Marine Life of Lanai

From indigenous marine life to friendly seasonal visitors, Lanai’s warm waters are home to a variety of sea animals that can be easily discovered—if you know where to look.

Humpback Whales (Kohola)
Thousands of kohola (humpback whales) visit the warm waters of Hawaii every year between late November and early May. Migrating from seas as far as Alaska, these gentle giants partake in the longest seasonal migration of any mammal.

During the winter months you can spot whales from any island in Hawaii, but the best whale-watching waters are between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. You can take a whale watching boat tour from a variety of tour companies in Lahaina Harbor on Maui. Ferry services run between Manele Harbor and Lahaina Harbor 5 times a day.

Spinner Dolphins (Naia)
Naia (spinner dolphins) are common throughout Hawaii and pods of these acrobatic marine mammals can often be seen off Hulopoe Bay. Spinner dolphins are aptly named for their affinity to spin as they leap out of the water. Seeing these playful animals ride in the wake of your boat is an unforgettable—and not uncommon—experience.

Green Turtles (Honu)
Although they are a threatened species, Hawaiian green sea turtles, or honu, are the most common sea turtle found in Hawaii. You can see large honu sometimes sunning themselves on remote Polihua Beach on Lanai’s north coast. Because these are a protected species, it is important not to touch the honu.

Hawaii’s abundant waters are home to a variety of fish. In fact, roughly 20% of fish species in Hawaii are unique to the islands. From the bandit angelfish to Hawaii’s state fish the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (which ironically isn’t endemic), snorkelers and pers will be richly rewarded in their exploration of Hawaii’s seas. Hulopoe Bay is a great place for beginning snorkelers and the Lanai Cathedrals are a famous spot for experienced scuba pers.