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Sea Life Park

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. ;-)

Honu (Hawaiian Sea Turtle)


Honu Keiki (baby Hawaiian Sea Turtle)… awe da’ cute!!!

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:


Related links:
Sea Life Park – Yelp reviews
Sea Life Park – Trip Advisor reviews
Pink’s Hot Dogs @ Sea Life Park – Tasty Island review


9 thoughts on “Sea Life Park

  • April 7, 2017 at 7:38 am

    My young niece tried to steal a penguin a few years ago.  I’m pretty sure she would’ve gotten away with it if I didn’t stop her.

  • April 7, 2017 at 7:57 am

    How do you feel about Sea Life Park still doing live animal shows? After seeing Blackfish, I feel this practice is out of date and should be stopped like they did at Sea World San Diego.
    Personally, I think if Sea Life Park was more like The Maui Ocean center, and focus on education, it could bring it into the 21st century….Great post

  • April 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

    @ noel – Ha ha! That is too funny. But seriously, did she really try to steal a Penguin? I can just see the poster in front of Sea Life Park: Missing Penguin: Goes by the name “Wiki Wiki”. 1 foot 2 inches tall. Black feet. Black on back, white on front. Sharp white eyebrows. Walks with a distinct waddle. Loving personality. Enjoys Batman movies, back rubs and canned sardines. Any information, please call SLP. LOL!

    @ Dean – I didn’t see Blackfish yet, so I don’t have the emotional impact in me that I know that movie created to bring public awareness to the captivity of Orcas. Another one I want to see is The Cove. Yet even having not seen those movies, to be honest I did feel a bit of sadness watching all these very intelligent sea animals in captivity. I even felt a slight sense of remorse watching the dolphin show, especially with the beautiful blue ocean off Makapu’u right in its backdrop. As cheesy as this sounds, I kinda’ wished they could jump right out of that pool, across the highway, and right into the wild ocean and be free for the rest of their life.

    While I didn’t ask, I’m curious now why they don’t have Pilot Whales anymore. That used to be an integral part of the dolphin  show, and they were equally as nimble, and of course intelligent. I’m thinking  the Pilot Whales were too expensive to maintain, probably eating a lot more fish, hence redlining operational costs. The Pilot Whales may have also been more difficult to train and become obedient.

    While I think SLP has the educational factor in place (the staff were very knowledgeable), yeah, they need to revamp the overall experience to bring it up to par. Last time I was there a few years ago, I thought the Waikiki Aquarium was very educational and presented well, to the benefit of both its sea inhabitants and visitors.

    One idea I thought of, would be to make it park sea life park, part theme park, where they have water rides that somehow tie in with the residents there. Like a water slide that passes through a clear tunnel tube in the shark tank, similar to the one in the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. Then again, that probably goes against the moral issue at stake we’re discussing. Just a thought though.


  • April 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    wait  P I N K S …. as in LA Pinks ??

  • April 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    How ironic of this posting. Look who I almost literally ran into today at Diamond Head Beach, right below the light house….

    It’s Rocky! Rocky is a 17  year old female Hawaiian Monk Seal who frequents this area. Her NOAA ID number is RH58. According to Eric, the NOAA volunteer who guarded over her as she slept on the beach this day, Rocky gives birth about once a year. Hawaiian Monk Seals typically live to around 25-30 years old.

    Rocky is a BIG, BIG girl, I’d estimate measuring at least 7 ft. long, and must be tipping the scales around 500 lbs., on the high side of typical weight for Hawaiian Monk Seals.

    Rocky was born in 2000, before NOAA started putting red ID tags on their tails, which began in 2005. However they still try to bleach their ID number on their coat (harmless) on the side of their belly area, making easier to ID them from a distance.

    Rocky, and another Hawaiian Monk Seal named Ka Iwi are known to frequent the areas between Diamond Head and Waikiki, and even been spotted together once or twice. Ka Iwi is also a female at 7 years old.


  • April 9, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Yeah Pomai, my niece definitely tried to steal a penguin from exhibit!

    This was back in 2010. Crowds were sparse even back then and so was the staff.  I don’t remember going back since then.  Like the “cool” uncle I am, I sent a picture to her mom and dad of her climbing over the metal bar to get into the exhibit.  As far as Wiki Wiki goes…I plead the 5th.

    You should definitely take the time to check out “Blackfish.”  It might still be on Netflix.  Kind of a behind the scenes on how these parks work, and how they get their animals.  Lots of interviews of the trainers (basically southern California kids who passed the swim test).  Will make you rethink if we should be keeping wild animals in captivity (sea parks, circuses, zoos, etc.).

    Great site!  Keep up the good work.

    • April 9, 2017 at 12:10 pm


      Got your email and could see what you’re talking about! Hilarious! So kolohe, yet still so innocent! lol

      Surprisingly when I brought up the subject of the film Blackfish and sea life in captivity in general to the NOAA volunteer the other day (having told him about this post), he had more positive than negative things to say about the practice. Along with watching Blackfish, I’ll have to pay a new visit to the Waikiki Aquarium and talk with one of their staff about this subject of animals in captivity, something I didn’t bring up in my last visit to SLP.

      • April 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        When I was very young, say 10, my grandmother took me to the Waikiki Aquarium (which I love to this day). The seal pool used to have a sort of waterfall into a small pool that flowed into the larger pool, likely to help oxygenate the water. I found a baby monk seal in it and picked it up an carried it around The staff, needless to say was stunned. But I was not bitten and the seal was fine with the tour I gave it. They gently took it from me and gave it back to mama seal, watching from the pool.


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