Best time to travel to Hawaii

Birdwatching in Hawaii

Hawaii is home to a number of rare birds and a great number of seabirds

Best time: December–February


Hawaii is located far away from any continent and thus is home to some rare endemic birds. The Hawaiian Honeycreeper family, once over 50 species of forest birds, now with only 18 species left, is a must-see for birders around the world. Rare and endangered ’Akiapola’au, found only on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a Honeycreeper that has evolved into a kind of a woodpecker. You have a chance to spot it along Pu‘u La‘au trail, west of Mauna Kea State Park. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is another excellent spot to see the Hawaiian Hawk or ‘Io and the White-tailed Tropicbird or Koa‘e‘kea.

Alala, an endangered crow, is extinct in the wild. I’iwi, native Hawaiian nectar feeder, found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, in rainforests. Also, millions of seabirds gather on the northwestern chain of Hawaiian Islands. During the winter months, Laysan Albatross breed at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and are easily seen along with boobies, tropicbirds, frigatebirds, petrels and shearwaters.

Practical info

When is the best time to go birdwatching in Hawaii?

The birdwatching season in Hawaii is typically from December to February, coinciding with the winter season when seabirds breed at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This specific season is also conducive to sighting Laysan Albatross among other seabirds. Additionally, bird enthusiasts may want to consider visiting during the spring, when several of Hawaii's exotic birds engage in mating behavior. Show more

Where are some of the best locations in Hawaii to spot rare birds?

Hawaii boasts of an abundance of endemic species and specific spots that offer an opportunity to observe rare birds. Visitors may explore sites like Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, the Pu‘u La‘au trail near Mauna Kea State Park, and Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. They may also consider visiting the Pu'u Manamana trail on Oahu or the Alaka'i Wilderness Preserve in Kauai, known for birding and for witnessing the endangered 'Alala crow. Show more

What is the Hawaiian Honeycreeper family and why is it significant for birders?

The Hawaiian Honeycreeper family is an attractive bird group that bird enthusiasts worldwide consider a must-see. Once consisting of over 50 species, the number has decreased to only 18 species. They are known for their adaptive radiation, colorful beaks, and evolution into various niches. As an endemic species to Hawaii, they contribute to the significance of the Hawaiian birding experience that one cannot witness anywhere else in the world. Show more

Are there any unique birds that can only be found on specific Hawaiian Islands?

Hawaii prides itself on possessing exclusive species of birds, including the 'Akiapola'au, a kind of woodpecker Honeycreeper only found on the Pu'u La'au Trail of the Big Island. Additionally, the 'Alala, an endangered crow, can only be found within Kauai's boundaries. While some endemic species, such as the Oma'o and 'I'iwi, can be found across multiple Hawaiian Islands, others are confined to specific areas, emphasizing the uniqueness of each island. Show more

Can you see seabirds in Hawaii and where is the best place to spot them?

The North-western Hawaiian Islands are a breeding ground for millions of seabirds, making Hawaii an attractive spot for seabird sighting. Visitors can observe these birds during winter breeding season at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Besides Laysan Albatross, other seabirds inhabit the region, such as tropicbirds, boobies, petrels, shearwaters, and frigatebirds. A personalized boat tour led by an experienced guide can unlock an unforgettable experience with these birds. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin