What if I told you there was a place where you could come face to face with enormous stingrays, curious sea turtles, and formidable sharks— all without stepping foot in the ocean?

Maui Ocean Center Guide

That place is the Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea, the largest aquarium in Hawaii. And within its walls, you’ll find dozens of spellbinding exhibits— from Hawaiian cultural displays to glow-in-the-dark jellyfish rooms.

Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea

Ready to make the most of your visit to the Maui Ocean Center?

Here’s all you need to know about Maui’s epic aquarium in 2023.


1. Maui Ocean Center Tickets Must Be Purchased Online.

The first thing you need to know before enjoying the Maui Ocean Center: buy your tickets online in advance! Pre-pandemic, you could purchase tickets at the front gate. But today, it’s recommended to buy tickets two weeks in advance. Purchase tickets here.

Maui Ocean Center entrance

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2. Get There Before 3:30 pm!

Park hours are 9 am to 5 pm, with the last entry at 3:30 pm. General admission ticket holders can enter the park any time before 3:30 pm.

Ocean Center Maui

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3. Give Yourself 2 To 2.5 Hours To Explore The Aquarium.

You could easily spend a half day exploring the aquarium’s every nook and cranny. But for most visitors, two hours is plenty of time to comb over the Maui Ocean Center’s three-acre facility.

Maui aquarium

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4. The Maui Ocean Center Has One Of The Largest Living Tropical Reef Collections In The World.

The Maui Ocean Center has been successfully raising and caring for Hawaiian coral colonies since 1998. Here you can safely get up close and personal with over 40 different Hawaiian coral species.

tropical reef fish

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5. You Can See Humpback Whales At The Maui Ocean Center… Sort Of.

The Maui Ocean Center overlooks Maalaea Bay, and you can spot humpback whales splashing offshore all winter long. But to really get acquainted with these gentle giants, stop by MOC’s Humpbacks of Hawaii Sphere.

3D Movie Theater

This planetarium-like sphere features a 3D film about Hawaiian humpback whales. The astonishing footage was captured in and around Maui’s waters and virtually brings you eye-to-eye with massive humpback whales. The film runs every 30 minutes from 10 am to 4 pm.

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6. You Can Walk Through The Aquarium’s Largest Tank In A Clear Tunnel.

The 35-foot-long acrylic tunnel that runs through MOC’s Open Ocean exhibit is one of the aquarium’s biggest attractions. The tunnel cuts through a 750,000-gallon tank filled with enormous stingrays, giant trevallies, and several different species of sharks. Watch these pelagics glide overhead as you cruise through the tunnel.

shark tunnel

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7. The Maui Ocean Center Isn’t Just For Kids.

If you’re worried that the MOC might be too keiki-oriented for your liking, rest assured the aquarium is entertaining for all ages. The ocean center features fascinating cultural and historical exhibits— like the bombing of Kahoolawe— and boasts shopping, restaurants, and a bar. And it’s impossible not to be fascinated by Hawaiian marine life!

aquarium exhibits

Maalaea Shopping and Restaurants

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8. You Can Swim With Sharks At Maui Ocean Center

Calling the daring few… you can go on a shark dive in Maui Ocean Center’s Open Ocean tank. Accompanied by an aquarium dive master, you’ll descend into the 750,000-gallon tank to swim with over 20 sharks, hundreds of fish, and rays. This experience is designed to help cultivate respect and understanding for sharks. All divers must present proof of scuba certification to participate.

swim with sharks in Maui

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9. Visitors Can Enjoy Daily Presentations And Feedings Around The Aquarium

Daily presentations, feedings, and “edutainment” opportunities are hosted around the aquarium daily. You can weave fishnets and talk story with Hawaiian cultural practitioners, observe a fascinating black tip reef shark feeding, or watch as a diver descends into the depths of the open ocean tank. Ask a friendly MOC employee about presentations on the day of your visit.

Daily presentations

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10. The Maui Ocean Center Is Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary In 2023!

The Maui Ocean Center has inspired and educated visitors since its inception in 1998. This year, the center is celebrating 25 years of ocean education and preservation. Celebratory events will be held throughout 2023. Be sure to check Maui Ocean Center’s social media channels for celebration updates!

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Mahalo for reading!

We hope to see you here on Maui soon, enjoying the island’s incredible marine life. And remember Ali’i Resorts is Maui’s go-to resource for South Maui condo rentals. We have an awesome inventory of condos in North Kihei, just minutes from the Maui Ocean Center.