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Waikīkī Aquarium to Reopen in Time for Fourth of July Weekend

waikiki aquarium seahorse.jpg
Waikiki Aquarium/Facebook

After staying closed for about a year due to the pandemic, the Waikīkī Aquarium is set to reopen Thursday—just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online. Walk-ins are also available on a limited first-come, first-served basis, the aquarium said. Facial coverings will be required at all times for visitors over the age of two.

“We’re excited to finally be able to welcome guests back to our jewel of an aquarium,” said Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of the aquarium. “We were fortunate enough to survive through these hard times, and I am thankful that Waikīkī Aquarium can continue to spread its mission.”

Before the pandemic, the Waikīkī Aquarium relied on visitors and events to financially make ends meet. Although the aquarium is under the University of Hawaiʻi system, it is mostly a self-sufficient entity.

In normal times, it managed to either break even or turn a small profit from admissions, gift shop sales, and after-hours event rentals. But when the state locked down, the aquarium began depending on its reserves.

"We're bankrolling survival today, using the future of the aquarium," Rossiter said in September 2020. He was also in the process of applying for funding to renovate the aquarium.

These days the aquarium's finances are different.

"The money we were relying on for a renovation failed to materialize, but now the university is kindly getting involved. We're looking at doing more than the renovation, with a major construction project in the future," he said.

The project will include work on the lawn area to make room for new exhibits, an education center, lecture rooms, and facilities to modernize the aquarium, according to the aquarium.

Jaws Waikiki Aquarium Fish Dave Lawrence
Dave Lawrence
Jaws is a 7-year-old red-tailed black shark at the Waikiki Aquarium

Admission is $12 for visitors; $8 for local residents and active-duty military with ID; $5 for senior citizens and juniors ages four to 12; and free for children three and under and Friends of Waikīkī Aquarium (FOWA) members. The aquarium will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you do find yourself at the aquarium, keep a lookout for a red-tailed black shark named Jaws in exhibit 45. HPR's own Dave Lawrence raised Jaws until she was 2 years old. These days, the nearly 7-year-old fish swims her days at the Waikīkī Aquarium.

Lawrence says she's very easy to spot and he's thrilled to see her again after almost a year.

Sophia McCullough is HPR's digital news producer. Contact her at
Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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