Home Animals 10 Animals in Maui: Magnificent and Majestic

10 Animals in Maui: Magnificent and Majestic

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Welcome to the Article Animals in Maui! Hawaii may be one of the most geographically isolated places on earth, but that hasn’t stopped it from developing a rich and unique ecosystem all of its own. In fact, many of the plant and animal species that call the Aloha State home aren’t found anywhere else on the planet. It’s believed that the first Polynesian settlers who arrived here around 500 A.D. had a lot to do with this phenomenon.

Along with their families, they brought a variety of livestock animals with them – including dogs, pigs, horses, sheep and goats – that were completely new to Hawaii. This forced native plants to develop new kinds of natural defense’s in order to protect themselves from these unfamiliar grazing animals. Over time, this coevolution gave rise to some truly spectacular examples of thorny, poisonous and camouflaged plants that are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere in the world.

Best Animals in Maui

Hawaii’s wildlife is a treasure trove of unique creatures, with only two endemic mammal species found throughout the islands: the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Hoary Bat. These fascinating creatures are joined by over 60 species of birds, of which one-third are now extinct.

But it’s not just the land-based animals that make Hawaii special – a recent study shows that the coral reefs in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument are home to an incredible variety of fish species that are found nowhere else on Earth. So whether you’re interested in exploring Hawaii’s history or its natural wonders, there’s something for everyone on this beautiful chain of islands. 

Animals in Maui

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Hawaii is known for many beautiful things, but none quite as enchanting as the honu, or sea turtles. These gentle creatures can be spotted near the shores of popular beaches, playing in the waves, eating algae off the reef, and even basking in the sun on the sand. It’s no wonder that everyone who comes to Hawaii falls in love with the honu.

Despite being listed as a threatened species, the green sea turtle population has grown considerably since 1978. While it’s illegal to touch, feed, chase, or harass sea turtles in Hawaii, the joy of swimming with them is available to all visitors. So why not experience the beauty of these adored creatures during a special Turtle Snorkeling adventure?

Humpback Whales

Hawaii is home to a plethora of marine life, but nothing compares to the awe-inspiring sight of humpback whales during Whale Season. From December to April, thousands of whales embark on their annual migration from the frigid waters of Alaska to the warm, welcoming waters of Hawaii. Maui proudly takes the title of the best whale-watching spot in all of Hawaii, and for good reason.

The sight of these magnificent creatures breaching, slapping their pectoral fins, or diving with their fluke up is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To get the best view, be sure to book yourself a spot on one of our Whale Watching Tours. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

There’s something enchanting about the spinner dolphins found in the warm tropical waters of Hawaii. Known as nai’a in Hawaiian, these creatures are friendly and beautiful, with unique markings that make them easily identifiable. Their backs are a rich, dark grey colour, offset by a stripe of a lighter grey on their sides and a white or pink belly.

With their thin beaks and triangular dorsal fins, spinner dolphins are easy to spot and provide an unforgettable sight for lucky visitors. Catch them resting in shallow areas during the morning or spot them swimming with whales in deeper waters later in the afternoon. One of the best places to see these delightful creatures is off the coast of Lanai, where huge schools of spinner dolphins can be found swimming and playing in the sparkling blue waters.


The story of mongoose in Hawaii is a testament to the unforeseen consequences of ecological intervention. In the 19th century, rampant rats were wreaking havoc in the sugarcane fields of Hawaii, and something had to be done. The solution seemed simple enough – mongoose, a natural predator of rats, was introduced into the ecosystem. However, the plan was flawed from the start.

Mongoose are active during the day, while rats primarily come out at night. As a result, the mongoose had little effect on the rat population. Unfortunately, they also developed an appetite for birds and their eggs, leading to further endangerment of native bird populations in Hawaii. While the mongoose may have been a failure in mitigating the rat problem, their presence is still felt on the islands today.  

Nene Goose

As the state bird of Hawaii, the Nene Goose is a unique and fascinating species. Endemic to the Hawaiian islands, the Nene can only be found on Big Island, Kauai, and Maui, giving travelers a chance to spot these beautiful birds in the wild. Once on the brink of extinction with only 30 birds remaining, the Nene has slowly recuperated in population due to their protected status. These geese are known to mate for life and can often be seen in pairs or groups, making loud honking noises.

Interestingly, they have evolved from having fully webbed feet to clawed feet, better for gripping hard surfaces like lava rock. While the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island is the best location to see them, bird enthusiasts should also keep an eye out for this magnificent creature on their next visit to the summit of Maui’s Haleakala Volcano.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is an incredibly rare and precious species, with fewer than 1,100 left in existence. Believed to have been around for over 13 million years, this animal’s survival is threatened by a number of factors, from shark predation to habitat loss. It’s a tragic situation, but fortunately, there are organizations throughout Hawaii working to protect this beloved creature. Thanks to the efforts of these groups, harming a monk seal was declared a felony in 2010. While sightings of this species are rare, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of them basking on a sandy beach during the day.  

Jackson Chameleons

First introduced to Hawaii from Kenya and Tanzania in 1971, Jackson’s Chameleons have taken up residence on Hawaii’s Big Island, Maui, and Oahu. While chameleons may seem like cool additions to Hawaii’s ecosystem, they quickly became a notorious invasive species, preying on and destroying native insects, spiders, and snails. In Maui’s Upcountry areas of Makawao and Kula, chameleons are everywhere – from forests to orchards to the hedges in your backyard.

Unfortunately, chameleons are not alone in their takeover of Hawaii. Veiled chameleons have also wreaked havoc on the Hawaiian islands, preying on the native bird and insect populations. These chameleons were illegally brought to Hawaii as pets, and their impact on the ecosystem has been devastating. While it is illegal to transport chameleons between Hawaiian islands, there is no law against shipping them to the mainland. As a result, most chameleons in the U.S. are believed to have Hawaiian origins.  


(Hawaiian Owl)

The Hawaiian Pueo is not just a bird, but a symbol of cultural significance and aumakua. This short-eared owl is endemic to Hawaii and is commonly found across the Hawaiian Islands, with Maui being a particularly popular spot for sightings. However, despite its prevalence, the Pueo is listed as an endangered species on Oahu. In ancient Hawaiian history, the Pueo was considered a powerful ancestor, alongside other aumakua such as sharks, turtles, and centipedes.

As a symbol of strength and protection, this bird holds a special place in Hawaii’s cultural heritage. Beyond its mystical qualities, the Pueo is also distinct in its behavior, regularly active during the day and making its home on the ground in wet grasslands and dry forests. So, if you’re lucky enough to spot one soaring through the Hawaiian skies or perched atop a tree, take a moment to appreciate the Pueo and the deep cultural meaning it holds for the people of Hawaii.

Manta Rays

Manta rays are some of the most mysterious and graceful creatures in the ocean, and it’s no wonder why they’re so highly regarded. With the ability to grow up to a staggering 30 feet wide, these friendly giants are the largest species of ray in the world–and unlike their stingray and eagle ray counterparts, they pose no threat to humans due to their lack of a stinger. Manta rays can frequently be found making use of cleaning stations, which provide smaller fish with the opportunity to remove unwanted parasites and dead tissue.

If you’re planning a trip to Maui and want to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures, Olowalu is the place to be. This location boasts the fourth-largest manta ray resident population in the world, with over 350 of these gentle giants calling the area home. Olowalu offers an incredible opportunity to witness manta rays up close and personal.


Sharks are more than just predators in Hawaiian culture; they are esteemed as ‘aumakua, family guardians and protectors. With such a close connection to these animals, Hawaiians have always appreciated the role sharks play in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. There are many species of sharks found in the waters of Hawaii, including the mighty tiger shark and the majestic hammerhead shark.

For those looking to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures, there’s no better place than Maui Ocean Center’s Shark Dive Maui, where certified scuba divers have the opportunity to dive with more than 20 sharks in a giant 750,000-gallon tank. However, for those who prefer to admire these creatures from a safe distance, it’s essential to remember to swim with a buddy at all times and stay away from murky conditions.


What animals can you see in Maui Hawaii?

In the captivating landscapes of Maui, Hawaii, you’ll have the chance to encounter a captivating array of wildlife. From the mesmerising humpback whales gracing the coastal waters during their winter migration to the graceful green sea turtles gliding through the azure waves. Keep an eye out for the playful spinner dolphins and the rare Hawaiian monk seals that occasionally bask on the sun-kissed beaches.

The skies above are adorned with the vibrant plumage of native birds like the ‘I’iwi and ‘Apapane, while geckos and mongoose add a touch of exotic charm. As you explore both land and sea, you’ll be greeted by the kaleidoscope of colours provided by reef fish while enjoying the delicate dance of butterflies like the Hawaiian Monarch. Amidst this natural spectacle, remember to respect and protect these creatures in their cherished habitats.

What is Maui best known for?

Maui is renowned for its awe-inspiring natural allure, showcasing exquisite beaches like Kaanapali and Wailea, and the captivating black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. The dormant Haleakalā volcano within Haleakalā National Park offers unforgettable sunrises and hikes, while the scenic Road to Hana unveils waterfalls, rainforests, and coastal panoramas.

Winter brings the spectacle of humpback whales, drawing visitors for exceptional whale watching. Snorkeling, diving, and luaus delve into Hawaiian culture, while Lahaina’s sunsets and the island’s varied outdoor activities provide endless delights. Maui encapsulates a harmonious blend of nature, adventure, and cultural treasures that captivates travelers and offers unforgettable experiences

Are there wolves in Maui?

No, wolves are not native to Maui, Hawaii. Wolves are typically found in regions such as North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Maui’s ecosystem is quite different from the habitats where wolves are naturally found. 

Final Words

Maui, the second-largest island in Hawaii, is home to a fascinating array of wildlife. With warm weather all year round, you can explore the various habitats and encounter some of the most remarkable animals and wildlife. Some of the animals that you should consider seeing while in Maui include the humpback whales, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and the generous population of colourful marine life. 

Furthermore, you can also visit the Maui Ocean Center, a world-class marine park that features interactive exhibits showcasing various marine animals. Maui offers visitors an exceptional opportunity to connect with nature and experience the beauty of wildlife in a unique and unforgettable way.


Author Profile
Rahul M Suresh

Visiting the Zoo can be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. As a guide, I have the privilege of helping students and visitors alike to appreciate these animals in their natural habitat as well as introducing them to the various aspects of zoo life. I provide detailed information about the individual animals and their habitats, giving visitors an opportunity to understand each one more fully and appreciate them in a more intimate way.

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Visiting the Zoo can be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. As a guide, I have the privilege of helping students and visitors alike to appreciate these animals in their natural habitat as well as introducing them to the various aspects of zoo life. I provide detailed information about the individual animals and their habitats, giving visitors an opportunity to understand each one more fully and appreciate them in a more intimate way.


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