The Wildlife of Hawaii
There are so many incredible aspects to a Hawaiian vacation that it’s practically impossible to list all of them, but if we had to pinpoint one of our favorite parts of living in the tropics of the Pacific, it may be the wildlife that shares our paradise.
As you make your way through the islands, you may find yourself coming across some truly unique and special creatures, each of which call this magnificent land home. Should you want to know what to look out for ahead of time, we’ve put together this quick list of some of beautiful and fascinating wildlife of Hawaii, from the depths of the Pacific to the densest forests.
In the Depths
Dolphins – If you’re within Hawaiian waters, chances are you’ll happen across these majestic creatures. Swimming in pods, dolphins are playful and curious creatures, so don’t be alarmed if they come close. They’re just saying “Hi!”
Hawaiian Monk Seals – These big guys like to bask on quiet beaches, but be careful around these unique creatures. Not only are they one of Hawaii’s critically endangered species, they’re also a little grumpy around people.
Honu – Also known as Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, these gliding reptiles are about as docile as marine creatures come. These endangered turtles are aumakua (personal spirits) for many Hawaiian people. They’re also very shy, and may try to escape if you get too close, but they’re an amazing sight as they swim about the depths of the ocean.
Humpback Whales – If you’re out on the water during the winter months, you may catch a glimpse of these incredible behemoths from a distance. Listen closely as they communicate with one another in hauntingly beautiful song.
Manta Rays – Fascinating creatures these are, you can actually enjoy some late-night snorkeling with manta rays.
Geckos – The best thing about our geckos is that they won’t try to sell you car insurance! Incredibly common throughout the islands, expect to see these guys scampering all over the place.
Mongoose – Don’t expect to get too close to these speedy mammals. They’re not looking to make friends and are often seen scurrying across roads on all the islands except Kauai, where they were never introduced.
Nene – Hawaii’s state bird, the nene is an endangered goose endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. After coming back from near-extinction, there are believed to be fewer than 2,500 nene alive. Please keep your distance, especially if you notice babies nearby.
In the Skies
There are quite a few species of birds you can expect to see as you explore the islands, especially if you opt to go ziplining through the canopies of the richest rainforests. You may spot anything from day-hunting owls (pueo)—another Hawaiian aumakua—to honeycreepers and thrushes. Closer to the water, expect ducks, coots, tilts, and herons.