It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to Sea Life Park, in that I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been there. “Small keed time”, I remember going there at least once or twice a year, however in my adult years, only on rare occasions. It’s certainly good to see they’re still around, however I wouldn’t exactly say they’re “thriving”. At least not like I remember it back when I was a kid.
My impression on my recent visit this past February, at least of the facilities, was “Wow, this place really needs some work.” The glass (acrylic?) for the large shark tank and dolphin tank were in serious need of replacement, looking like it was probably the same glass from back when I was a keiki. It’s all hazy and/or scratched up, while the glazing stay all “hammah jangz”, laddat (not so hot shape).
Speaking of tank, the Shark Tank was just sad. Compared to how I remember it back in the day, hardly anything in there, except for 3 or 4 smaller pelagic sharks, including a Hammerhead, a sting ray, several Ulua, including an Omilu, and scant smaller reef fish and that was about it. The “reef system” in it looked no more alive than the ones in Kaneohe Bay (dead). And some of the sharks, including the Hammerhead, looked and acted lethargic due to their sensors being all messed up from electricity, causing them to bump the sides of the tank. Basically I’ll put it to you this way: you’ll be more entertained looking at the Koi pond in front of the Blaisdell Arena or in Ala Moana Center. lol
The Hawaiian Sea Turtle and Hawaiian Monk Seal displays were in the same rather remote area, giving it this feeling those are the “undesirables”, when they should be the stars of the park! The Hawaiian Sea Turtle “pond” water was especially dirty, and like the sharks, the 3 large adult Hawaiian Sea Turtles also swam around in a seemingly lethargic state, doing non-meaningful small circles and bumping into the sloped walls. The one Hawaiian Monk Seal just laid there sleeping on the distant side of the pen, which is what they do in the wild as well, but it didn’t make it anything interesting to see. I see Hawaiian Monk Seals all the time in the wild sleeping on the beach, so when I see the one here locked up like it’s in prison, it kinda’ saddened me to be honest.
On the bright side of that, the girl handling the baby Hawaiian Sea Turtle told us they hatch the eggs the adult females lay and raise them until they’re juveniles, then release them in the wild. Doing this, compared to newborn hatchlings in the wild who only have around a 4% survival rate to adulthood, the juvenile Hawaiian Sea Turtles they raise, then release in the wild have nearly a 100% survival rate to adult.
Back to the cons, at other parts of the park, there were display areas that were vacant, leaving the impression they couldn’t afford or didn’t have the crowd needed to have an attraction that’s 100% populated with sea life. More or less like the place was at around 50% capacity of venues to see. Even the food court seemed “half baked”, and it evidently was half staffed, as it took almost an hour to bring out our order of just two hot dogs!
While this was on a work week Tuesday, still, I don’t think that should matter to any paying visitor. Especially when you’re driving all the way out to Waimanalo (my islander mentality kicking in lol), plus paying full admission price, you have your expectations high. Granted we got in for just $25 for two, showing a Times Supermarket receipt with a purchase over $20, which was a sweet deal. And with that, it was SLOW. As far as visitor count, I’d say it was about 15% to 20% capacity during the entire time we were there from 10:30am to 3pm. That also took some of the fun out of it, as no one likes to be at what should be a fun place like this, and it’s “not happening”. Kinda’ like being at Disneyland, and you’re the only one on the ride. Boo! Well, that is, unless you’re like Eric Cartman on South Park, who hates theme park lines. “All them stinkin’ lines. I hate lines!” lol
Oh, and speaking of cost, they charge $5 for parking, which really seems unfair knowing you’re there at such a secluded place to enter the park and pay a high entrance fee. So you know if they’re going to ream you with parking, expect high prices for food in there as well, and sure enough. That also makes you further scratch your head when you the facilities are worn out.
Now that I got the “junk” part out of the way, the best part of this recent experience at Sea Life Park were the staff. They were wonderful! Very friendly, full of Aloha spirit, and always approaching us asking if we had any questions. More importantly they were very knowledgeable about their sea life residents. So much so, while I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t doubt many of the staff there were in school for, or have a degree in Marine Biology. The local girl narrating the dolphin show was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining. And you could tell they have a strong personal relationship in particular with the dolphins and sea lions, treating them as if they were their own kids.
That all said, following is a pictorial walk around my recent visit this past February, 2017 at Sea Life Park. Several videos as well. Enjoy. ;-)
Note, this Times Supermarket Sea Life Park discount offer expired on March 19, 2017. However as of this writing, there’s currently a discount with Foodland’s Maika’i program. See website for details.
Sea Life Park
41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy.
Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795
Tel. (808) 259-2500
The Tasty Island rating: