The Chinese New Year holiday gave us the opportunity to finally pursue our long overdue visit to Manila Ocean Park. We have long ago heard a lot of good words, most of it exciting, about Manila Ocean Park so we included it in our list of places to visit in the City of Manila. Thus, when Ynah saw discounted vouchers for sale at MetroDeal, she immediately booked for us. Going there is easy. We took a shuttle service bound for Buendia and got off at Luneta. This can be a good side trip as you can explore Luneta Park a bit before heading to Manila Ocean Park. But after a few photographs, we hurried away because it started to drizzle.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a throng of school children and their parents in long queues, patiently waiting to get inside the park. Now, it can get a bit chaotic here because there are no noticeable signs as to where to register/get tickets for walk-in guests or which window to redeem vouchers for tickets. Good thing Ynah was able to figure out which window to go to for those who have booked online. For those who booked online, one thing to remember is to bring an original print-out. Never present a photocopy of the printout as the ticket personnel will not honor it. We were given a string of tickets; each one will be presented to the respective station that you may wish to see.
Our first stop — the stingray pool. It was a shallow pool with see through fiber glass walls. You can see about 3 or 4 rays in it. With assistance from pool personnel, you may touch and stroke the animals briefly. I asked one of the personnel how they prevent the creatures from getting stressed. They said that the animals are rotated, meaning they get subbed, every 3 or 4 hours. Photographs are not allowed though but, should you wish to have your picture taken, the personnel will gladly do so for a fee.
Next destination was the bird station or the Birds of Prey Kingdom. It seemed out of place — birds in an oceanarium? That’s right! There is some kind of a bird show going on inside. The trainors will ask one of the guests to stand while the birds would hover near the person. Not really our favorite station so we immediately left after a few pictures.
Our most favorite attraction was the stunning oceanarium. It’s a walk through, providing an amazing view of a multitude of marine species. According to Manila Ocean Park’s website, this is home to 14,000 marine creatures from around 277 species, all indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. It further said that water is sourced from Manila Bay, filtered, of course, to make it suitable for the sea creatures.
Another favorite was the jellyfish station. It was an exhibit of different jellyfish species in a dark room, illuminated by colored lights which made the creatures appear like pulsating globes of light. Truly stunning.
The fish spa, surprisingly, was a relaxingly unique “treatment.” Soak your feet in a shallow pool filled with small fishes and watch (and feel) them nibble away dead skin cells off your feet. The feeling of little mouths feasting on our feet initially felt ticklish but soon felt good when we got used to it.
There are stations, however, wherein you would wish that there were more animals like the penguin station. The penguins, by the way, look pitiful. They need real snow and ice as playground!
There were also sea lion and bird shows but these were just short intermission numbers.
Capping the whole experience was the light, water, fire and air show at around 6:30 PM. This one was breathtaking and professionally-executed.
All in all, the whole Manila Ocean Park tour was still a fun experience. Seeing many sea creatures up close and personal was an enjoyable experience that incited that child-like awe from us. This is a highly-recommended destination for schools as children will surely enjoy seeing the sea animals while learning at the same time.