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If you love animals, Hawaii is the place for you! There are countless opportunities on every island to observe animal life, including birds, insects, mammals, and fish. The oceans, streams, fields, forests, and mountains of Hawaii are bursting with animals of astounding variety. In fact, you can see animals when you swim, hike, walk, kayak, and even fly above the islands.
DIVERSITY AND ENDEMICISMAs an isolated archipelago, Hawaii boasts an incredible diversity of sea life. Some animals that are rare elsewhere occur here in abundance, and some animals that are abundant elsewhere are rare or non-existent here. The diversity and balance of reef fish species, for instance, is unique to the islands. Hawaii is a great place to see exotic fish such as the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa or Reef Triggerfish, the unofficial state fish. Many species of parrotfish, triggerfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, goatfish, damselfish, and many others occur in abundance in Hawaiian waters.
OCEAN ANIMALS ON OAHU
Each of the four main islands has great sites to catch a glimpse of some Hawaiian ocean animals. On Oahu, Hanauma Bay is an easy-access snorkeling area that boasts an incredible diversity of fish species. The north shore of Oahu boasts an unlabeled beach known locally as "turtle beach," where you are almost certain to see green sea turtles basking in the sun on a summer day. The Waikiki Aquarium, though modest in size, includes some Hawaiian species from the northern Hawaiian islands that you can't see anywhere else.
OCEAN ANIMALS ON KAUAI
On Kauai, you can see great reef animals all around the island, especially at Kee Beach west of Hanalei or snorkeling along the Na Pali Coast. Snorkel tours to this striking northern coast abound - don't go to Kauai without seeing the Na Pali coast!
ANIMALS ON MAUI
Snorkeling is great on Maui. If the water conditions are right, you can see great fish life in Honolua Bay, for instance. Honolua can be excellent because the reef is far enough below you that you don't have to worry about running into it, but the water is so crystal clear that you can easily see the plethora of fish life. Always check local conditions before you go, though, because they can drastically affect which areas are safest and best for snorkeling on that day.
Some of the best lava tidepools in Hawaii are on Maui's neighbor to the west: Lanai. Lanai also has good snorkeling at Hulopoe Beach when conditions are good.
ANIMALS ON THE BIG ISLAND
On the Big Island, Kealakekua Bay is probably the top spot to search for reef animal life, although a number of other sites on the west (Kona) coast can be great as well. Two-step, near Place of Refuge (Puuhonua O Honaunau) is a snorkel area so-called because of the ledge entry, which can be tricky when the surf is up. Trumpetfish and turtles are common in this area. The best place to see the rare Lagoon Triggerfish is at Kahaluu Beach Park just south of Kona.
Continue your exploration of Hawaii's sea life by clicking a photo below.