Guide: Hawaiian Sea Animals You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

There’s so much to see when you’re here in Hawaii, but one thing you must do is get up close with some of our wondrous marine life. It’s what makes Hawaii special and magical! Here’s our top picks, so get your cameras and go explore our island to see our sealife while on your Hawaii vacation.


1. Dolphins

Ok, so we’re a little biased, but we know that after spending some time with these beautiful and intelligent mammals, you’ll agree that they should be at the top of the list. Dolphins live in schools or pods of up to 12 individuals and use a blowhole on the top of their head to breathe. They also have excellent eyesight and hearing as well as the ability to use echolocation to help them locate things underwater. And if you think you hear them chatting in the water, you’re right! Dolphins communicate with each other by clicking, whistling and making other sounds. Unfortunately, some dolphins are in danger of becoming extinct because of negligent human behavior and unsafe fishing methods. You’ll definitely want to make time to see these beauties while visiting Hawaii!


2. Sea Turtles

Luckily, Hawaii is a hub for the sea turtle, which has four of the seven species of sea turtles in the world! Here in the islands you can see the green sea turtle, the hawksbill, the leatherback and the olive ridley. And it’s good to note that due to recent conservation efforts, the green sea turtle is the most common species of sea turtle in Hawaii. Also known as the “Honu” in local Hawaiian culture, the female green sea turtles lay their eggs on shore between May and August. The eggs incubate for 50 to 60 days and sometimes on a clear, moonlit night, you can see the hatchlings digging themselves out of their nests and scramble to the water. What’s even more interesting is that the sex of the turtles is determined by the temperature of the nest, with cooler nests producing male turtles and warmer nests producing female turtles. You’ll get to see some Honu friends on our Dolphin tour so get your waterproof cameras ready!

3. Manta Rays

The mysterious manta ray is one of the largest fishes in the ocean with wingspans of up to 20 feet or more but unlike stingrays or eagle rays, mantas do not have stingers. These guys have the biggest brains of all fish and they have their gills in the lower body, where they get their oxygen from water. If you’re lucky, you might see a manta ray jumping out of water, sometimes to eliminate parasites or maybe even to communicate, although some marine experts say they are playing a game! Unlike the dolphins who are really social, the manta rays steer clear of humans. But if you really want to see these graceful creatures glide along, the Kona Coast is the best place to spot friendly manta rays at night.


4. Humpback Whales

If you’re traveling to Hawaii between November and March, you may be lucky enough to see one of the thousands of humpback whales that visit the warm waters of Hawaii every year. These large, magnificent sea animals migrate from seas as far as Alaska and make the longest seasonal migration of any mammal. During the winter months you can spot whales along the Kohala Coast, off the shores of North Kohala, and in Hilo Bay to the east. While on your Hawaii vacation, try and take a whale watching boat tour since seeing a massive humpback whale breach the sea is an amazing sight. Once nearing extinction, the humpback whale population is now stabilized through an international ban on commercial whaling and protections under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Great news for our oceans and our wondrous marine life!

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Whatever adventures your Hawaii vacation has in store, make some time to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. We promise that it will be one of the most magical and memorable experiences of your trip!


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