Hawaii has long been a favorite locale for both adventurous travelers and new tourists alike. Its incredible landscape, wonderful culture, and memorable sights make traveling to Hawaii an unforgettable experience.
When most people think about Hawaii, they think about the waves crashing on the shores of beautiful beaches and live volcanoes that are both breathtaking and intimidating. Hawaii is also home to fascinating wildlife. Here are some of the secret gems of Hawaii’s ecosystem that you won’t want to miss.
Diving with Manta Rays
One of the best experiences animal lovers will have in Hawaii is leaving their Big Island villas and visiting the manta rays in their natural environment. The largest of these species can reach up to 22 feet wide and weigh up to 3500 pounds. These gentle giants glide gracefully through the water, eating plankton through their filters. Their curious nature makes them an ideal creature with which to interact.
The best time to go diving is during the night when the mantas are most active. You can book a tour with a provider in Hawaii, take a cruise out over the water at sunset and dive into a well-lit lagoon where the mantas frolic. For those who want to see the mantas but (understandably) feel hesitant about getting in the water with them, there are cruise options that allow you to view from the deck of your boat or watch your travel partners as they dive.
Watch the Humpback Whale Migration
Humpback whales are a more northern animal, whereas Hawaii boasts warmer waters and tropical surroundings. However, these beautiful creatures are also migratory, and their path of migration takes them right past Hawaii. This makes Hawaii one of the best places in the world to see not only fully grown humpbacks but also their babies. In fact, Hawaii is the ideal place for humpback whales to breed due to its warmer temperatures.
In Maui, you can often see the whales from the shore. There are also many boat tours you can take to go whale watching and immerse yourself in awe of these spectacular beasts. It’s estimated that 12000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii between November and May, with the peak time to see them in January through March.
While Hawaii has many interesting water creatures, there is plenty to see in the jungle as well. One of Hawaii’s secret gems– which appeals to tourists but causes locals plenty of problems– is the chameleon.
Chameleon’s aren’t native to Hawaii. These cute creatures were brought into Hawaii in the 1970s by a pet shop owner who had intentions of selling them in his shop. The chameleons didn’t travel well, so they were released into the shop owner’s backyard to recover. The approach worked, to an extent. The dozens of Kenyan chameleons recovered and left the yard, breeding and adapting to their new environment. They are considered an invasive species by the Hawaiian government.
If you spend time hiking in Hawaii, you’ll likely see many chameleons if you look closely. They are easier to spot in the jungle at night as they often revert to a white color rather than blending in with the surroundings.
Green Sea Turtles
Large green sea turtles– known as “Honu” by locals– call Hawaii home. If you take part in snorkeling, you may get to have a special encounter with one of these beautiful creatures. Take note, however, that these turtles are highly endangered and on the protected species list. Be respectful of their space and, if you choose to take photos, do it in a way that isn’t restrictive of their movement. The fine for intentionally touching the turtles is $2000.
You can try to take a selfie, but without disturbing the animals. Facetune’s ultimate guide for selfie posing can help you out with taking better photos.
Hawaii is also home to the mongoose, albatross and spinner dolphin. Take time to appreciate these hidden gems of the Hawaiian islands, but remember: take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints. Protect the animals who call this incredible part of the world home.