Best advice for naturalists new to Oahu, Hawaii?

I’m going to be moving to Oahu, Hawaii in about a year’s time, but I’ve lived all my life in the northeast. I was wondering if anyone has advice/suggestions/resources for observing nature in Hawaii, particularly Oahu, or just share your favorite story/memory of wildlife there. I spent a week there this summer, so I got a glimpse of some of the beauty there, such as Hawaiian green turtles, the Endangered Hawaiian black-necked stilt, a spotted eagle ray and more. I am particularly into birds and flowers, but tropical marine biology fascinates me as well, partly because it’s so different than anything I’m used to. (I’ve never been scuba-diving before, though I do want to learn while I’m there at some point, but I have been snorkeling before).


There are lots of interesting weeds, even in urban and disturbed area. But I’m biased because that’s what I’m focusing on and researching. There are still plenty of things here which exist on scientific checklists but have not yet been uploaded to iNat.

Also, many Hawaiian words have an 'okina (glottal stop), so it’s best to say O’ahu and Hawai’i rather than omitting it.

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I grew up on O’ahu and caught a lot of lizards and spiders when I was young but am overall not super knowledgable about about it. In my last few trips I’ve loved birding on the east shore between Sandys and Hana’uma Bay. If you’re there during the right season you can see tropicbirds, which are so cool. Among other birds. Hiking to Ka’ena Point is also a good way to see some cool plants and birds.

On some of the ridge trails of the Honolulu side you can see native birds and plants once you get up a bit.

The tidepools below Diamond Head (aka Kaimana hila) can have some cool things as well, although they’re not as rich as coastal California, in my experience.


No advice in particular but I hope you have a great time. It’s really beautiful. Though, everywhere is beautiful if you choose to see it that way. Based on what you’ve said, it seems like you’ll love it.

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Hawaiian rainforests are literally a hodgepodge of the world’s flora and fauna. There are many wonderful hiking trails on O’ahu, but the ones you can publicly access are going to be almost all nonnative biota. I especially recommend the Manoa Falls – Mt. Tantalus – Round Top area for lushness and relative ease of access. If you’re up for a challenge, Mt. Ka’ala on the Wai’anae side is one of the few places where you can access native cloud forest.

Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i is too big to carry in the field; I relied on Pratt’s A Pocket Guide to Hawai’i’s Trees and Shrubs, although with the caveat that that this guide covers only the ones you most commonly encounter; there are many, many more. The same Pratt is mainly an ornithologist; he wrote the flaghip Field Guide to the Birds of Hawai’i and the Tropical Pacific, which covers all of the archipelagoes. For Lepidoptera, I used Hawai’i’s Butterflies and Moths by Jamieson and Denny.

To enjoy nature in Hawai’i, you have to be prepared to appreciate nonnative – but still quite biodiverse – ecosystems.

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Very true, especially when it comes to accessible places. I was lucky enough to access Mt. Ka’ala in February through a family friend and it was mindboggling. So many native species I’d never seen before.

You might want to check out the blog posts of Nate Yuen, who sadly recently passed away.

I’ve been to three of the islands – Maui (mostly), Oahu, and the Big Island and each is different in many respects in terms of fauna and flora (both native and non-native). At least I saw different things, such as native and nonnative birds, on each island that I hadn’t seen on the other two. That was interesting to me. Have not visited Kauai yet but really want to. It took about four trips before I finally saw Nene (Hawaiian Goose) and they were wandering around a cemetery in suburban Maui whereas I had been fruitlessly searching for them on top of Haleakala crater.

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