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Manila Ocean Park: Is It Still Worth Visiting?

by Trisha Descallar

Manila Ocean Park first opened its doors in 2008 to a lot of excitement and fanfare.

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Since then, it has become a testament to the constantly elevating and evolving scene of local tourism, and is now a substantial part of the Manila tourist landscape. The question now is: Is it still worth visiting, ten years down the line?

To answer that, here's a list of all the things you can see and do at Manila Ocean Park.

Oceanarium

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The Oceanarium is the signature exhibit of the Manila Ocean Park, a large walk-through that houses 277 species of marine life in 3,000 cubic meters of seawater filtered from Manila Bay. All marine life in the aquarium is indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Take your time; 14,000 sea critters are swimming around and above you. This is also where you take your “I’ve-been-to-Manila-Ocean-Park” profile picture—you know the one, that dark silhouette from behind and the soft blue backdrop of water and sea life.

Jellies Exhibit

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Another option for the ‘gram is the Jellies Exhibit. Come here to escape the humidity of the mostly outdoor park. The Jellies Exhibit features calming music and softly pulsating lighting that bring out the magical, fairy-like qualities of these fascinating sea creatures. It’s ethereal and super trippy.

Trails To Antarctica: The Penguin Quest

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Filipinos love snow and Christmas. It’s no surprise, then, that Manila Ocean Park combines the love for these two in the Trails To Antarctica: The Penguin Quest exhibit. Suit up in heavy jackets, just like Arctic explorers, and waddle your way through an educational exhibit on Humboldt penguins. The experience culminates in a kitschy winter wonderland playground, where photo ops abound.

The Barnyard and The Birdhouse

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Though the sea and surf take center stage at Manila Ocean Park, fur and feathers have since become major attractions, too. The Barnyard and The Birdhouse feature farm animals, like chickens, and household pets like budgies, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters. They’re all adorable, and yours for the petting. You can buy a bag of feed for P50 and let them nibble from your hand.

Day Show: All-Star Bird Show

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If you’re tired from all the walking, let the birds do all the talking... and the flipping and the flying and whatever trick they have up their feathered sleeves. The All-Star Bird Show features cockatoos, macaws, and eagles showing off their smarts. Check the daily show schedules so you can plan your visit accordingly.

Tour: Back of The House

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everyone at some point in life had dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Manila Ocean Park’s Back of The House tour is a way to live that experience and exercise the science part of the brain, if only for an hour or so. This attraction is not as flashy or as glamorous as the others, but it does entertain by educating.

Experiences: Mermaid Swims, Sharks and Rays, Sea Lions Training

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Manila Ocean Park can be enjoyed and experienced upright and on land, with only the clothes you came in. But for those who have time, money, and energy to spare, Manila Ocean Park offers more in-depth experiences that involve getting wet in the water.

The Mermaid Swim will have you swimming in fins with the use of an elastic mermaid tail for all those Ariel-inspired ambitions. The Sharks and Rays Encounter will find you in a wetsuit, tamed sharks and stingrays within arm’s reach. If you’ve ever wanted to be a Sea Lion Trainer, Manila Ocean Park lets you do just that, hand gestures for showmanship tricks and all. Each experience is 45 minutes long, with shower access and a photo op.

Super Toy Collection and Ball Pit

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Manila Ocean Park primarily appeals to kids, but they’ve recently expanded to kids-at-heart as well. The Super Toy Collection is an exhibit of life-sized statues of various cartoon characters and superheroes from the childhood of a '90s baby for goofy group shots galore.

There’s also a ball pit, so if you want to expend more energy there, it’ll cost you an additional P150 for 30 minutes of play and a complimentary cup of coffee. Usually, it’s the children in the ball pit while their parents avail of the coffee, but since you’re a millennial, you can have both.

Neon Cars

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You can’t get more millennial than an exhibit made exclusively for Instagram. As the sun sets, Manila Ocean Park lights up their fleet of Neon Cars. These Volkswagen-inspired pedal cars are lined with neon LED ropes, each with a local motif, perfect for selfies that are literally #LitAF. Each car is equipped with speakers, where you’re encouraged to blast your Spotify playlist of choice. Story your heart away while singing along to your favorite mid-2000s jams in this attraction.

Night Show: Symphony

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If you started with the Oceanarium, you have to end with the Symphony. There’s something so inherently whimsical about musical fountain shows, and with its elemental special effects and multimedia projections, Symphony is always a pleasure.

The Verdict

So, yes, if you’ve never been, or haven’t been in a while, a trip to Manila Ocean Park is still worth taking. Make your way to Manila, and find the park just behind the Quirino Grandstand. End your day out with a nightcap at the nearby White Moon Bar or make a full staycation out of it by checking in at Hotel H2O.

You can buy your tickets online or upon arrival. However, it’s highly advisable to call the aquarium before your trip. Standard maintenance and renovation happen all year round in various sections of the park, so if you have your heart set on specific attractions, call first to confirm if what you want to see is open to the public during your visit. It also pays to check the Manila Ocean Park website for package deals available exclusively online to those who reserve in advance.

Water you waiting for? Sea you there!

Manila Ocean Park
666, Behind Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila
(02) 567 7777 loc 118, 119, 123, 143
Official Website

Operating Hours:
Mondays - Sundays
10:15 AM - 3:30 PM

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About Trisha
When she’s not obsessively feeding her Hobonichi Techo with stickers by local indie artists or yelling about her undying love for Star Trek Voyager on Twitter, Trisha Descallar spends many hours enjoying her work as a social media content creator, digital marketing consultant, and niche event organizer.

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