Maui is home to some unique and interesting plants and animals. Since Hawaii is one of the most isolated places in the world, there are some plants and animals that can only be found here. Maui also contains many different biomes, from desert, to rainforest, to aquatic. This is especially amazing when you consider its small size, only 727 square miles! If you have a chance to view Maui from the air, you will be astounded by the diversity and beauty of the island. Below is some more information on some of Maui’s different plants and animals.
There are only two mammals that are native to Maui, the monk seal and the Hawaiian hoary bat. Both are endangered. Currently there are 44 species of birds that are found only in Hawaii (there used to be 142, but 95 are extinct). 33 of these birds are endangered. The Maui parrotbill is a species that is only found in Maui, on the windward side of Haleakala. The Nene goose, Hawaii’s state bird, is another endangered species that has one of its larger populations in Maui. Hawaii also has many unique fish, in fact, more than 20% of Hawaiian reef fish cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Although the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Hawaii’s state fish) is native to Hawaii, it can be found in other regions as well.
Hawaii is home to more than 2,500 unique kinds of plants. The Ōhi'a tree is native Hawaii and is the first tree to grow in a new lava field, about 100 years after the flow. Its flowers, Lehua blossoms, have no petals, but are brush-like, and usually red in color, although they can also be orange, yellow, or white. Silversword are only found on Haleakala between 7,000-10,000 feet. Koa trees are the largest native trees in Hawaii. Koa wood is beautiful and one of the most expensive woods in the world, used to make furniture and other goods, and was the used to make some of the first surfboards.
Other Plants and Animals of Interest
Some additional animals that are a must see in Maui include whales and sea turtles. Humpback whales migrate to Maui from Alaska, arriving around the beginning of October and staying through mid-May. There are three different types of sea turtles that are native to Hawaii including the Green, Hawksbill, and Leatherback. The Green Sea Turtle is the most common. If you are lucky, you might get the chance to see these animals from the air if you decide to take a helicopter tour. Spinner dolphins, manta rays, and Molokai mountain goats have also been spotted on flights!
Some additional plants that are important to Maui include ti leaves and taro, which are used in traditional Hawaiian foods, and orchids, plumeria, and kukui nuts, which are used in traditional lei.
Invasive species are non-native plants or animals that cause negative effects to the natural habitat. Some invasive animals on Maui include the mongoose and the axis deer. Mongoose were brought to Hawaii in 1883 in an attempt to get rid of rats. Since rats are nocturnal and mongoose hunt during the day, this didn’t really work. Mongoose threaten the native bird population. Axis deer were brought to Maui in 1959 for hunting. Since they have no natural predators, their large population threatens forests. Eucalyptus trees are also an invasive species. Brought to Maui in 1870, they choke out other native plant life.
Here is what some of our guests have to share about seeing the scenery of Maui from the air, including its beautiful rainforests, deserts, coastline and exciting wildlife!
“My boyfriend and I had an excellent experience. I have lived in West Maui for 12 years and it was awesome to see the island from a different perspective!! Molokai is so massive from up above and the sea cliffs were amazing. We saw a herd of goats climbing the side of a cliff which was so funny. On the way back we saw one of the last whales to leave Maui on their way home to Alaska. The staff was very knowledgeable and full of Aloha. Mahalo for the great trip!” - aimee632
“Air Maui helicopter tour to Molokai was absolutely fantastic. The views of the mountains, waterfalls and wildlife were epic. We flew over whales and our pilot, Cameron would hover over top to get amazing views from above. We saw manta rays, and surfers. The amazing images will stay with us forever. The pilot had a great music playlist and gave a great narrative of all that we were seeing. Well worth the cost and would absolutely recommend Air Maui.” - Rbhali
“We saw over a dozen whales, a manta ray swimming over a white sand bottom, schools of fish, sea turtles and some spectacular scenery on both Maui and Molokai.” - PaulLinda832
“Take this adventure!! It was SPECTACULAR! We did the hour flight around Maui, Rich was our pilot and he explained everything from the topography to the different trees. The best part was seeing whales from above- you don't usually get to see the entire whale and only from above can you truly appreciate their size. You will not be disappointed if you decide to do this.” - Dorothy H
“A highlight of our trip to Maui... the views of West Maui over the rainforests and flying right down into the lush valleys was amazing and then the trip over Molokai and seeing the longest waterfalls flowing almost straight down off the cliffs into the valleys and ocean were phenomenal. Our pilot was friendly, funny and extremely experienced and knowledgeable about all the areas we toured. He flew us close enough to the cliffs to see the mountain goats high up on the ledges. Fabulous company, friendly staff!!!” - Lynn H
“Highlight of our trip. One of the best experiences of my life. Did the Molokai trip. Great views. Saw whales and dolphins from the chopper. Couldn't have asked for anything more.” - DtravellerR