Sea Life Park's new luau rated 'top quality'

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WAIMANALO, Hawaii - No argument here. The new tourist luau at Sea Life Park on Oahu is the only luau in the world to feature a baby wholphin.

Right off the bat, a wholphin - in the park but not yet in the dictionary - is a cross between a dolphin and a false killer whale.

Actually, the baby is now only one-quarter whale, since her mother was the world's first wholphin, born in Sea Life Park in 1985. Her father was the whale, her mother an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.

Strictly speaking, the wholphins, dolphins, whales, seals, turtles, penguins and other marine creatures at Sea Life Park do not actually appear on stage or in the audience at the luau. But as part of the program, luau guests visit them and see a sea-life show before they move on to the nearby stage and tables set outdoors in an area of the park called the Meadows.

From then on, the show is the tried-and-true luau, but one of the better examples of the species. The Polynesian music and dance show is by Tihati, a local production company which has been doing this kind of thing for 30 years. The food, both Hawaiian and haole (non-Hawaiian) comes from Sea Life Park's own kitchens, and veteran luau watchers (including this reporter) rated it top quality.

Dances, music and costumes represent styles from several Pacific islands at Sea Life Parks luau.The buffet includes sashimi, lomi lomi salmon, tako poke, tofu with shoyu ginger, potato/macaroni salad, cucumber/tako namasu, teriyaki beef, grilled mahi-mahi, kalua pig, laulau, poi, chicken long rice, yakisoba, Hawaiian sweet potato, haupia and assorted cakes and pies. Two drinks are included in the price.

As light fades over the nearby ocean, the audience experiences dances, music and costumes representing styles from several Pacific islands. The show also includes a fire dancer, and even one comic hula performed by a 4-year-old member of the troupe. Volunteers from the audience are also coaxed on stage to try to learn the hula.

Sea Life Park has had several owners and managers since it opened in 1964. Most recently owned by a New York investment company, it was taken over in January by Dolphin Discovery, the company that operates several marine-oriented parks in the Caribbean and in Mexico, notably Xcaret on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The owners have been implementing several changes and improvements in the facility over the past six months and have indicated more are on the way.

Basic all-included prices for the evening luau are adults, $83.33, juniors (4 through 12), $50. There are discounted prices for military personnel. Transportation from Waikiki is available for $12. All tickets to the luau include admission passes to the park, which are good for up to 30 days.

Sea Life Park and the luau are commissionable to agents who call Atlantis Adventures at (808) 973-9805.

Sea Life Park is near the extreme eastern end of Oahu, about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki. For more information about the park, or to make reservations, phone (808) 259-7933. The park's Web site is at www.sealifeparkhawaii.com.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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