Sea Life Park | Great Family Activity for Young Kids | Oahu Hawaii

We have been to Sea Life Park a few times now. We were lucky enough to snag an annual membership for the entire family, less than the price of normal tickets, for Black Friday. Since the park is supposed to focus on educational and interactive programs, I figured it would be a great unschooling adventure for the family.  

When you first get to the park, you walk down a paved area that spirals down around a large tank. Here you will find Shark, Manta Ray, and other large native Hawaiian fish.

We take our time in this area as the park is small and the kids could sit and watch the sharks swim by all day. Most of the sharks in here are quite beat up and have noticeable deformities. As you will find with most of the animals through Sea Life Park.

unschooling field trip to sea life park, girl looking at shark, oahu hawaii family activity with children, bold image
“Mano” is the Hawaiian word for shark, and they are considered one of the protectors of the islands. 
During our visit we learned that the park is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, and that most of the animals are on a quick heal and release rotation. That changed my outlook entirely and made me feel much better about the park.

The tanks are small and seem a bit run down for the price of the park and extra exhibits. But during both of my visits the animals seemed well- loved and cared for.

penguin and trainer at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
Aloha can mean both hello, goodbye and love, but can also be used to convey kindness, mercy, and compassion.

After you leave the shark area you come to the turtle tank. At certain times of the day you can purchase a small cup of vegetables to feed the large honu. There seem to be a lot of turtles in such a small area, but the tank seemed maintained and it was a thrill for the children to feed them.

sea turtle honu at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life.

I would recommend snorkeling along the islands for a natural experience with these amazing creatures. You can read my post about our favorite snorkeling spot for children at Hanauma Bay here.

sea turtle honu at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
The Honu can show its form in that of a guardian spirit, or Amakua

The Bird Sanctuary is The Best Spot in Sea Life Park

My kids absolutely loved the bird sanctuary here at Sea Life Park. It is a medium size enclosure that has hundreds of different kinds of birds (mainly lovebirds ands cockatiels) flying free. They have honey and bird feed sticks you can hold so they will eat, quite literally, right out of your hands.

bird sanctuary at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
 E ʻai kākou or Let’s eat! in the Hawaiian Language

As someone who has been bit by one of these little rascals (right on the nose!!) I was super nervous to go in here with the kids. But that is why I love being a mother and adventuring with my children. They get me out of my comfort zone. We can start small with bird sanctuaries. I am sure it will only get worse as they get older!

Luckily for me these guys were very relaxed and used to people roaming their environment, sticking there hands in their little bird faces.

Cooper even got lucky and had a lovebird become his BFF for the day. Willow was extremely jealous, but try as she might, she couldn’t get a bird to ride on her head.

bird sanctuary at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii, unschooling, world schooling
Just call this guy Hei Hei !!
Heihei” in Hawaiian means ‘disturbance’ or an ‘interruption from the norm.’

Another great spot in Sea Life Park is the Discovery Reef Touch Pool

unschooling children at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii

Here the kids can touch and feed a number of fish and even watch a shark feeding. Just walk up and grab a piece of lettuce to get the fish to come over!

It can get a little crowded as this part is only open a few times through the day. It is a worthwhile spot to visit though. My husband may have enjoyed this part of Sea Life Park the best. But he’s a fish lover.

The Dolphin Show

We enjoyed seeing the dolphins and the kids loved how smart they were. Seeing them talk and wave were a joy but the real fun was when they would throw their trainers out of the water and take them around the tank.

dolphin show at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii
The Hawaiian name for dolphin is nai’a

They even introduced a one of a kind dolphin and whale hybrid, what they called a Wholphin! I really wish I would have paid more attention to this as it was fascinating. As intrigued as I was, I only caught about half of her presentation. Kids always pick the perfect time to need something.

The only thing that threw me off about this was how lonely she seemed. She was kept separate from the other dolphins and when we walked by her tank she swam in circles peeking her head up at the other tanks every time she went by.

dolphin swimming at sea life park, family activities with young kids, travel oahu hawaii
Nai’a at Sea Life Park

Did I depress you? Sorry about that. Zoo’s and Aquariums always seem to do that to me too.

But nevertheless, we had a great experience with the kids here. They were able to learn quite a bit about the animals and we loved the interactive parts. We watched seal shows, learned about the native marine life and I got to talk to the kids about animal treatment, what they thought of how Sea Life Park handled it, and how they would do it differently. Deep stuff.

There is even a little playground in the center of the park. And You Know the kids gravitated to it off and on and over and over again.

There is so much more you can do here for additional charges that we haven’t done yet. You can swim with and feed the dolphins in their tanks. Feed the monk seals, and more.

For food their is a little outdoor restaurant called Pinky’s that seems to have hosted a multitude of a famous people, as their pictures adorn all the walls. They serve the typical eats like burgers and hot dogs, beer and other beverages.

We pack a lunch most times or go to one of our favorite spots down the road BYO Bowls.

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Have you been to Sea Life Park? What is a favorite marine animal experience you have had?