Are There Monkeys in Hawaii? [A Complete Guide]

Hawaii is a tropical paradise that attracts millions of visitors every year. The islands are famous for their stunning beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Here, you can enjoy many exciting activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and sailing. A query arises amidst this beautiful landscape: Are there monkeys in Hawaii? The short answer is NO, there are no wild monkeys in Hawaii. Let’s investigate the reasons behind this absence.

Are There Monkeys in Hawaii?

Hawaii is a beautiful place but you won’t find any monkeys swinging from the trees there. The only mammals that are native to Hawaii are the hoary bat and the monk seal. It also has some reptiles and amphibians that are unique to the islands, such as the green sea turtle and the Hawaiian coqui frog.

Green Sea Turtle Hawaii
Green Sea Turtle Hawaii

Naturally, no animal can reach there whether it’s a monkey, lion, or bear. This is because Hawaii is smack in the middle of the ocean, about 2,500 miles away from other places (where animals live). Most of the animals were introduced by people who came to the islands in the 1800s and early 1900s. They brought animals like pigs, goats, sheep, and horses.

Reason For the Absence of Monkeys in Hawaii

According to the National Science Foundation, researchers have found fossils of monkeys in North America when the Earth was much warmer and wetter. This time is called the Eocene Epoch, and it lasted from 56 to 33.9 million years ago. During the Eocene Epoch, there were rainforests everywhere, even in places like Alaska.

Eocene Epoch
Eocene Epoch

However, the earth’s climate and geography underwent a radical transformation at the end of the Eocene Epoch. The water that separated Antarctica and South America closed up, and the two oceans (the Pacific and the Atlantic) became connected.

This made the Earth cooler and many animals, especially monkeys, could not adapt to this change. This event is called the Grande Coupure. Due to this, monkeys disappeared from North America and never came back.

As you may know, Hawaii is a very young place compared to other places. It is made up of islands that were formed by volcanoes erupting under the sea. The oldest island, Kauai, is only about 5.1 to 7 million years old. By the time Hawaii was formed, monkeys were already gone from North America. So they had no chance to get to Hawaii by themselves.

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Zoo in Hawaii: A Place to See Monkeys?

The Honolulu Zoo on Oahu Island is the place to go if you want to see monkeys in Hawaii. There are six lovable, threatened black-handed spider monkeys that you can see. The following are their names:

Honolulu Zoo: Monkeys in Hawaii
Honolulu Zoo
  • Spaz
  • Pikake
  • Kahea
  • Cricket
  • Black Head
  • Phoebe

Every monkey has its unique personality and behavior. You can watch them leaping from branch to branch, interacting with one another, and creating sounds. Their home has been upgraded, offering them more space to move around, and more opportunities for climbing.

Encounterable Animals in Hawaii

Despite the absence of monkeys, Hawaii is home to a wide variety of interesting animals. The following is a recommended reading list for animal lovers who are also interested in visiting Hawaii:


A unique fish in Hawaii is the Hawaiian triggerfish, commonly known as the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. It serves as the state fish. Normally green or brown, this fish has orange spots, blue lips, a black line down its side, and yellow stripes across its back. It can weigh up to four pounds and is roughly 12 inches long.


The Hawaiian triggerfish have been known to bite swimmers and can occasionally be a little unfriendly. Therefore, we advise allowing them some room if you’re sharing the water with them. Coral reefs, tidal pools, and lagoons are popular habitats for these fish. They eat tiny fish, crabs, shrimp, and other tiny marine creatures.

Humpback Whale

Hawaii’s official sea creature is the humpback whale, also its main state animal. This choice isn’t surprising, as these whales hold great importance in Hawaiian culture and represent the state in many ways. According to Hawaiian beliefs, ancestors can appear as humpback whales in dreams to offer guidance. These whales are usually black with white on their fins, bellies, and tails.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

The tails of these whales can be very large, up to 18 feet wide, with rough edges. Their tails come in different colors and often show scars. These large creatures feed by filtering water and eating small shellfish, mainly tiny krill, and small fish.


The Nene, which is also known as the Hawaiian Goose, is the bird that represents Hawaii. Experts believe that the Nene originally came from Canadian geese. However, as time passed, it became its unique kind and only lives in Hawaii currently.


This goose has a black head and a neck with black and white stripes. Its body is covered in brown and white feathers that create a striped pattern. Both male and female geese look the same, except males are bigger.

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Experts have found no evidence of wild monkeys being present in Hawaii. With that being said, you might be able to spot a few at the Honolulu Zoo but that’s all. We hope that we have cleared the air about this myth of monkeys being in Hawaii.

For related tips to travel, we recommend you visit our section “Travel Explained”.

Are There Monkeys in Hawaii? - FAQs

Are there any wild monkeys in Hawaii?

No, there are no wild monkeys in Hawaii. Monkeys are not native to the islands, and there is no evidence to support their presence in the local wildlife.

Why aren’t there monkeys in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s isolation in the middle of the ocean and its unique climate prevented monkeys, as well as other animals like lions or bears, from naturally reaching the islands. The introduction of animals by humans in the 1800s and early 1900s did not include monkeys.

How did animals like pigs and goats get to Hawaii if monkeys didn’t?

Animals like pigs, goats, and horses were intentionally introduced to Hawaii by humans for various reasons, such as farming and hunting. These animals were brought to the islands, unlike monkeys, which didn’t make their way there naturally.

What are some unique animals found in Hawaii?

Hawaii has its own unique wildlife, including the hoary bat, monk seal, green sea turtle, Hawaiian coqui frog, Hawaiian triggerfish, and humpback whales. The Nene, also known as the Hawaiian Goose, is the state bird and is found only in Hawaii.

Sara Anwar
Sara Anwar is hopdes' US director and a globetrotter. She joined the Hopdes team in July 2022. She has done more than 300,000 miles back and forth. She's been to more than 80% of the world, and her passion for understanding different cultures has only grown stronger with time. A traveler at heart, she loves to experience new cultures and learn new languages. Sara's wealth of travel experience makes her the perfect person to oversee a travel website – after all, who knows better what travelers want and need than she does?