Hawaiian Islands Experience Guide

The first Polynesians discovered these isolated, volcanic Hawaiian Islands sometime between 300 and 800AD. Over centuries, the lives of Native Hawaiians became essentially linked to the life-giving land, and the spirit of aloha ‘aina—love of the land—is still strong today.

Lush valleys where residents first settled are still inhabited by Hawaiians who continue traditional taro farming and celebrate their culture through old customs and storytelling. This diverse landscape creates an ecosystem of biological riches—Flowering plants, fruit-bearing trees, and banyans provide perches for chattering birds; sunbaked lava rock offers hiding spots for geckos and lizards; and marine life flit along reefs and in the largest marine sanctuary in the world.

Unpack only once, then relax, and explore on an island-hopping adventure cruise. A new aloha awaits!

Wildlife Guide


Land Animals & Birds

The Hawaiian archipelago is over 2,500 miles from any other landmass. Due in part to this remote location, there are no snakes on the islands and only two native mammals in Hawaii—the hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal. More common to see are birds or introduced critters of herptile or mammal variety.

  • Nēnē (Hawaiian goose, the official state bird)
  • Hawaiian honeycreepers
  • Pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl)
  • Myna birds
  • Cardinals
  • Egrets
  • Feral pig
  • Indian mongoose
  • Bullfrogs and tree frogs
  • Geckos


Marine Animals

Of the world’s 88 species of cetaceans, 24 have been seen in Hawaii. Traveling 3,000 miles in less than two-months, these gentle giants migrate from Alaska to breed and birth in the islands’ warm and shallow waters. Their annual migration occurs December through April, with the peak between January and March.

  • Hammerhead sharks
  • Spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins
  • Humpback, pilot, melon head, and false killer whales
  • Green sea turtles
  • Giant Pacific Manta rays
  • Octopus
  • Whale sharks
  • Yellow tang, Moorish idols, humuhumunukunukuapaua’a – the state fish, butterflyfish, white-spotted toby, clown fish, wrasse, trumpetfish, needlefish, eels


Flowers & Plants

Sweetly blooming flowers and fruits, especially plumeria give off an incredible fragrance that subtly scents the tropical air. For Native Hawaiians, life was inseparably linked with the natural world, and many plants held medicinal value as well as played roles in legend and tradition.

  • Liliko’i (passionfruit)
  • Taro
  • Hibiscus
  • Plumeria
  • Anthurium
  • Haleconia
  • Orchids
  • Ohi’a lehua
  • Blue and red ginger
  • Bird of paradise
  • Orchid
  • Noni
  • Pikake

Seasonal Variations

Whether its November to March’s wet (or “green”) season or April to October’s dry season, we like to think there’s no such thing as bad weather in Hawaii.

The green season brings back humpback whales and the Hawaii state bird, the Nene, while you may see more Giant Pacific Manta rays darting about from February through April. Dolphin, whale shark, and green sea turtle sightings are possible all year round.


Hawaii by Boutique Yacht vs. 5-star Resorts

Mark Twain commented that Hawaii was, to him, “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.”

And there are many options for exploring this beautiful slice of paradise. You might be wondering what, exactly, makes a 7-night cruise aboard a boutique yacht any better than a week in 5-star resorts? We’re confident there’s no better way to experience multiple islands than from aboard a yacht.

To help you see the nuts-and-bolts of why, we’ve put together this helpful dollar-for-dollar, opportunity-to-opportunity, amenity-to-amenity comparison.

Hawaiian Islands Slideshow

Whales, sea turtles, dolphins, and rays. Deep, lush valleys; sweeping volcanic vistas; and rugged, palm-lined coasts. The Hawaiian Islands are spectacular, especially when witnessed from the vantage of our boutique yacht. Click the image at left to get a peek at your experience.

Boutique Yacht vs 5-star resort comparison Hawaii

What to See & Do on a Hawaiian Islands Cruise


On Board

  • Begin the day with a Hawaiian sunrise and mimosa on the Sun Lounge
  • “Talk story” with your fellow adventurers in the intimate wine bar and library at day’s end
  • Learn about the islands’ fiery creation and the influence of Pele, goddess of fire during an evening talk by your expedition guides
  • From the Bow, watch dolphins dance in the spray and keep a lookout for the tell-tale spray of whales

In the Water

  • Snorkel in Kealakekua Bay among a dazzling array of rainbow-colored tropical fish
  • Look for Pele’s visage in the volcanic formations on a cliff-hugging skiff ride
  • Kayak through a lava tube or glass-like, aquamarine waters watching yellow tang fish flutter by below
  • By day, snorkel alongside green sea turtles and by night, with Giant Pacific Manta rays
  • Paddle board from the boat

On Land

  • After a traditional welcome chant in the ancient Halawa Valley, visit the taro fields of a celebrated kupuna or hike to a waterfall
  • Walk along a windswept volcanic cliff to an overlook with sweeping Pacific Ocean views
  • At a pa‘ina (feast) with Moloka‘i locals, learn to hula during a jam session with local musicians
  • Stroll Kaunakakai—an old paniolo, or cowboy, town—among its shops and open market
  • Explore historic Lahaina and walk under the shade of Hawaii’s largest banyan tree

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