101 Things to Do (Maui) - - Essential Maui -

Lo­cated at Ma‘alaea Har­bor Vil­lage just off Honoapi‘ilani High­way be­tween Kahu­lui and La­haina, the $20 mil­lion MAUI OCEAN CEN­TER is de­signed to draw visi­tors s in through a se­ries of morere than 60 IN­DOOR-AND-OUT­DOOR EX­HIBITS that twist and wind their way through an im­pres­sive ar­ray of living coral reef. Aptly named “THE HAWAI­IAN AQUAR­IUM,” this state-of-theart marine park is ded­i­cated to fos­ter­ing an un­der­stand­ing and re­spect for Hawai‘i's boun­ti­ful marine life. The cen­ter was also a TOP-RATED at­trac­tion on VI­A­TOR (a TRIPAD­VI­SOR com­pany) this year. Its LIVING REEF ex­hibit fea­tures the largest col­lec­tion of live coral on dis­play in the na­tion, while other dis­plays and ed­u­ca­tional tours showcase the lan­guage, his­tory and lore of the Hawai­ian Islands.

The ocean cen­ter's marine col­lec­tion has been en­tirely as­sem­bled from Hawai­ian Islands' wa­ters. GREEN SEA TUR­TLES— part of a hatch-and-re­lease pro­gram— even­tu­ally are re­turned to the ocean. The en­chant­ing 750,000-gal­lon

OPEN OCEAN ex­hibit can be likened to stand­ing in a giant fish­bowl—with thou­sands of fish swirling around you. De­signed to sim­u­late a walk in the ocean, the ex­hibit fea­tures a 52-foot long, 4-inch thick, 240-de­gree, seethrough acrylic tun­nel. It is not un­com­mon for visi­tors of all ages to press their faces to the sides of the tun­nel, or lay their bod­ies flat on the floor, just for a bet­ter view of the crea­tures of the deep.

If you have an urge to dive with sharks, stingrays and other trop­i­cal reef fish, the ocean cen­ter's SHARK DIVE MAUI pro­gram can oblige. Divers must carry a scuba-cer­ti­fied card and be at least 15 years old. The cen­ter pro­vides the air tank and weight belts; the re­str of the gear— wet­suit,wetsu mask, un­der­wa­ter cam­era,cam etc.—is up to you.

Ex­pect to stay at the ocean cen­ter for about two hours. DIGITALD AU­DIO GUIDES are avail­able, and natu nat­u­ral­ists are stand­ing by to ans an­swer ques­tions and give pre­sen­ta­tions, which oc­cur reg­u­larly through­out the aquar­ium. RESTAU­RANTS also are on prop­erty, as is a GIFT SHOP. The Maui Ocean Cen­ter is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,

of­fers plenty of free park­ing, and is hand­i­cap-ac­ces­si­ble through­out.

MAUI OCEAN CEN­TER (808) 270-7000

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