10 Hawaiian Fishes To Look For When
Snorkeling In Maui
There is no complete Maui vacation without snorkeling on its clear waters. Being voted as the best island in the world by
Conde Nast Traveler readers last 2014, this exotic island is not only beaming with life and activities, but it is also famous
for its excellent snorkeling. The Maui waters are home to many green sea turtles, extensive coral reefs, and varied tropical
In this guide, you will get to know the fantastic colorful underwater creatures you will encounter when snorkeling
1. Ornate Butterfly or Kikakapu
The Ornate Butterfly Fish belongs to the Chaetodontidae family of reef fish and is considered as one of the marvelous
fishes in the waters of Maui. The fish has six orange stripes on both sides of its body, with black and
yellow lines on its face, with a gray patch on its forehead, and can grow up to eight inches long. They are usually
found on coral reefs eating coral polyps.
2. Longnose Butterflyfish or Lau-Wiliwili-Nukunuku‘oi’oi
One of the tropical fishes that you can easily find in Maui underwater is the Longnose Butterflyfish. It is mostly
bright yellow with a black spot on the tail, white chin, black mask, and a very long nose. The average
Longnose Butterflyfish eats echinoderms like sea stars while the bigger kinds eat small shrimps. They can be
found individually or in schools on the coral reefs of Maui waters.
3. Triggerfish or Humuhumunukunukuapua`a
The multicolored fish is the state fish of Hawaii, and it’s generally found in shallow reefs. The Triggerfishes have a
body almost like a parallelogram with a mustache, striped cap, and a fan-shaped tail with a “V” outlined in gold.
They usually swim in groups but will scatter whenever they feel threatened. Its Hawaiian name means “nose like
a pig,” and just like a pig, they make a snorting sound to warn other fishes whenever there is danger around
their area. Aside from that, it also has a feature that looks like a spike which comes out as a defense mechanism.
4. Threadfin Butterfly Or Lau Hau
The Threadfin Butterfly is a popular kind of butterflyfish and is found in the Maui. This shy fish loves to hang out
on reef slopes hiding behind rocks and corals. Like the other Chaetodontidae fishes, the Threadfin Butterflyfish
can grow up to 8 inches long. To distinguish Threadfin from other butterflyfishes, check out for the black spot
near its dorsal fin.
5. Moorish Idol or Kihikihi
The Moorish Idol is sometimes confused for a butterflyfish because of its coloring. It has a crescent shape body
and an extremely long dorsal fin which can sometimes double the length of the fish. Moorish Idol can grow up to
10 inches long and the older they get, the less prominent their dorsal fin becomes. Young Moorish Idol swims in
schools while adults swim alone. They are usually found close to the sea floor near shallow reefs.
6. Parrotfish or Uhu
The Parrotfish has a bright pink, orange-blue body and a snout that looks like the parrots. Parrotfish is
considered as one of the most exciting fishes on the reef. For one reason, they are stunning especially
the bright blue males. Second, the male parrotfishes also keep a harem of females, and when he dies, the alpha
female of his harem switches sex becoming a male. They also make a soft rasping sound when fish munches on
the algae growing on the corals.
7. Saddle Wrasse Or Hinalea Lau-wili
Who isn’t familiar with this energetic fish that swoops above the surface of the reef and flaps its pectoral fins?
The Saddle Wrasse probably has the most population in the Hawaiian waters. The fish got its name from the red
saddle found behind its pectoral fin. It is another exciting fish as it is also capable of changing sexes and has
varied body coloring for different stages of its life. The Saddle Wrasse can grow up to a foot long and are usually
found in waters with 15 to 17 feet deep.
8.Trumpetfish or Nunu
The Trumpetfish is a fish typically found in the waters of Maui with an elongated body and an upturned mouth.
As odd as their appearance, Trumpetfishes also swims vertically blending with the vertical corals like sea pens
and pipe sponges. They feed on small fishes and wrasses by quickly sucking them into its mouth. The fish can
grow up to 80 cm and swims in shallow water up to 30 meters deep.
9. Flounder or Pak’i’i
Flounder or Pak’i’I in Hawaiian term belongs to the Flatfish family and have an oval-shaped body with their eyes
on the top half of their body. Their oval shape allows them to have a good defense against predators especially
when they lie flat on the surface.
10. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle or Honu
Although the Hawaiian green sea turtle is not a fish, we thought this is a creature any Maui visitor must see! The Hawaiian green sea turtles are the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world and are one of the underwater
creatures that everyone anticipates to see when visiting Maui. Sad to say, they are now also considered an
endangered species. The good thing is that they find Maui sands as great nesting grounds like the Kealia pond on
South Maui that is why; you may spot them on the sandy beaches occasionally. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles can
grow up to 4 feet long and can weigh up to 400 lbs.