6 Ways to Encounter Sharks

Author: Evan Pascual

For most people, encountering a shark face-to-face is not on the top of their list of things to do while swimming in the ocean. However, there is a tremendous upside in seeing these fascinating predators in person rather than on the TV or a movie theater screen. You may even begin to qualm any fears or debunk popular myths that you may have about sharks. With Discovery Channel’s Shark Week on the horizon, now is the perfect time to visit Maui Ocean Center to encounter sharks and learn about their true nature in our ocean ecosystem.

1. Nursery Bay – Shark Pups & Juvenile Rays

Nursery Bay

Presentations: 11:45am & 1:45pm (Daily)
At Maui Ocean Center, our outdoor Nursery Bay exhibit replicates the calm conditions that shark pups thrive in. Here you’ll find our youngest sharks and rays joined by schools of juvenile reef fish. If you upgrade to our Behind-the-Scenes Tour, you’ll have the rare opportunity to assist our marine naturalist with feeding the sharks and fish in this exhibit!

2. Deep Reef – Home of the Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark

Presentations: 10:15am, 12pm, and 3:15pm (Daily)
Enter the Living Reef building and descend to the Deep Reef exhibits, the final segment of the building dedicated to the deeper realm of Hawaii’s reefs. Here you’ll find six juvenile blacktip reef sharks diving between structures and gliding overhead like a squadron of fighter jets. These sharks are typically under one year of age and are released on an annual basis. Blacktips are one of the more commonly seen shark species in Hawaii and are quite docile, preferring to feed on small prey like crustaceans, fish, and sick or dying animals.

3. Open Ocean – An Immersive Experience


Presentations: 11am, 1pm, and 3pm (Daily)
We don’t pick favorites here at the Aquarium, but the Open Ocean exhibit is arguably the most popular, and rightfully so. This is our largest exhibit with 750,000-gallons of seawater, up to 20 sharks, rays, giant trevally, and the iconic walkthrough tunnel. You’re likely to encounter six shark species: blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, sandbar sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and on the many occasions, the revered tiger shark. There’s no other experience like it on Maui that puts you up-close with some of Hawaii’s largest marine predators. Swim by at 11am and 3pm for an underwater dive presentation with a chance to speak to our divers through the glass!

4. Shark Dive Maui – Maui’s Only Shark Dive Activity

Shark Dive Maui

Available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Looking to go beyond the glass? Maui Ocean Center’s Shark Dive Maui program allows you to enter the exhibit with our divers and experience a one-of-a-kind shark encounter! Shark Dive Maui was founded to create an educational and cultural experience to teach guests about the important role that sharks have in the marine ecosystem and Hawaiian culture. Every shark that is welcomed or released from Maui Ocean Center is blessed by Kahu Dane Maxwell, our Hawaiian Cultural Advisor, to ensure that these special animals are treated with the utmost respect and care. Learn more

5. Sleep with the Sharks – Fun for the Entire ‘Ohana

Sleep with the Sharks

Available on Select Dates
While shark dives are appropriate for ages 12 and up, our Sleep with the Sharks program offers private sleepover at the Aquarium for families with children. Explore the exhibits after dark as nocturnal animals come out from hiding and others retreat from sight and join our marine naturalists for a series of crafts and activities. When it’s lights out, dive into your sleeping bags and drift away to an undersea slumber in the Open Ocean or Sea Jelly exhibit. This is one of the rare opportunities to experience the Aquarium after dark! Learn more.

6. Sharks & Rays Explore Station

Explore Station

Available Sundays & Tuesdays in May from 11:30am-2:30pm
Elasmo-what? Elasmobranchs! That’s a fancy scientific way of saying sharks and rays, and it’s one of many interesting facts you can learn at our new Sharks & Rays Explore Stations. Hangout with our marine naturalists to learn about shark and ray anatomy, diet, behavior, and more.

Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, the presence of any specific animal cannot be guaranteed.

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