7 “Must See” Sea Animals in Hawaii

7 “Must See” Sea Animals in Hawaii

On your Hawaii Vacation you will have many opportunities to experience amazing marine life. Don’t miss your chance to get up close and personal with sea animals in Hawaii! These are the 7 underwater animals you can’t miss on your Hawaii Vacation!

Must See Sea Animals in Hawaii


1. Green Sea Turtles

Snorkeling with green sea turtles is an experience you will never forget. There is a level of serenity that surrounds you as you watch graceful honu swim in their natural habitat.

On the island of Oahu you can experience a Hawaii Turtle Tour. You will see scenic island locations such as Halona Blowhole, Makapu’u Beach and Dole Plantation. This Oahu Circle Island Tour has a twist – you will also stop at a secret location for a chance to snorkel with Sea Turtles! Click here to learn more about the Oahu Hawaii Turtle Tour.

Hawaii Green Sea Turtles Honu


2. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

The State Fish of Hawaii is the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. The meaning of Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is triggerfish with a snout like a pig. It is pronounced who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooah-ah. If that is a mouthful you can also call it the rectangular triggerfish or Hawaiian triggerfish.

When snorkeling in Hawaii you will see beautiful fish including a variety of butterflyfish, tang, surgeonfish, wrasse, parrotfish, trumpetfish and of course Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. There are many great snorkeling locations in Hawaii. Hawaii Discount offers Oahu Snorkel Tours, Maui Snorkel Tours, Big Island Snorkel Tours and Kauai Snorkel Tours. Two of my favorite Hawaii Snorkel Locations are Hanauma Bay on Oahu and Kahaluu Beach Park on the Big Island. Check out my complete list of the Best Places to Snorkel in Hawaii.

Humuhumunukunukuapua`a Hawaii State Fish

Photo from http://www.waikikiaquarium.org


3. Dolphins

Humans can learn about community, love and communication from dolphins. There are many opportunities to see dolphins in Hawaii. If you take a catamaran cruise or a snorkel cruise there is a good chance you will see them swimming alongside the boat. If you want to get in the water with these amazing creatures you can swim with wild dolphins on Oahu or swim with wild dolphins on the Big Island. Swimming with wild dolphins can be an unforgettable spiritual experience. Another way to experience dolphins in Hawaii is at Sea Life Park on Oahu. Sea Life Park offers a variety of dolphin encounters. (Sea Life Park is also the location of Chief’s Luau, the #1 Rated Luau in Hawaii)

Click here to read about my family’s adventure swimming with wild dolphins on Oahu.

Swimming with wild dolphins


4. Manta Rays

When people ask me about the things they can’t miss on the Big Island of Hawaii I always tell them to reserve Manta Ray Night Snorkeling! The Kona Coast is the only place in the world with this type of Manta Ray experience! Manta Rays are some of the largest animals in the ocean and can range from 3-20 feet wide. Check out the video below to see my up close encounter with majestic manta rays.


5. Humpback Whales

From December through May as many as 10,000 humpback whales visit Hawaii from their summer home in Alaska. These whales weigh 25 to 40 tons. These large animals can be seen from shore but a great way to see Humpback Whales up close is a Hawaii Whale Watch Cruise. You may see humpback whales “breach” which is when a whale propels itself out of the water. You may also witness whales “tail slap” which is forceful slapping of the flukes against the water. You even have the opportunity to hear the song of the whales via a hydrophone. If your Hawaii Vacation is during Whale Watch Season I highly recommend a Whale Watch Cruise!

Maui Whale Watch Tours


6. Sharks

Most people want to avoid sharks on their Hawaii Vacation but for a true adrenaline rush be sure to reserve a Shark Encounter! Travel via boat about 3 miles from Haleiwa to the shark grounds. There you will descend a ladder into the shark cage. The clear plexiglass windows of the shark cage make it appear like the Galapagos Sharks and Sandbar Sharks are swimming right on in! Click here to read about my morning on the Oahu Shark EncounterIt gave me insight into a world that is usually filled with fear.  

Bucket List - Hawaii Shark Encounter


7. Hawaiian Monk Seals

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is the state mammal of Hawaii. Hawaiian monk seals are also known as ‘Ilio holo I ka uaua which means “dog that runs in rough water.” Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawaii. Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered animal species in the world. They can be seen sleeping on the beaches of Hawaii – sometimes for days at a time. I have had the most luck seeing them on the beaches of Poipu, Kauai. It is fun to see these beautiful creatures but please do not disturb these precious pups. Only about 1,100 are left and the population continues to decline. 

Animals in Hawaii - Hawaiian Monk Seals


When planning your Hawaii Vacation be sure to include Hawaii Activities that will bring you up close and personal to some of these 7 amazing sea animals in Hawaii!

What are your favorite sea animals in Hawaii?

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About Elizabeth

Elizabeth has been blogging about the best Hawaii Activities for over 7 years. She loves sharing the Aloha Spirit.
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