Coral World To Open Ocean Center

Reed Travel Features

MAALAEA, Hawaii -- The Maui Ocean Center, a marine park at Maalaea, will open by mid-February, developer Coral World International announced. Construction started on the $20 million, five-acre attraction last February.

The attraction, which will be the sixth aquarium built by Coral World, based in Ramat Gan, Israel, will be the centerpiece of the planned Maalaea Harbor Village, an 18-acre commercial development. The development, also under construction, will include shops, restaurants, activities and services. The site is between Honoapiilani Highway, the route between Central and West Maui, and Maalaea Boat Harbor.

Benjamin Kahn, Coral World president, said the marine park will be a "truly Hawaiian aquarium, where visitors can explore the marine environment surrounding the Hawaiian Islands." Kahn, based on Maui for the past three years, added that, because of the company's experience in developing similar marine attractions, it can produce the center less expensively than other marine parks proposed for Hawaii.

Maui Ocean Center's components will include:

* The Reef Building, divided into three areas, featuring shallow, middle and deep marine life, each with one large tank and smaller tanks.

* The Pelagic Building, containing a 750,000-gallon tank featuring sharks and other marine life, with visitors walking through a see-through acrylic tunnel. The building also will feature the Whale Discovery Center, with models of the humpback whale and interactive displays.

* Outdoor pools, including a reef surge, touch, turtle and ray pools. For dining, the Seascape Cafe and Bar -- three adjoining oceanview pavilions -- will hold 150 people and be available for evening functions. Light lunches and snack items will be served at the Reef Cafe in a courtyard in the center of the park.

The center is planning a shuttle service from West and South Maui resorts. Admission will be $17 for adults and $12 for children ages 3 to 14. The center will be open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Coral World opened its first facility in Eilat, Israel, 25 years ago. Others owned by the company are in Sydney and Perth, Australia. For further information, agents can call Maui Ocean Center at (808) 875-1962; fax (808) 874-5963.

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