Hawaii Sea Life

Kauai is teeming with abundant sea life. Some of these animals are endangered species, having found a home in the pristine waters of Na Pali. Tropical fish, dolphins, turtles, sea birds and monk seals are seen year round with whale watching from December through April. Here are some of the sea critters you may encounter on a Hawaii boat tour.

Whale Watching photo of humpback whale breaching


Kauai's variety of tropical fish offer a rainbow spectrum of hues. Hundreds of species can be found here, one-third of which are found nowhere else in the world. The Na Pali coastline has some of the best and most remote reefs in Hawaii for experiencing this colorful underwater world. Snorkeling in a reef, as opposed to sandy bottom areas, is the best way to view the broadest range of species.

Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

The largest of all the hard-shelled sea turtles, green sea turtles can grow to more than 3 feet long and weigh 300-350 pounds. Living most of their lives in the ocean, adult females return to beaches to lay their eggs. Protected as an Endangered Species, the honu has recently begun to experience a strong comeback in its population in Hawaiian waters.

`Ilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian Monk Seal)

Among the most endangered creatures on earth, the Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of only two mammals endemic to Hawai`i. It is estimated that roughly 1,300 – 1,400 live in the Hawaiian island chain, with approximately 25 of them living along Kaua`i's coastlines. Having evolved little over the last 15 million years, they are known as "living fossils". Adults can weigh anywhere from 400 to 600 pounds, with a lifespan of 25-30 years. These rare creatures are protected as endangered species and deserve a respect that views them from a distance in their natural habitat.

Nai'a (Dolphin)

Several species of dolphins in Hawaii, including the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin, the Spotted Dolphin and the Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin live and play in Kauai's waters. Na Pali is home to several pods, which are frequently spotted swimming alongside boats and playing in the waves, particularly in the early morning hours.

Kohola (Hawaiian Humpback Whale)

Traveling between Alaska and Hawaii, every year, the Humpback Whale spends winter months in the warm waters of the Hawaiian Islands. It is here that they come to birth and play. Between December and April, the massive splashes of breaching whales and the misty clouds of blowhole spray can be seen offshore from prominent vistas. Specialized whale watching boat tours provide a closer experience with these giant sea creatures.