Wildlife you might see on a Hawaii vacation

If you enjoy seeing local wildlife when you travel, Hawaii will not disappoint. From the ocean to the mountains, there’s a good chance you may be dazzled by Hawaii’s wildlife.

Wildlife that you might see in Hawaii

Whales, particularly humpback whales, migrate by the thousands to Hawaii from late December through early April. They travel from thousands of miles away to breed and give birth in the sheltered Hawaiian waters. Maui and the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island are our favorite spots for humpback whale watching.

A humpback whale calf leaps out of the ocean off the island of Maui.

A humpback whale calf leaps out of the ocean off the island of Maui.

Honu, which is the Hawaiian name for green sea turtles, are growing in numbers after being endangered. You might see them while snorkeling or resting on the shoreline like our friend Mat did. If you see a honu, please give them their space — a minimum space of six feet is recommended. Learn more about honu here.

Honu swimming off the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island.

Honu swimming off the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island.

– The critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals are a special animal to see. You might find one resting on a beach or see one while snorkeling or swimming. If you see one, do not approach them. View from a distance only.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal at Poipu Beach, Kauai

– There are several dolphin species that live around Hawaii. You might see them when you go out on a boat tour like we did on our recent visit to Lanai.

Dolphin off the coast of Lanai

Dolphin off the coast of Lanai

Tropical fish are plentiful in Hawaii. If you can snorkel, snuba or scuba dive, you’re in for a treat. Otherwise, the Waikiki Aquarium and the Maui Ocean Center are great places to see tropical fish without getting wet.

Hawaii snorkel fish

Tropical fish in Hawaii.

– Graceful manta rays can be seen, too. We encountered one with a wingspan of 15 to 20 feet while snorkeling in Wailea, Maui as you can see from this 36-second video. On Hawaii, the Big Island, you can go on nighttime snorkel trips to see manta rays off Kona. On the Kohala Coast, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel offers an exclusive, small group experience to swim with manta rays.

Manta ray in Wailea, Maui

Manta ray in Wailea, Maui

– Yes, sharks are in the Hawaiian waters, too.

– The nene is Hawaii’s state bird. This endemic goose is unfortunately endangered.

Nene

Nene near Kilauea Point, Kauai

– Feral chickens are somewhat common, particularly on Kauai.

– In addition to the nene and chickens, you’ll likely see many other birds in Hawaii.

Even the birds in Hawaii stop to enjoy sunset. We took this bird photo at Polo Beach, Maui.

Even the birds in Hawaii stop to enjoy sunset. We took this bird photo at Polo Beach, Maui.

– On Oahu, Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island, you might see a small, furry blur dash across the road. That would be a mongoose.

Geckos are very common in Hawaii. You might see one scampering on an outdoor wall or on plants. They eat insects and are basically harmless to humans.

Gecko in Iao Valley, Maui

Gecko in Iao Valley, Maui

We have only seen one chameleon in Hawaii. They are not native to Hawaii.

– Wild boar are in Hawaii. We have seen signs of their presence off hiking trails, but we’ve never actually seen one.

– On Hawaii, the Big Island, you might see feral donkeys. Though signs caution drivers that donkeys may be near the road, we’ve never actually seen a donkey there.

Donkey caution sign off Highway 19 on Hawaii Island.

Donkey caution sign off Highway 19 on Hawaii Island.

In addition to the above creatures, you might also see deer and goats. There are even invisible cows. 🙂

You might be pleased to know that you won’t see scary snakes in Hawaii as they are illegal. There is only one snake that is native to Hawaii and it’s blind and around the size of a worm.

What wildlife have you seen on your travels to Hawaii?

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

One comment

  1. Gorgeous photography! The sunset shot at Polo Beach is absolutely stunning.

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