Mon. Jul 15th, 2024


Hawaii is one of the most isolated land areas in the world, and many animal and plant species can only be found in the Aloha State. The first Polynesian settlers, who came to Hawaii around 500 A.D., brought dogs, pigs, horses, sheep and goats with them, allowing natural defenses like th orns, camouflage and poison to evolve in existing plant life.


Best animals to see in Maui

Animals in Maui

Only two endemic mammal species were found throughout the islands, including the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Hoary Bat, along with more than 60 species of birds, a third of which are extinct today.

In addition to land animals, a new study also shows that coral reefs in Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument contain the highest number of fish species found nowhere else on Earth. On your next visit, don’t miss the chance to explore the animals that make Hawaii so unique!

01. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Best Maui Animals Sea Turtle

Everyone who comes to Hawaii falls in love with the honu, or sea turtles, that can be spotted swimming near the shore of popular beaches, eating algae off the reef, playing in waves and even crawling up on the sand to bask in the sun, a behavior that’s only been reported in Hawaii and Australia. Since their listing as a threatened species in 1978, the green sea turtle population has risen dramatically.

02. Humpback Whales

Best Maui Animals Humpback Whale

While sea turtles can be seen throughout the year, many visitors plan their trip to Hawaii specifically during Whale Season, which lasts from December to April. Each year, around 10,000 whales make the long trek from Alaska to the warm waters around Hawaii to give birth and nurse their young. All of the islands get their fair share of humpback whale sightings, but Maui enjoys its rank as the prime whale watching spot in Hawaii.

03. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Best Maui Animals Spinner Dolphin

Called nai’a in Hawaiian, these friendly and beautiful animals enjoy the warm tropical water and shallow bays surrounding Hawaii. Four different species of the spinner dolphin exist, but Hawaiian spinner dolphins make up their own subspecies and are easy to spot due to the unique coloring of dark grey on their backs, a stripe of lighter grey on their sides, white or pink belly, thin beak and triangular dorsal fin.

04. Mongoose

Top Maui Animals Mongoose

The story of mongoose in Hawaii really begins with the story of rats in Hawaii. In the mid 19th century, rats were running rampant in the sugarcane fields, destroying crops and multiplying quickly due to the fact that they had no natural predators on the island. After reading about a success story in Jamaica where mongoose successfully destroyed a large number of rats, mongoose were introduced into the Hawaiian ecosystem.


05. Nene Goose

Top Maui Animals Nene Goose

Endemic to the Hawaiian islands, the Nene Goose can only be found on Hawaii’s Big Island, Kauai and Maui. The state bird since 1957, the Nene’s population once reached a low of around 30 birds, growing slowly in population ever since due to their status as a protected species. They can often be seen in pairs or groups and are known to mate for life.

06. Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal

A species found only in Hawaii and believed to have been in existence for more than 13 million years, there are currently fewer than 1,100 Hawaiian Monk Seals left in existence. The official state mammal of Hawaii, the monk seal faces harsh survival rates due to a number of factors, including shark predation, habitat loss, marine debris, food shortages, disease and human harassment.

07. Jackson Chameleons

Top Maui Animals Jackson Chameleon

First introduced to Hawaii from Kenya and Tanzania in 1971, Jackson’s Chameleons soon established free ranging populations on Hawaii’s Big Island, Maui and Oahu. With their amazing ability to blend into their surroundings and thrive in a variety of forest environments, chameleons soon became another of Hawaii’s invasive species, destroying native species of insects, spiders and snails.

08. Pueo (Hawaiian Owl)

Top Maui Animals Pueo - Hawaiian Owl

The Hawaiian Pueo is a short-eared owl that is endemic to Hawaii. With deep cultural meaning, the Pueo is found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and can be commonly seen on Maui. On the Island of Oahu, the Pueo is actually listed as an endangered species.

09. Manta Rays

Top Maui Animals Manta Ray

If you can’t make it to the Big Island for the manta ray night dive and snorkel off the Kona coast, you’re still in luck! Regarded as one of the most graceful and mysterious creatures in the ocean, manta rays can grow up to 30 feet wide and, unlike eagle rays and stingrays, have no stinger.

10. Sharks

Top Maui Animals Shark

Sharks, or mano, have a long and intertwined relationship with Hawaiian culture. While Captain Cook reported the use of shark teeth for various ancient weapons, sharks were also commonly regarded as ‘aumakua, or family guardians and protectors. Today, sharks continue to play a vital role in the health of marine ecosystems and are highly respected in Hawaiian culture.



By Liga