Mokupapapa Discovery Center was opened in May 2003 as a place where the public can visit and learn more about the natural science, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. There are interactive displays and three-dimensional models which allow visitors to experience the ocean and marine environment of the area.
The center is a 4,000 square foot facility that is free for the public to visit. There is a 2,500 gallon salt water aquarium at the center which provides a habitat for the fishes from the northwestern island reefs. There is an alcove next to the aquarium which is modeled on the Undersea Research Lab's Pisces V submersible. Visitors can use robot arms to experience descending into the depths of the ocean.
There are interpretive graphic panels located at the entrance of the center which introduce visitors to the geography, history and ecology of the islands. These panels feature Hawaiian and English language; there are also many photographs of the island throughout the center along with a large mural of a giant coral reef which covers an entire wall in the main exhibit hall.
Visitors need to keep their eyes open and look up or in corners for life-size models of animals that are found on the islands such as the giant manta ray which hangs over the entry door along with tiger and Galapagos sharks. There is a mini-theatre which features a video of the Kumulipo which is a Hawaiian creation chant.
The aim of Mokupapapa Discovery Center is to teach visitors about the history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and for them to learn ways to help preserve the marine life of the islands for many generations to come. School and community groups are welcome to tour the facility also.