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9 Most Dangerous Animals in Hawaii

Are you planning a trip to Hawaii and want to know how dangerous Hawaii is in terms of wild animals? Keep scrolling to find out the most dangerous animals in Hawaii worth knowing about.
This post about the most dangerous animals in Hawaii was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you planning a trip to Hawaii with your family?

The state of Hawaii is beautiful and full of fun activities for families. However, it’s important to know about the potential dangers that could be lurking in the water or on land when visiting this tropical paradise.

Today, we’re going over some of these dangerous creatures in Hawaii so you can stay safe during your visit!

You won’t want to miss out on all the amazing things there are to do in Hawaii just because there might be a few dangerous animals in Hawaii on land or in water.

We have everything from beaches and hikes to ziplining and snorkeling tours, so don’t let fear keep you away from an incredible vacation spot! Just make sure not to get too close if you see any signs of danger.

Keep scrolling to find out the most dangerous Hawaii animals to keep an eye out for.

What Are Some Dangerous Animals in Hawaii?

Here is a list of Hawaiian animals that are dangerous in the Hawaiian waters or land. From different shark species to poisonous spiders, these are the top dangerous things in Hawaii to watch out for.

Tiger Shark

One of your biggest concerns when venturing into any ocean might be sharks. After all, a plethora of films and media have sometimes instilled unrealistic fears of these beasts. In fact, there have only been 8 confirmed shark attack fatalities on the Hawaiian Islands since 1828.

The Tiger Shark is one of the most dangerous animals in Hawaii. Image of a tiger shark swimming in the water

Even when looking at shark attacks overall, and not necessarily deaths, one shark attack only occurs on the island on average every 1.59 years. So, while shark attacks should not be at the top of the list of your concerns, your safety only increases when learning exactly what to look out for in these cases.

The tiger shark is known as one of the most dangerous types of shark in Hawaii’s waters. They can grow up to 13 feet long and have tiger-like stripes across their body. Typically, sharks do not actually want to eat humans. Shark attacks mostly occur when a shark mistakes a human for a turtle or other creature.

Tiger sharks have a very undiscerning palate and, therefore, don’t tend to swim away after biting an unfortunate human. When planning to swim in Hawaii’s waters, be sure to do some research ahead of time on the status and staff at the beach you’re visiting.

Some other sharks you might find around the Hawaiian islands include Whitetip Reef sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Bull Sharks, and Galapagos sharks.

Sharks are some of the most dangerous sea creatures in Hawaii to watch out for.

Moray Eels

Eels, and moray eels, in particular, are dangerous creatures to be avoided in Hawaii. These creatures hide in underwater holes, sea beds, and beneath rocks.

Find out why the moray eel is one of the most dangerous animals in Hawaii. Image of a moray eel off the coast of Maui.

Moray eels, in particular, can grow up to 13 feet long and have sharp teeth and a tendency to attack anyone who invades their space. Damage from eels typically comes from bites, which can result in muscle damage.

Otherwise, they are not very aggressive. To avoid moray eels, refrain from moving rocks or other plant objects around when swimming.

Dragon Moray Eels have razor-sharp teeth and are the most common to bite.

Eels are also most active at night, so avoid the idea of a midnight swim. In general, remember that swimming in the ocean is participating in a whole new realm owned by aquatic life. Respect life within the waters and stay aware of beach restrictions and guidelines to keep you and your family safe.

Eel bites are extremely painful, so be extra careful when you are out in the ocean.

Giant Scolopendra Centipede

The scolopendra centipede, also known as the giant centipede, is known in Hawaii for its painful bite, causing extreme pain, swelling, and red patches. These centipedes are relatively common on hiking trails. Clinics and emergency rooms in the Aloha state often house at least one patient suffering from these bugs that can grow to be 10-12”.

The giant Scolopendra Centipede is a dangerous Hawaii animal. Image of a red centipede in the rainforest.

Bites from a scolopendra centipede are described as agonizing, especially when they occur on fingers or toes. If you see one outside, it’s best to steer clear of it. Be warned that they are more likely to explore for food at night to avoid the scorching sun.

If you are unlucky enough to get bitten by a giant centipede, do your best to remove it from your skin as quickly as possible, as they tend to cling with their very sharp teeth. It is one of the most dangerous insects in Hawaii.

Monitor your pain and swelling, and visit a local hospital if your symptoms worsen. Many bites can heal without professional medical care, but local medics are also well-trained to handle these centipede bites.

The Brown Recluse Spider

Adding to our list of animals to steer clear of at night, is the brown recluse spider. Also known as the brown violin spider, this spider has spindly legs and markings reminiscent of the stringed instrument on its back. It will bite in self-defense but is not known to be particularly aggressive.

The Brown Recluse Spider is one of the most dangerous animals in Hawaii. Image of a brown spider.

A bite from this spider, however, can cause pain, vomiting, and dizziness. Be careful in dark spaces and when setting up camping sites in the Aloha state. These spiders like to hide under woodpiles and rocks.

Other spiders you might see in Hawaii, include the brown widow spider, cane spider, and black widow spider. Each can be quite dangerous bugs in Hawaii. The bites can cause headaches, swelling, and pain.

Box Jellyfish

There are several types of jellyfish in Hawaii, with the box jellyfish being the most notable. This creature’s body is bell-shaped but still has a few “corners” for which it was named “boxy.” It can be the most dangerous animal in the Pacific Ocean.

The box jellyfish is one of the many dangers in Hawaii. Image of a box jellyfish in the ocean.

The box jellyfish’s tentacles can deliver a nasty sting and have caused public health problems, particularly at Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.

The biggest threats to box jellyfish stings include difficulty breathing and shock. Less serious side effects include swelling, muscle weakness, and hives. Thankfully, the purple or blue colors of the box jellyfish make it relatively easy to spot.

To protect you and your loved ones from box jellyfish, make sure that you only swim on beaches with lifeguards on duty and up-to-date websites with water statuses. 

If you get a box jellyfish sting, seek help right away if you have abdominal pain, chest pains, and sweating. Jellyfish is a dangerous fish in Hawaii to look out for.

If you see lots of the blue bubbles on the sand, it is probably best to avoid going into the ocean.

Cone Snails

Cone snails are a particularly important and dangerous animal to stay aware of when visiting Hawaii with young kids. Banded Marble Cone Snails are relatively unassuming in appearance, with gorgeous and intricate shells.

Image of a cone snail in Hawaii.

However, these snails are called pupu poniuniu in Hawaiian, which translates to “dizzy shell.” And for good reason! Some species of these cone snails hold enough venom to induce anaphylactic shock in humans.

Thankfully, only a handful of cone snail species are dangerous enough to cause death. Other species can cause bee sting-like symptoms. Therefore, if you spot a cone snail on the beach of Hawaii, it’s best to hope that it is a less venomous species and steer clear. 

Shell collecting is a fun beachside activity for many children, but it’s important to stay by their side to avoid sharp edges, general trash, and dangerous creatures.

Yellow Bellied Sea Snakes

A yellow-bellied sea snake is one of the poisonous snakes of Hawaii. It is on Hawaii animals list of things to avoid.

It is one of the many dangerous animals in the ocean. The brown bodies have a yellow belly. Often, they will be under the water, while other times, they come in groups to the shore to wait for prey.

The yellow-bellied sea snake has a highly potent neurotoxic venom that is harmful to humans. However, these snakes are quite timid, so it is pretty rare to get bitten in Hawaii.

There are a few other snakes in Hawaii, but they are not usually venomous. The Brahminy blind snake, along with the brown tree snake, are also found in Hawaii. Brown tree snakes are venomous and one of the dangerous animals in Maui.

These snakes are invasive species, and while there are many protocols to ensure snakes don’t come to the islands, these made it past that.

Sea Urchins

Sea urchins also have venom that is quite painful when you are snorkeling or scuba diving. While getting stabbed will not kill you, it will hurt badly.

To avoid getting hurt by one, try not to step on coral at all. If you want snorkeling or diving, be sure to wear strong sea shoes.

Thorns Starfish

Another one of the dangerous animals in Kauai is a Thorns Starfish. The spikes on this creature have venom that can cause persistent bleeding, swelling, vomiting, and a few other uncomfortable symptoms.

You can find these starfish while out snorkeling or diving.

If you do get the toxins from a thorns starfish, be sure to go to the doctor. They can help with the pain and make sure you will be okay.

Dangerous Animals Hawaii FAQs

Are there poisonous snakes in Hawaii?

One of the top questions tourists wonder about is, “Does Hawaii have snakes?” While most places will say that there are no snakes in Hawaii, the real answer is a bit complicated. There are no native snakes to Hawaii, and it’s illegal to bring any into Hawaii. But, are there any snakes in Hawaii? Yes, there are the yellow-bellied sea snakes that are quite venomous.

Are there cockroaches in Hawaii?

Holy moly! YES! In fact, there are more than a dozen species of cockroaches living in Hawaii. They are a common sight in homes and buildings. The good news is that they rarely bite. But, they can get big and bother people with allergies.

Are there alligators in Hawaii?

No! Alligators are not native to Hawaii, so the only place you might see them is at the zoo. Are there crocodiles in Hawaii? Nope! The main Hawaiian lizards you’ll find are cute little geckos, which can be spotted in hotels, homes, businesses, restaurants, etc.

What can kill you in Hawaii?

There are a few deadly animals in Hawaii. A yellow-bellied sea snake can be poisonous and, if left untreated, might kill some people. Other Hawaii deadly animals can include box jellyfish, some sharks, and a few other things.

Are there mountain lions in Hawaii?

There are no mountain lions in Hawaii. Are there bears in Hawaii? No, you won’t find bears in Hawaii either.

Are there any poisonous animals in Hawaii?

There are quite a few Hawaii dangerous animals, and most of them are poisonous. The poisonous things in Hawaii are extremely dangerous, and if you get bit, it will be extremely painful, but most can be treated and taken care of.

Are there scorpions in Hawaii?

There are scorpions in Hawaii, but they are not poisonous. The lesser brown scorpion can sting and hurt you but it will not kill you.

What is the largest land predator in Hawaii?

There are no real land predators in Hawaii. Tigar Sharks are the top predator in Hawaii. Wild pigs are probably the Hawaii jungle animals found in Hawaii that can hurt you. The females protecting their young piglets will more than likely attack.

Keeping Your Family Safe from the Dangerous Animals of Hawaii

These were a few of the most dangerous wildlife in Hawaii.

When it comes to staying safe during your Hawaiian vacation, it all comes down to staying aware and following beachside protocol. Many of Hawaii’s creatures are glorious and non-aggressive unless you accidentally invade their space.

Out of all the animals that live in Hawaii, only a few are dangerous.

Keep a close eye on curious kids and enjoy observing Hawaii’s flora and fauna from a safe distance.

Ready to plan your Hawaii trip? Explore the best experiences to book and places to stay here on Hawaii Travel with Kids.

Want to know more about Hawaii animals? Learn about the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle and geckos!