Ever since I was a child I thought about seahorses as mythical creatures that look like dragons and whose males become pregnant. When I found out that you can see and hold these animals yourself as part of a seahorse farm tour here on the Big Island I got really excited!
The Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm just north of Kailua Kona organizes tours of their seahorse farm that last an hour and include holding a seahorse. Did you know that their neighbors organize octopus farm tours and a coral lab tour?
Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Tour Details
Tours are available Monday through Friday 3 times a day (10 am, noon and 2 pm) during high season, fewer times during low season.
The tour takes between 1 and 1.5 hours and lets you see baby seahorses, pregnant males, and leafy and weedy sea dragons. They also have an aquarium where more than half the worlds 36 species of seahorses are on display, an interactive tide pool and a fish feeding station for the children.
All tours are led by a professional and certified Biologist that has been trained in public speaking. You can read more about the tour on the ocean rider website.
Tickets for the tours can be bought online or by phone. See their website for details.
How to get to the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
The Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is located 5 minutes south of the Kona airport, at Keahole point. Take the exit for the “Natural Energy Lab” about one mile south of the Kona airport exit.
The road you need to turn in to is called Makako bay drive, and there is large white scaffolding with solar panels visible at the exit.
The address where they give the tours (for use with GPS) is: 73-4388 Ilikai Place, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA.
Octopus farm tours!
There is an octopus farm half a mile north of the seahorse farm: the Kanaloa Octopus farm. Kanaloa is technically a “cephalopod aquaculture research facility” which means you’ll get to learn cool science-y stuff! During the tour you will learn about octopuses (or is it octopi?), and see them up close and interact with them in their tank. All octopi on the farm are brought in by local fishermen, so they are basically rescues :D.
More information on the octopus farm website.
If you are planning to visit the both the octopus farm and the seahorse farm together it is very important to do so in the following sequence:
- First stop: the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
- Second stop: the Kanaloa Octopus farm
If you visit the octopus farm first you will not be allowed on the seahorse farm tour due to bio-security concerns.
Coral lab tours (by the Legacy Reef Foundation)
The Legacy Reef Foundation organizes tours at their facility two days per week that include a lecture by a marine scientist and a tour of their coral lab. The tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and you’ll get to learn all about coral – what it is, where it lives, how it feeds, the problems it’s currently dealing with in our oceans and what you can do to help.
More information at the Legacy Reef Foundation website.