The Manila Ocean Park is a seaworld, where kids and adults are treated with the sights of different marine animals (think of Ark Avilon Zoo, but all sea creatures). When you hear “seaworld,” you think of Seaworld in Orlando, Ocean Park in Hongkong and, in the Philippines, Ocean Adventure in Subic. Unlike those destinations, however, Manila Ocean Park is located in the heart of Metro Manila, so it should be easily accessible (rates are P400 for adults and P350 for kids). And unlike those destinations, the Manila Ocean Park has no shows like the whale and sea lion shows (although these shows may come later, as the Manila Ocean Park is still unfinished). There’s something, however, that makes up for that. [See also Trails to Antarctica, Penguin Exhibit and Snow Village, Manila Ocean Park]
We have been putting off our trip to Manila Ocean Park for more than a month. We would have loved to be among the first to go, but since long lines are expected with newly-opened establishments, we decided to wait until the lines aren’t that long. So, today, a Sunday, we decided to go (there are so many long weekends to choose from, by the way).
The Manila Ocean Park opens at 10:00 in the morning, so getting there earlier means no hassle in looking for the perfect parking space and no falling in line. There are two parking areas: one beside the Manila floating hotel, right after the Manila Hotel, while the other is near the restaurants (Manila Harbor, Pantalan, etc.).
You may also want to leave your water and food at home because, just like Enchanted Kingdom, food and water are not allowed unless bought inside.
You should have no problem getting there because the Manila Ocean Park is surrounded by so many landmarks. It’s just behind the Quirino Granstand. It’s at the other side of the Rizal Park (also known as Luneta, where the statue of the national hero, Jose Rizal, is found). There are two points of entry: one at the intersection of the Manila Hotel and the other at the intersection where the Museo Pambata is found. It is under 5 minutes from the US Embassy, Baywalk and the Manila Yacht Club. See map and directions.
I must say that the highlight of the Manila Ocean Park trip is what I’d like to call the “sea tunnel”. It’s a thick glass tunnel underneath the huge aquarium. You feel you’re under the sea, without Sebastian or Ariel. Not good for a claustrophobic. The view is great, which is the “something” that I mentioned earlier that should make up for the lack of whale or sea lion shows.
But I’m going ahead of myself. Let’s go back. See map and directions.
The first part of the tour is called Agos, which is an open area with plant-filled high walls (except that the plants are newly planted), with a waterfall. At the top of the high walls are thick wires running from one end to the other, which gives the eerie feeling of being in one of the dinosaur cages of Jurassic Park. Here you’ll be greeted, not by a T-Rex, but by giant fish like the Giant Arapa–something. There’s the Electric Eel (I was tempted to ask for a demonstration if it’s really an electric eel). There’s a statue that seems to be out of place, though. I believe it’s a fertility statue, which looks like the one found in one of the Boracay islands. I don’t know why it’s at the Manila Ocean Park, but I know for sure that the nuns who were with us didn’t get their photos taken with the statue.
It’s hot at the open Agos section and you’ll let out a sigh of relief upon entering the next section, which is air-conditioned. Here you’ll find the Pajama Cardinalfish, which is only one of the types of fish that I’m still trying to figure out how they got their names. There’s the Titan Triggerfish, which I include here because it has a cool name. There’s the Longhorn Cowfish (a yellow fish with long horns, but doesn’t look like a cow) and Hispid Frogfish (which doesn’t look like a frog), both weird-looking fish. There’s the Giant Spider Crab, which, as its name suggests, is huge, and looking at it feels like watching a movie about aliens. There’s the Longfin Bannerfish, with its lovely strips, and the Spotted Garden Eel, which hides itself by burying half of its body in the sand.
There’s Convict Blenny (which appears to be wearing the old black-striped prison uniform), guarded by the Sergeant Major (no, I’m not kidding, the Convict Blenny is also a fish). There’s the Featherstar, starfish and anemone. When you say anemone, what comes to mind? Ah, clownfish. Nemo, the most famous clownfish, and his father’s sidekick, Dory, are also at Manila Ocean Park.
There’s a restaurant (Ozeano), which is right after the Fish Spa (perhaps you’re wondering if they massage a fish at the Fish Spa). Other fastfood stores, like Chowking, are still in the process of construction. But I guess I’m yapping too much. Just take time out to bring your kids to Manila Ocean Park. My son had a great time and I was surprised to hear him say new words, which we didn’t teach him, like a panda (the logo of the WWF, which is a partner of the Manila Ocean Park), as well as other familiar names like seahorse, turtle, shark, whale and stingray. There are other photos and videos of different kinds of fish, but we can’t upload everything here. So just go and enjoy.