Wide-eyed in Maalaea: A hammerhead shark patrols the Maui Ocean Center.
Ever dreamed of coming face-to-face with a tiger shark? How about in the water, sans shark cage? If you're a scuba-certified diver you can do just that—for a price—in the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit at Hawaii's Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea near Wailuku. (Call ahead for reservations and details.) But for all of us who would just as soon stay dry when going eye-to-eye with denizens of the deep, a 54-foot-long acrylic tunnel offers a stunning 240-degree view of the tank's several shark species and several hundred wildly colored fish.
Some 60 other exhibits are open to visitors—the aquarium is the islands' largest—including a sanctuary for juvenile hammerhead sharks, slices of life in a coral reef, and interactive displays that trace the Pacific humpback whales' 3,000-mile migration from Alaska to Hawaii. Naturalists are on hand to answer questions, and audio guides are available to rent. Information: (808) 270-7000, www.mauioceancenter.com.
Photography by Leonardo Olmi
This article was first published in November 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.