Sea Life Park – Oahu, Hawaii – Dolphins, Sea Lions, and Sharks – Oh My!

Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu in Hawaii is a must see destination for families with young children. We loved it. Open 7 days a week with tickets starting at $25 and offering reasonably priced specialty programs like dolphin encounters, educational programs, and more. Sea Life Park is located on the South Shore near Makapu’u Point.

I grew up in California during the 1970s and 1980s. We went to zoos, circuses, wildlife safari parks, and rode around in the back of pick-up trucks when driving to huge water parks. We also went to Sea World and Marine World and as a child – there are few memories that can compare with watching a show with the Orcas Kandu and Shamu (not the original Shamu, but a different Shamu) – I know that the view on keeping whales and other animals in captivity has changed – and I get it – but those memories were profound and life changing. Wildlife parks of both the marine and land based types – gave me a deep love of animals and ecology. I’m happy that Sea Life Park, here on Oahu, offers me the chance to share that with my daughter. No, there are no whale shows – there is no Free Willy or Feel Bad situation, but there are dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks and more. The entry fee is a very reasonable amount – and the shows were fun (even if a little hokey). Sea Life Park was a hit with us. Most importantly, our 6-year-old left with that same excitement I remembered from visiting those 1970s and 1980s California adventure parks.

 

Jurassic Park Movie Tour at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu

 

People seem surprised that when we have time off,  we choose to do tourist activities in Hawaii. People expect I want to get away from tourism but the truth is – I generally like tourists, I like tourism, and I like tourist activities. The reason people come on vacation and do this stuff is because it is fun.

Back in 2003, I worked as a guide for Kauai Movie Tours. It was a fun job. I knew that taking a movie tour on Oahu would be fun too.

Kualoa Ranch is 4000+ acres on the windward side of Oahu – it was gifted to Doctor Garret P Judd  by King Kamehameha V during the Kingdom of Hawaii period. The ranch remains in the same family, still has about 500 head of cattle and engages in some agriculture – but mostly, it’s a super awesome theme park with ziplines, horseback riding, snorkel tours, and movie tours. We plan on doing everything there eventually but this time we did the movie tour with George ( @ZenTourGuide ) as our guide. He was great – you should take his tour.

And hey…don’t forget to tip your guide. We watched the majority of people leave the tour bus without giving him a dollar. Guides survive on tips and work hard to make sure you have a good time…appropriate tips for guides are 20% or more of total cost for an outstanding guide, 10-15% for an average to good guide, 5% if you have no complaints but can’t say anything really good, and no tip if they aren’t at least trying to be friendly. Like a great guide, George thanked everyone with a sincere smile and warm aloha whether they tipped or not – but come on folks….I know Hawaii vacations aren’t cheap but $20 isn’t going to break you.

Some of the movies and TV shows filmed on Kualoa Ranch include the Jurassic Park franchise, Lost, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 5-0, 50 First Dates, Kong Skull Island, Journey to the Mysterious Island, Godzilla, and much more. It’s a great tour and we’ve been enjoying watching the movies since taking the tour. I won’t spoil the tour by telling you more – you should check it out.

 

The Lowdown:

Address: 49–560 Kamehameha Highway, Kaaawa 96730, USA
Hours: Open daily, closed Christmas and New Year’s Day
Admission: From US$21

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