A Day at the Maui Ocean Center


Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Sign

Not surprisingly, the Maui Ocean Center is located on the island of Maui in Hawaii, USA.  More surprisingly for some, it is a great way to spend a day in Maui!  We were fortunate to check it out on our latest trip. 

We decided to head to the Maui Ocean Center on the worst weather day of our trip (there was rain showers and a bit of wind), which we learned when we arrived is not necessarily the best idea.  The Maui Ocean Center, like many buildings in Hawaii, is 30% outdoors.  So…if it is raining out you will get wet on your visit, but it did not dampen our day…get it…dampen :D. 

The Center is laid out in a very efficient way.  Upon entering the main gates you head off to the right to the surge zone and just continue in a loop around the rest of the grounds.  The surge zone is an area where you can see some of the most common fish from the tidal areas of the Hawaiian Islands and other tropical islands.  We saw the state fish of Hawaii (one of our favourites) the Humu’Humu’Nuku’Nuku’apua’a (yes this is the real name!). 

Fish in the Surge Zone.

Hawaii - Surge Zone Fish

Right beside the Surge Zone, is the living reef building, which had an interesting education zone set up outside the doors with workers there to teach visitors about various types of sea–life.  The living reef is a wonderful spot to see so many tropical fishes, as well as some other interesting sea creatures (like shrimp and coral).  Some negative Nancies may say why don’t you go to see these in the ocean surrounding the island.  To this we say two things, some people are not strong swimmers and would otherwise never see the creatures they get to see at the Maui Ocean Center and even when we snorkel, we can never get nearly as close to the fish and we have NEVER seen shrimp from the surface of the water in our snorkeling experience.

Tropical Fish

Hawaii - Maui Tropical Fish 2

Hawaii - Tropical Fish

Hawaii - Maui Tropical Fish 3


Hawaii - Maui Shrimp


Hawaii - Maui Octopus

From the exit of the living reef building, we looped up to Turtle Lagoon and Hammerhead Harbor.  These are both outdoors and are home to juvenile animals that were at risk.  They are brought back to health and they will be released back into the wild.  Who doesn’t love to see some cute young turtles and the funny looking hammerhead sharks are always a sight to behold!

Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Turtle Lagoon

Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Turtles

Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Hammerhead Harbor

The tour continued to the Marine Mammal Discovery Center and the Open Ocean Exhibit.  The Mammal Discovery Center gives you a very detailed (and partly interactive) look at mammals and their roles in the oceans around Hawaii.  There are no mammals in the Ocean Center, as that is not legal in Maui.  The Open Ocean area contains some jellyfish and a massive tank containing many species of shark and stingrays.  The tank contains a sitting area for you to sit and enjoy the majestic creatures as they float through the water.  There is also a tunnel to travel through where sharks and stingrays can be viewed all around.  That was the coolest experience of the Ocean Center in my opinion!  We had one stingray land on the tunnel right above us!!!  Also, ask when you enter if there are any feeding times coming up and try to get to the tank to see it.

Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Shark

Feeding Time!!

Hawaii - Maui Ocean Center Stringray

What is the coolest thing you have seen/done at an aquarium?


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