Watchable Wildlife

Wildlife viewing is a favorite activity of Hawai’i residents and visitors.  Nearly all wildlife is “watchable,” if you follow a few guidelines. The Hawai’i Watchable Wildlife Project is a statewide network of wildlife viewing sites to enhance your enjoyment of the state’s “Watchable Wildlife.” Viewing guidelines and interpretive displays at the viewing sites will inform residents and visitors about Hawai’i’s native flora, fauna and habitats and encourage responsible viewing behavior.

Iiwi endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper bird on a tree
Iiwi endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper bird sitting on a tree top on a cloudy day
Humpback Whale Kauai island, Hawaii
Whale watching sunset cruise tour at Na Pali Coast, Kauai island, Hawaii

The Hawai’i Watchable Wildlife Project is a statewide network of 31 viewing sites, a road signing program to direct travelers to the viewing locations, and a viewing guide and website to enhance the visitor experience and encourage responsible and sustainable viewing behavior.

Lazy Seal sleeping on the beach in Maui
Lazy Seal sleeping on the beach in Maui

This project helps both residents and visitors learn about and experience Hawai’i’s native flora, fauna and habitats in a manner that will be ecologically responsible, economically sustainable, and supported by local communities, the tourism industry and the visitors.

Manta ray
Manta Rays are a common site off the coast of the Big Island

Hawaii Watchable Wildlife
Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaiian goose, Nene, flapping wings in the countryside
Hawaiian goose, Nene, flapping wings in the countryside

Where to see Wildlife in Hawaii

Hawaii has plenty of animals to see, but with Hawaii’s lack of native land mammals many of the most popular are marine mammals.

Marine Mammals in Hawaii

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are the most dramatic of the animals you’ll see in Hawaii. The whales do not live in Hawaii year round so the best time of year to view them is December to April. There are whale watching tours from all Islands but Maui and Kauai are the islands most famous for whale watching.


It’s not uncommon to find seals sleeping on the beach in Maui. Please give them plenty of space and do not try to feed them or pat them. They are not pets and may well attack you and bite your face off.


Hawaii has a lot of dolphins and it’s common to see them anytime you are out on the water in a boat. Less frequently they will come into a bay and play in the waves putting on a dramatic display for those visiting Hawaii.

Other Animals you can see in Hawaii

Manta Rays

Manta Rays are the largest of the stingray family. These magnificent creatures are found all over the pacific, but in Hawaii they can sometimes be seen from the land if you are looking down from the cliffs, particularly on the big island.

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles can be found throughout Hawaii either on the beach or while snorkeling. Please give them space to go about their day and do try to sit on or ride them.


Birds are popular with bird nerds, but for most regular people they are just rats that fly. Hawaii has some unique endemic birds that can only be found here. So if you’re trying to see them all then you’ll need to come for a visit and stay in one of hawaii’s many fine hotels.


Snorkling in Hawaii is a must do activity, the many brightly coloured tropical fish that inhabit pretty much every reef make it an experience you’ll never forget unless you have CTE.

Visit Hawaii to see Wildlife

If you are planning a visit to Hawaii to see the wildlife you’ll want to find a hotel on one of these main islands.