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Welcome to Oahu, a wildlife paradise!

Nestled in the heart of the Pacific, Oahu is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife aficionados. Beyond its renowned beaches and cultural richness, the island boasts a diverse range of ecosystems, providing a home to some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth. Join us on a journey through the lush landscapes and crystal-clear waters as we explore the most popular Hawaiian wildlife you might encounter while on the enchanting island of Oahu.

Diverse Ecosystems and Microclimates

Oahu’s charm lies in its varied ecosystems, from dense rainforests to pristine coastlines. These ecosystems are supported by a myriad of microclimates, creating a paradise for a wide array of plant and animal species. The island’s unique geography allows for a captivating mix of native and non-native species, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts seeking a truly immersive experience. 

If you go a day on Oahu without witnessing the unique wildlife, you need to adjust your travel plans! Wildlife in Hawaii is abundant everywhere you look. The north shore of Oahu is one of the greatest places to see all kinds of wildlife. With less city, structures, and infrastructure, the north shore remains untamed and many of the animals are less bothered by humans where it is calm and protected.

Dolphins: Graceful Dancers of Oahu’s Waters

  • Dolphins are some of the smartest creatures out of all the Hawaiian wildlife with a unique social behavior.
  • The bay is usually where you’ll spot the dolphins since that’s where they typically mate.
  • Spinner dolphins are the most common type you’ll spot.
  • To keep yourself and dolphins safe, keep a safe distance from them. We’re sure you’ll enjoy watching them from afar! Whether you’re exploring the open ocean on a boat tour or witnessing their acrobatics from the shore. We highly recommend Dolphins and You if you want to go on an excursion.

pod of dolphins swimming off the coast of oahu

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles: Guardians of the Coastal Waters

  • In the Hawaiian language, green sea turtles are known as “Honu.” They have a herbivorous diet and a mesmerizing journey from hatchlings to adulthood. They have a deep history with Hawaiian culture.
  • From the iconic Laniakea Beach to the rocky shores of Kaena Point, the beaches are the most reliable locations for a memorable encounter with Honu. Several north shore beaches house many of the turtles. To see them in action, get on the snorkel gear and go view them at a safe distance under the Pacific waters.
  • Ensure that your visit aligns with the periods when these magnificent animals are most active. Turtles are a protected species and it is illegal to touch or disturb them. Please be respectful of their behavior and watch from a respectful distance.

hawaiian green sea turtle swimming off the coast of oahu

Humpback Whales: Majestic Migrations in Oahu’s Waters

  • From their haunting songs to their epic migrations, these giants of the deep are so extraordinary. Whale watching in Oahu is one of the must do’s while visiting the tropical paradise.
  • Navigate the waters of Oahu to catch a glimpse of humpback whales during their annual migration. Whether from a whale-watching tour or a scenic coastal vantage point, people often spot whales while visiting Oahu. The peak season of whale migration in Hawaii is in the winter—usually November through February. You can even spot them while ziplining on our course from clear up in the mountains looking down into the ocean.

2 humpback whales in the waters of hawaii coming up for air

Hawaiian Monk Seals: Guardians of Solitude

  • Seals are found on secluded beaches and coastal areas where they often seek refuge. Respectful observation is key to ensuring their well-being. Hawaiian monk seals are the rarest seal species in the world. While these wild creatures are beautiful, they shouldn’t be approached by humans. They are only found in Hawaii!
  • Two types of seals call Hawaii home: elephant seals and Hawaiian monk seals. You’ll find plenty of elephant seals and will know the difference due to their loud call. 

hawaiian monk seal surfacing while swimming in the ocean off the coast of oahu

Mongoose: Intriguing Invaders of Oahu’s Landscapes

  • Mongoose are an introduced species with a unique history on the island. These curious creatures have adapted to a variety of habitats.
  • Even though it’s non-native Hawaiian wildlife, you’ll probably see quite a few Indian mongeese. These creatures were introduced to Hawaii to lower the rat population in sugar cane fields. 
  • Mongeese ravaged after bird and turtle eggs, being blamed for the population dip of Hawaiian crows, geese, and other birds. The long, brown body of the mongoose makes it look like a weasel.

mongoose on a beach in hawaii

Birds of Oahu: Symphony in the Skies

  • Delight in the rich avian diversity found on Oahu, from native species to colorful migratory birds. 
  • There are multiple species of birds you’ll find amongst the wildlife in Hawaii. At one point, there were over 100 endemic species of birds in Hawaii. Due to other animals and the impacts from humans, the Hawaiian birds are the most threatened in the entire world. 
  • Some sea birds include noddies, shearwaters, and albatross. Forest birds that can be found in Hawaii include yellow-green ‘amakihi, black-billed ‘apapane, and salmon-billed i’iwi. The state bird of Hawaii is the nene or Hawaiian goose.

green and yellow ‘amakihi perched on a branch

Protecting & Preserving Hawaiian Wildlife

As you embark on your adventure of seeking out wildlife in Oahu, it is paramount to recognize the significance of preserving these delicate ecosystems. The enchanting wildlife of the island depends on our collective commitment to conservation. With our modern world, many of these creatures are being faced with many threats from human activity, including habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing.

We emphasize the importance of respecting habitats, providing guidance on responsible wildlife interaction, and reminding you of the importance of local laws and regulations.

Plan a Trip to Hawaii:

Before you set foot on this wildlife paradise, plan a trip to Hawaii with insights on accommodations, transportation, and sustainable travel practices. By incorporating responsible tourism, you not only enhance your experience but also contribute to the preservation of Oahu’s unique and awe-inspiring biodiversity.

In the spirit of exploration and conservation, let Oahu’s wildlife captivate your senses and leave you with a profound appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.



This image portrays Most Popular Hawaiian Wildlife You Might See While in Oahu by CLIMB Works.

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