Waikiki Aquarium: a World All Its Own!

Entrance to Waikiki Aquarium

From a quiet, simple entrance to a fascinating world on the inside.

World's largest clam

One of the first things you run into is their pièce de résistance… this huge clam! Periodically weighed, this darling is about two or three feet across and probably weighs just over 160 lbs or so.

Little jelly fish

There’s also these cute little floating button-like jellyfish. With all the fish in the sea, we can’t forget the jellies.

Beautiful jelly fish

Although the thought of jelly fish is usually accompanied by a painful, stinging memory (for me anyway), they are still beautiful to behold. I remember how beautiful that blue bubble was as it floated on top of the water next to me. “Wow, that’s neat,” I thought.

Then suddenly…

“Eeeekkk! My leg, my leg!” Oh the pain of it all! Lifeguards suggest meat tenderizer. I don’t remember what they used that day. I was only 7 or 8 years old, I think. I never forgot it. But, aren’t they beautiful? In the aquarium. Not next to you in the water.

Okay, I don’t remember all the types of jellies and it’s the box jellyfish, the ones that show up after the full moon, that will render you a blubbering crybaby, or maybe worse (I’ll talk about them in a later post). All of that aside, I will avoid them now just because they left me with that painful memory.

Those box jellyfish are to the unsuspecting swimmer, just as the vixen-variety of human female is to the male gender — alluring, intoxicating, seductive… ZAP! Suddenly painful, bewildering and cruel! But, aren’t they beautiful?Sea Horse

Sorry, that just seemed like the perfect analogy. Now every male surfer who reads this will start comparing his x-girlfriend(s) to jellyfish! Oh well.

The sea horse is always a fascination. I guess the need to keep them in the low lighting is why we see little of them, aside from what’s on the National Geographic Channel.

There are so many beautiful fish and varieties of plant life to see as you walk through the Aquarium. Visitors can certainly feed off of the excitement of the children who go to the aquarium with their families. Their excitement is fun to watch and very contagious.

I mention this because, much like I was, the kids were dumb-struck at first and then full of excitement at the sight of these beauties that followed just around the corner.


I was so excited when I saw them! These are black-tip reef sharks. Man?! Man? is the Hawaiian word for shark.

Sharks swim by spectators

They’re oblivious to us — calm, serene and oblivious. They just swim by. They must be so used to it after all this time. But, when I got my camera home and downloaded these pictures, I literally gasped for breath. “OMG! Look at them! They’re… right there! So close!”

That Close

That close… so close they went out of focus. Unfortunately, these were taken with my old camera — I actually took these back in March of last year. I just never got around to sharing them.

You know, many of us wonder what on earth is wrong with those people who go into the water with these cartilaginous creatures! (They have not bones, only cartilage; that makes them sound even creepier doesn’t it?) Why would they want to go down in those cages? I get it! I want to go there too!

I want to have that experience! I told my husband that, for Christmas, I wanted to go on the shark adventure they offer on the North Shore of Oahu. He thinks I have forgotten about it. I haven’t. You guys will be the first to know about it, trust me! I promise to share that story right after it happens! I don’t think I’ll be able to contain myself anyway.

Shark Science

Then comes the thirst for knowledge and the desire to understand them better. Taking a closer look, Waikiki Aquarium has not failed us in this area. These are actual displays and there is a lot of texts that accompany them. The lighting is wonderful for the viewers… just not the greatest for my poor old Kodak at the time.

Understanding the Shark

Understanding them from a zoological standpoint is necessary so we understand the need to protect them.

More Sharks

Overwhelmed by their quiet majesty, I loitered near them longer than I did anything else at the Aquarium. Their subtle power, and their environmental necessity, commands our respect and asserts the need for preservation.

They are one of the ?aum?kua (gods or deified ancestors) for many of the Hawaiian people. This is another reason we should care for their environment and protect them — for their historical value! That wouldn’t work would it? Well, maybe if we take only some of the breeds of shark, like the reef sharks, and protect them! Sigh.

Monk Seal

No, he’s not dead… he’s just fat and lazy. He’s basking in th sun and relaxing. The scars on this guy may be ones he received from one of our species of shark. However, it’s more likely that these scars were the result of trying to break free from fishing lines, netting and the like. Much like Sea Life Park has done for some of their residents, I think this guy is a lucky resident saved and adopted by the Aquarium.

Another clam outside in the sunlight

There is another clam out in the sunlight that shares its space with these beautiful coral. Those are natural colors — they are living and growing and nobody painted them or added food coloring. 🙂

Our ecosystem is so fragile and so many groups are engaged in the preservation of this underwater world. It’s an ongoing struggle but so very worth it! A trip to the Waikiki Aquarium is so very worth it as well!

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17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sheila // Jan 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Awesome post and photos!

  • 2 Bobbie // Jan 25, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Another thing worth mentioning is the Waikiki Aquarium’s gift shop (called “Natural Selection,” I think). It’s one of the best gift shops in Honolulu, in my opinion, with lots of interesting items for tourists and local residents alike. And the proceeds help support the Aquarium.

    When we have visitors going to O’ahu, I always send them to the Aquarium — and to the giftshop. I’ve even recommended the giftshop to people who did not plan to visit the Aquarium, but who are looking for unique souvenirs of Hawaii. (Last time I was there, you could go into the giftshop without paying admission to the Aquarium.)

  • 3 Evelyn // Jan 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks, Sheila! I about flipped when I got them home.

    Bobbie, that is great advice and it’s certainly no surprise coming from you. I was thinking about you the whole time and hoping you would be around! I’ll keep that in mind about the shop. 🙂

  • 4 Beat of Hawaii // Jan 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Evelyn, I hate to admit it but I’ve never been to the Waikiki Aquarium. After reading your post I’m going to add it to my to do list. Thanks!

    I’m anxious to hear about your upcoming shark adventure. I had mine in October when I went to French Polynesia. The sharks were swimming next to me when I was snorkeling. So many emotions went through me…including an initial fear reflex!

    Bobbie, thanks for the gift shop recommendation.


  • 5 HawaiiVacationGifts // Jan 26, 2008 at 5:12 am

    Hi Evelyn,
    Mahalo for doing this post. It brought back so many happy memories for me as I used to go there often as a child and as an adult when I lived in Honolulu.

    The gift shop used to carry my handmade shaped beeswax honu, dolphin, and humpback whale candles which I don’t make anymore.

  • 6 Evelyn // Jan 26, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Rob, if you take in the educational materials along with the actual subjects, you will leave with a head full of information and even a different viewpoint of what we need to protect.

  • 7 Evelyn // Jan 26, 2008 at 9:31 am

    You know, HVG, I just can’t help but wonder how many times I have seen your products and just not known. Okay, this is a stretch, but… what about Woolworth? Did you sell to them too? Okay, I’m just pulling things from my memory. 🙂

  • 8 Webomatica // Jan 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Man, those pictures sure bring back some memories. I think once a year we went on a field trip to the Aquarium in school. I always had a fascination for the chambered nautalis because it looked so different from the other fish. More pics!

  • 9 Evelyn // Jan 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Oooohhh! Webomatica, I will try to get some chambered nautilus pics just for you! I’ll drop you a line when I’ve got them up! I promise! I would like to get more pics than what I have here… there’s more fascinating things there, for sure. 🙂

  • 10 Alison // Jan 30, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Great pictures, I really enjoyed them! I would definitely rather see things in an Aquarium, I just don’t do so well in the sea 😉

  • 11 Evelyn // Jan 30, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Well, Alison, you just need to come visit so we can take you swimming! 🙂 At least the sea water here is warmer than most places… it certainly is right now!

  • 12 Keoki // Jan 31, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Great post, great photos! We can warmly recommend to visit the Waikiki Aquarium when staying in Honolulu. We did it some years ago when we stayed at one of the Waikiki beach hotels. We had noticed it on one of our 6am power walks along Waikiki beach promenade – best time to get some exercise in before the heat of the day plus very peaceful! – and had a good time. One can never see and learn enough of these ocean creatures. Aloha, Keoki & Pua

  • 13 Evelyn // Jan 31, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Hiya Keoki! I’m glad you guys made it to the Aquarium and found it as fascinating as I do!

    You’re right, the promenade is very beautiful at sunset and sunrise.

    You’re right about the sea creatures too — it’s amazing to realize just what it is you’re swimming with!

  • 14 We’ve Got Us a Whale of a Carnival! // Feb 4, 2008 at 12:03 am

    […] in an effort to keep our focus on our marine friends, will wrap things up with how Waikiki Aquarium is a World All its Own, posted right here at Homespun Honolulu. That was quite a bit of reading! […]

  • 15 The Chambered Nautilus and the Blogosphere // Feb 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    […] writing a post about the Waikiki Aquarium, several people left comments about things they liked about the Aquarium or things that they […]

  • 16 Ryan // Nov 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Those are some really nice photos, great job with this post.

  • 17 Evelyn // Nov 28, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you, Ryan — for stopping by and for your comment. I was just in the mood to cover it well and actually ended up going twice!

    I see you’re covering Waikiki closely, that’s great! Please join us for the next Carnival of Aloha! I’ll keep you posted!

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