:00 – 4:00, visitors can attend an interactive learning activity at the aquarium. Admission is free with entrance to the aquarium and the event is perfect for the family that loves science!

Behind the Scenes Tours:Every Thursday afternoon from 3:00 – 4:00, visitors can take a tour and learn about what it takes to keep an aquarium running smoothly!

Additional Information:

Waikiki Aquarium, 2777 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815, Phone: 808-923-9741

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