A couple of weeks ago, I joined a few friends and took our kiddos to Sea Life Park. Sea Life Park has been around since I was a little girl. I’ve seen it go through some major changes over the years. I remember visiting Sea Life Park as a little girl. Prior to this visit, I had taken my son about a year ago, and it was looking run down. I’m glad to say that the Park is looking MUCH better than in previous years. I don’t know what has inspired the change but, the infrastructure and attractions are getting a MUCH NEEDED makeover and update.
To find out more about about Sea Life Park, CLICK HERE.
Now, I will say that I am well aware about keeping animals in captivity. However, I also feel that it’s very important, that the children of Hawaii have a safe place to learn about the ecosystem that surrounds them, and Sea Life Park can be that place. In recent months I have seen the park update some of its facilities. They recently installed a new Touch Tide Pool, where kids can actually hold and feel different species that live in the oceans that surround us, with the guidance that they need.
When you first walk in, you walk around the top of the shark tank, and head down into a dark tunnel with viewing windows into the shark tank. I have no idea why, but he was so scared to go in! I had to carry him all the way though the tunnel and wait at the bottom for my friends. At the bottom we watched through one of the windows, as a diver fed the manta ray and sharks.
After exiting the shark tank you can walk in any direction to any attraction. There are Dolphins, Manta Rays, Hawaiian Monk Seals, Sea Lions, Turtles, Penguins,Sharks, and both Sea Birds and Domesticated birds. Fun fact about the park is that they are the only place that take injured sea birds, rehabilitate them, and release them back into the wild.
Looking for something a little more interaction? For an added fee you can swim with dolphins, manta rays, sharks or sea lions. There’s also a luau in the evening. A couple of years ago, my husband and I came here for my birthday to swim with the dolphins. There are different tiers of interaction and we did the basic one. It was a really great experience! We also love to feed the turtles for $3.00, you get a souvenir cup filled with turtle food AKA lettuce, broccoli, and celery.
Food Choices? There is a Pinky’s Hot Dog Stand with all the standard theme park foods and Dryer’s Ice Cream Bar. On the other side of the park there is a snack stand that sells the same foods BUT there is also funnel cake (i love funnel cake) and fried ice cream in a souvenir bowl! It’s a bit pricey, and you’re mostly paying for the bowl, but it’s a nice treat on a hot day. Also feel free to bring in your own lunch for a picnic!
I think my son is still too young to sit still for the shows, but we tried. There are two dolphin shows and a sea lion show. We sat through both dolphin shows and I just about lost my mind chasing my son around the park and trying to get him to sit down. Did I mention that my son is talkative? He asked this random guy sitting next to us why he was wearing a cowboy hat and proceeded to tell him about he cowboy hat he as at home. THEN, he started calling the guy “cowboy” for the rest of the show and asked me if it was okay if we sat next to the “cowboy”. “Cowboy, cowboy look at that dolphin!” is what he said at one point. Oh, besides the show that my son was putting on, The actual shows are good, the dolphins are pretty impressive, but hey it’s not sea world so don’t expect much.
One of the things my son enjoyed was the aviary. There is a small aviary in the park with various birds like love birds and parakeets. The best thing is that you can hand feed them either with bird seeds or what they call, feed sticks. The birds willingly perch on your hand, shoulder, or head. My son LOVED feeding the birds and I had the hardest time getting him out of there. I’m not gonna lie, I loved feeding the birds too!
Another thing my son enjoyed was the playground! Yes there are playgrounds all over the island that he could play on for free. I gotta admit it is a nice playground and a nice addition to the park. It’s a great idea for when the kids need something to do in between shows.
Souvenirs? Who can leave a place they are visiting without buying or getting at least ONE souvenir? Not me, I’m a sucker for “memories”. There is a small gift shop near the food area that sells all kinds of Hawaii themed items and Sea Life Park themed items. This is also where you buy the turtle food. Looking for something cheap? My son loves doing the penny presses where ever we go. So that is our go to souvenir. For 51 Cents you walk away with a cute little memory of your trip. I also mentioned that there are food items that also come with a souvenir cup or bowl.
Overall Sea Life Park is a good experience for local kids, since Kama’aina (residents) get a discounted rate. If you’re a stay at home mom, live in Hawaii, or you like to have things to do on the weekends with the kids, the annual pass is by far a better option. Is it worth the admission fee for visitors? If you have small children, yes, but don’t feel like you’re missing out on something if you decide to skip it.
Some tips when visiting:
- Check online for discounts or specials
- Kama’ania or Locals get a discount with ID
- Kids 2 and under are FREE
- Bring your own lunch or snacks (it can get really expensive, even for a couple or family of 3)
- Bring a stroller if you have small kids. It’s not a huge park, but it’s a great option to get out of the sun, there aren’t many shaded spots around the park.
- Parking is $6.00 so budget for that too
- The park is near Makapu’u lighthouse, and Makapu’u beach, so don’t forget to pack your swimsuit for a quick dip in the ocean!