Ocean Park Manila
At the heart of the Philippines, Ocean Park Manila is one of the most tourist-visited sites in the city. Ocean Park’s picturesque aquariums and grandiose tanks attract a huge crowd, especially during the weekends. My family chanced upon Ocean Park Manila as a surprise, while we were thinking of a fitting place for our baby’s first road trip. We wanted to take our baby to the beach, but could not go to Matabungkay resorts like we used to, so we decided to hit Ocean Park Manila instead.
Ocean Park Manila is about an hour, or 22 kilometers away from Marikina, access roads you can take can either be via C5-Kalayaan-EDSA-Pasay, or via Aurora Blvd.-EDSA-Pasay. Ocean Park Manila is conveniently located in Roxas Boulevard, near the monumental Rizal Park. Once there, you can find a cosy spot to park – it's free, just be aware of your car, and your belongings.
From the parking lot, you'll still need to walk a couple of meters to the Ocean Park arena, where several restaurants (Pancake House and North Park, to name a few) are waiting to whet your appetites. You might also like to try the Bungee Jump first - just to heighten up the thrill!
Beginning the Ocean Park Adventure
Ocean Park Manila offers unique experiences for your families to try and enjoy: Aquanaut Voyage, Fish Spa, Glass Bottom Boat Ride, Jellies, Marine Life Habitat, Musical Fountain Show, Oceanarium, and Swimming and Fun.
Since we were travelling with a one-year-old tot, and two senior citizens - we chose the Oceanarium package. Park rates are pretty reasonable, since you will enjoy swimming with giant mantarays – sans water!:
- Php 400 per head for adults,
- Php 350 per head for children 4ft & below, and
- Free for children 2ft & below
The use of camcorders, digital cameras and photo-capturing devices are allowed in the Oceanarium – just be sure to go low on the flash feature. Please also avoid tapping the aquarium glasses, especially with hard items. Excessive sound and glaring light will scare the fishes away. Food and drinks are allowed, but be sure to throw your empty cups and bags responsibly.
By the Riverbend
We began our walk in AGOS (æ-gɔɪs), Manila Ocean Park’s freshwater aquarium. AGOS, meaning “to flow”, entrusts the welcome bidding to the great Pirarucu or Giant Arapaima.
My family and I walked into a cool garden and proceeded towards a wooden staircase that leads to the mighty Piranhas. I have always been fascinated by hanging vines, and their presence in the garden, along with a young croc, add a jungle-like mystique to these freshwater predators.
We treaded along the wooden trail and proceeded to a flight of stairs that lead to a huge, open tank of large Catfish.
Further down are the smaller fish species like the Black Ghost Knife fish and others I pray to have not noticed, since we were in the mouth of BAHURA.
Dipping in the Shoal
A shoal is a sandbank in a stretch of water that is visible at low tide. In Filipino, this is called “Bahura”. The BAHURA (bæ-hʊ-ræ) in Manila Ocean Park stages a wonderful array of colourful shallow water fish. We were greeted by displays of seahorse, stingray, and families of Nemo’s friend, Dori, the Blue Tang fish (trivial question: Is Nemo the most popular Clown Fish?).
We also found other interesting species like the Black and Gold Chromis, Pajama Cardinal Fish, Orbiculate Cardinal Fish and other beautiful reef fishes.
The last species of fish we saw in BAHURA – and my personal favourite – is the Spotted Garden Eel. They were shy and worm-like. They burrow their bodies in the sand when frightened, and then slowly dance upward, like a snake in trance. This small group of eels were fascinatingly simple, yet, they were the one lot in BAHURA which I’d dream about having as pets.
Floating in the LAOT
Welcome to the deep ocean! LAOT (læ-ɔɪt) – or “middle of the sea” in Filipino – showcases the huge, captivating species of fish only to be found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Manila Ocean Park gave visitors a breath-taking view of these species with massive tanks that give the impression that you are indeed, breathing amongst these giants.
The Giant Trevally and Grouper fish will greet you upon entering LAOT. These fish are extremely friendly, and exceptionally large! I take particular fondness for one of the grouper fish, whom I think liked my soft tapping and came nearer the glass enclosure – it even followed me for more pictures! I could’ve spent more time with my new grouper friend, but there were more fish to catch [up with, that is!].
Before we reached “Buhay Na Karagatan” our baby, too, made friends with a fish – I was not able to catch its name, but it was also the one of the more people-friendly fish.
Under the Sea
Manila Ocean Park’s BUHAY NA KARAGATAN (Living Ocean) boasts Asia's largest underwater viewing tunnel, stretching 25 meters long and curved at 220 degrees. Highlighting our long walk, the tunnel was promenaded by families like mine, and I found myself in the middle of a crowd of people, reef fish and huge mantarays. The experience remains unique and enthralling, the sight of gracefully swimming fish is ultimately soothing to one who is longing for serenity and balance.
Manila Ocean Park is a refreshing family getaway place. It’s all you need when you want to give your family a preview of the deep ocean diving experience.
Manila Ocean Park is located at the Quirino Grandstand, One Rizal Park, Luneta, Manila. For inquiries, call 02 567 7777 or log on to www.manilaoceanpark.com.
Posted by: Luzviminda Dy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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