Venues Venues Venues: Waikiki Aquarium


    In the last blog post, I promised to do a series on some special event venues, giving you all some insight into some of the available locations around town. Some are very well known, some not so much. By doing this I hope you’ll get a few things out of it. First, if it’s a place you already know, maybe you’ll get one or two little tidbits of new information about a place that you never knew. Second, if it’s a place you’ve never heard before, maybe it’ll be a place you want to hold your next event.

    So without further ado, here’s the Aquarium.

    The Waikiki Aquarium is owned by the University of Hawaii. As such, it is a state-run institution, and has a fairly stringent set of rules and regulations that each event must follow. The most crucial of those is the timeline that all must follow. Each event cannot start until after roughly 5:15pm… this means that no equipment, no staff, no catering, nothing can get set up beforehand (there’s a few exceptions to that rule, which I’ll talk about later, but for now, just know that almost nothing can be done beforehand). This usually limits events to being fairly simple (no big fancy decor or elaborate lighting packages… there just isn’t enough time to set it up!).

    Also, events must be completely off-property by 10:30pm. One minute late, and you are charged a hefty late fee. Again, this limits the amount of set up that can be done because even vendors must be totally cleared off by that time.

    This means that effectively, an event won’t actually start until about 6:30pm and must finish around 9:30pm in order to fit within the Aquarium time tables.

    There are also some housekeeping rules, like no open flame cooking on property, no glassware allowed on property, etc.

    But before I start sounding like Debbie Downer (did you watch the 40th Anniversary of SNL? Debbie Downer was funny, but my favorite was – and always will be – Jeopardy), there are some really nice features about the Aquarium.

    First, parking isn’t too bad. They are public meter parking all around the Aquarium, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to find. The lawn is usually well manicured and pretty spacious, with a perfect view of the Natatorium, and the rest of the Waikiki shoreline. Plus you’re at the Aquarium. My son LOVES fish, and the Aquarium keeps their exhibits open and accessible for guests enjoyment. They are super cool to walk through and check out the amazing marine life.

    I personally think the Aquarium works best for personal events (First birthday, graduation, reunion) or smaller, quick corporate events (like a Christmas party, ice breaker, college orientation event). It can accommodate up to as many as 500-600, but is probably ideal for around 150-250, with some food areas (buffet, bar, etc). It can be tented with up to a 40′ x 100′ (or even two 30×80′ tents), and if a rental company is quick, they can get quite a bit set up in that short time window. But they really have to know the venue well and be prepared to jam. That hour to set up goes by FAST!

    Now you may be asking, how do you set up tents that quick? Ah, the rub. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the start/end time rule does have an exception. Tents MUST be booked through the Aquarium directly. That is so they can contact the rental company themselves, and schedule the tent only (and lighting or draping in the tent) to be constructed earlier in the day, usually starting around 9:30am. The tent is also scheduled to be broken down the following day, again around 9:30am. This is how they can accommodate tented events. Again, all other equipment, even if it’s coming from the SAME rental company, must come at the normal setup time of 5:15pm.

    All in all, the Aquarium is a pretty good venue, assuming that your event will work within those time constraints. But feel free to check it out for yourself: