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Out of a top score of 30, Maui Ocean Center scored a 28 for
child appeal, 25 for adult appeal, 25 for public facilities
(including such consumer amenities as restrooms, onsite restaurants
and ease of getting around) and 23 for service (rated for
friendliness and availability of tour guides/other personnel). With
a combined score of 25, Maui Ocean Center earned its enviable
Aptly named “The Hawaiian Aquarium,” this state-of-the-art
marine museum is “dedicated to fostering understanding, wonder and
respect for Hawaii’s marine life.” Here, visitors can view the
largest collection of live coral in the U.S., enjoy playful
swimming displays by Hawaii’s green sea turtles encounter sharks,
rays and more while learning about Hawaii’s natural history and
Through years of research and meticulous care, Maui Ocean Center
has gathered a unique collection of Hawaii’s marine life. As a
result, what would take weeks, if not a lifetime to explore in the
wild, can easily be seen in a leisurely stroll through the facility
in one day.
“As a relatively young attraction, we are ecstatic to have
received these two amazing commendations,” stated Kate Zolezzi,
Maui Ocean Center’s general manager. “There are many excellent
family attractions in Hawaii, let alone in the country. So this
recognition is a true testament to the dedication of our staff and
the quality of our product.”
Other attractions in Hawaii that received high reviews in the
Zagat survey include Maui’s Old Lahaina Luau and Oahu’s Polynesian
Cultural Center and Bishop Museum.
“After being around for six years, we’re enjoying solid repeat
business,” added Zolezzi. “We feel that Maui Ocean Center provides
the best family experience possible for all ages from six-year-olds
in strollers to lifelong divers. We have so much to offer so many
types of visitors.”
Zolezzi explained that the Center’s new Shark Dive Maui Program
is becoming a favorite. Offered to certified scuba divers 15 years
and older, the program allows participants to explore a
750,000-gallon tank that houses some 20 sharks, plus sting rays,
spotted eagle rays and tropical fish.
“Our Shark Dive Program features so much,” she added. “It’s
cultural information with an educational experience that focuses on
Hawaii’s marine life. So it’s interesting to divers even if they’ve
been everywhere in the world.”
To enhance the learning experience, digital audio guides provide
commentary on the animals that call Hawaii home. Expert naturalists
are also nearby to answer any questions visitors may have.
Complimentary naturalist presentations are also scheduled daily at
half past the hour in various exhibits throughout the aquarium.
All the animals displayed at the Maui Ocean Center are collected
exclusively from waters around the Hawaiian Islands. All collecting
is conducted under strict, government permits and the animals are
featured and cared for with integrity.
The green sea turtles, for example, are part of a
hatch-and-release program. The Center allows them a strong head
start before eventually returning them to the wild.
Many of the rays and sharks are rotated from the aquarium to the
ocean. And when a shark is brought into or released from the
aquarium, it is blessed by one of Maui Ocean Center’s Hawaiian
cultural advisors for sharks are considered na ‘aumakua (deified
ancestors or personal gods) by old Hawaiians.
The Maui Ocean Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (9-6
in July and August). Admission is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors
(ages 65 and older), $13 for children (ages 3-12) and free
admission for children under 3. Special rates, packages and theme
events are also available for groups.