Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Hawaii: Sea Life Park




October 6, 2014

Visit Hawaii: Sea Life Park

I have fond memories of Sea Life Park Hawaii.  As a kid I'd often go there on school field trips or with family, and I was eager to take my kids there so they could create some fond memories of their own.

Highlights of Our Hosted Visit 
The Hawaiian Shark Tank is one of the newer attractions at Sea Life Park.  The 300,000-gallon tank houses several sharks, and my kids always got excited whenever the Hammerhead Shark swam by.
Hawaiian Shark Tank
My kids really enjoyed the Aloha Touch Pool, where they got to pet a baby honu (sea turtle).  Unlike other touch pools they've been to, there weren't too many sea creatures they could touch, but they were very excited that they were able to pet a turtle - something they haven't done before at any other touch pool.

Another newer attraction is the Hale Manu (Bird Aviary).  There are a lot of birds in the aviary that visitors can feed with provided bird feed.  My middle son got really excited whenever birds would eat from his stick full of seeds.

The Adventure Kids Play Zone was a favorite spot.  It consists of a playground and a Pirate Ship (which used to have a lot more equipment). 

The Kolohe Kai Sea Lion Show showcased two sea lions who were competing in a pageant.  It was entertaining to the sea lions perform in the different pageant segments.

The Dolphin Cove Show was especially fun.  Seeing the different types of dolphins, including the world's only Wholphin in captivity, Kekaimalu, elicited a lot of "Wows" from the crowd.

The Hawaii Ocean Theatre was another highlight, as we got to see even more dolphins do neat tricks, and we also saw a couple of cute penguins.

We also had a chance to check out the new 3D Sea Interactive Marine Life Experience (it's so new that all of the seating didn't arrive yet when we visited).

The experience was about 10-15 minutes long, and it showcased 3 varieties of marine animals.  The host was able to interact with the sea creatures (feed them, etc.) and guests could find out more about each animal.

On-site is the Sea Lion Cafe, a Snack Bar (where we bought some Fries & Popcorn Chicken), and Tiki Treats (where we indulged in a Root Beer Float and some Breyers Ice Cream).

French Fries
Popcorn Chicken
Root Beer Float
Chocolate Ice Cream
Our Experience Visiting as a Special-Needs Family
My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and although I know kids on the spectrum all behave and react differently in various environments, I always try to share our personal experience when visiting attractions.

Prior to arriving we made sure to tell my son what he'd expect to see and do at Sea Life Park.  Having been to numerous other attractions featuring marine life, he already had an idea of what kinds of animals he'd see.

Upon receiving our wristbands for admission, we made sure to get a park map for my son since he really enjoys maps.  

My son's favorite part of Sea Life Park was the Hawaiian Shark Tank.  Not only could he look for sharks in the shark tank, but he loved walking through the "tunnel" (he loves tunnels and kept on asking to go through the tunnel). He also really enjoyed the touch pool and the playground.

Usually he does not care to sit and watch shows, but he did very well watching the shows at Sea Life Park, and was very enthusiastic when seeing the dolphins flip and jump in the air.  It was great that the shows were not too long (averaging about 15-20 minutes each), which prevented my son (as well as my other kids) from getting too fidgety and losing interest.

There were several places to sit if rest breaks were needed, as well as some places to run around if energy needed to be released.  The Hawaii Ocean Theatre, when not running a show, was a shady and quiet spot to sit if my son became overstimulated. 

Even though there were areas of shade, it was still very hot.  If the heat got too unbearable, we simply went into the gift shop where it was nice and cool (we also would have retreated there if it started to rain since my son has sensory issues with rain).

The park itself is not too large, and although it was quite crowded, my son did not get overwhelmed with the number of people visiting.

Those on a GFCF or other restricted diet can bring their own food into the park.

Final Thoughts
Sea Life Park has gone through a lot of positive changes over the years, and I can see the potential for more improvements to make the park even better (e.g. renovating/upgrading existing exhibits/tanks/facilities, etc.).

Although the number of exhibits is small, the variety of shows and activities they offer provides a lot of entertainment and education value for the entire family.

There are also numerous programs that visitors can participate in (for additional charge), allowing them to get up close and personal with various marine animals while learning even more about them.

Through its exhibits and programs, Sea Life Park really stresses conservation and how important it is to protect our environment and the habitats of precious sea life.

A day at Sea Life Park was filled with wonder and entertainment for our family.

We left the park exhausted, but we also left more educated and with a better appreciation for the Earth's beautiful sea creatures.

Sea Life Park Hawaii
41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy #7
Waimanalo, HI 96795
(808) 259-2500

Click here for admission information.  Parking fee is $5.

Thank you to Sea Life Park Hawaii for hosting our visit.  All opinions are my own. 

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