Are there alligators or crocodiles in Hawaii?

I think you probably know by now that alligators and crocodiles are not the same. 

But to answer your question:

No, there aren’t any alligators or crocodiles native to Hawaii. The Hawaiian laws strictly forbid the import of exotic animals or creatures that endanger the islands’ ecosystem.

From what I can tell, you can rest assured that you will not find them there in the future either.

If you are a reptile lover and plan to move to Hawaii, you should check the local laws first as you will most likely have to leave your beloved pet behind.

Speaking about the law, I hope you know that you can travel to Hawaii without a passport.

As a side note, I wrote an article about the best places you can travel without a passport which you can find here.

Why do some people believe that alligators or crocodiles live in Hawaii?

In the past, there were some stupid movies which I’m not going to name that showcase groups of tourists being hunted down by alligators on the Hawaiian islands because… it’s cool.

The fact that one of the beaches in Hawaii is named Alligator Rock Beach is also confusing. When people first hear the name, they immediately think about alligators.

Who can blame them?

There is an Alligator beach without alligators.

The beach is named that because seen from afar, the rocks there resemble a congregation of huge alligators.

The locals must have scared their children with this story, thus preventing them from getting closer to the water.

Some small reptiles native to the island can be confused with baby alligators by the untrained eye, but there have only been false alarms so far.

It is true that in the last 40 years, there have been a couple of instances when privately owned alligators and crocodiles escaped. Yet still, you would have a higher chance of winning the PowerBall’s jackpot than encountering an alligator on the Hawaiian islands.

If you want to find crocodiles or alligators in Hawaii, your only chance will be at the zoo. However, the shops in Hawaii do offer products made from alligator or crocodile skins, although at a price that will keep any sane person away.

What dangerous animals live in Hawaii that you should know about

Hawaii is one of the safest subtropical locations where you can go and spend your free time. But even the safest places pose some risks. The waters near the Hawaiian islands are way more dangerous than the land.

On land, you should keep an eye open for these species: 

The brown tree snake – this creature is not native to Hawaii, as it was brought to the island by merchant ships.

This snake has a unique ability that enables it to conquer new lands: it can survive for long periods without eating. When it eventually does eat, its diet consists of small birds, reptiles, and rodents. But, as you might guess from its name, it does spend most of its time in trees.

The issue is that it’s highly territorial and will attack on sight. The good news is that the brown tree snake bite is only mildly venomous, and it shouldn’t present a life-threatening danger to adult humans. However, in rare instances, its venom can be fatal to children or toddlers.

The brown tree snake doesn’t prefer the Hawaiian islands, yet some people have reported seeing it.

Because it’s extremely rare, you shouldn’t worry about encountering it in Hawaii. However, if by any chance you see one, please call the local authorities.

The brown violin spider –  this is not an aggressive species, but it will bite in self-defense.

Although not life-threatening, you don’t want to be bitten by one. Severe pain and dizziness are on the menu.

Luckily it is a nocturnal creature, and it does like to stay in isolated spots where it catches its prey.

There are also three other species of venomous spiders on the islands, but you don’t need to bother with trying to memorize how they look.

Remember that they become aggressive only when disturbed, so as a rule of thumb, try to avoid spiders in general.

Their venom will not kill you but it will ruin your day.

If you have children, then instruct them never to play with spiders in Hawaii.

In the water, the number of creatures you should keep your distance from is way higher;

Tiger shark – a native of the Pacific ocean, the tiger shark does pose a threat to humans. Luckily humans are not what they prefer to eat.

Once in a blue moon, they will bite a person out of curiosity then leave immediately. On the bright side, the chance of being attacked by a tiger shark is slim, as they usually keep their distance from humans. Only a couple of attacks are reported every year.

In the last 100 years, under ten people have died from a shark attack – one in 10 years. So statistically speaking, there is a higher chance that your sandwich will kill you before a tiger shark will in Hawaii.

I know that the sandwich doesn’t possess those fierce teeth, but food poisoning kills more people than sharks, yet nobody seems to care about that.

Great white sharks were also spotted in the Hawaiian waters, though it seems this spot is not their hunting ground.

Long-spined venomous sea urchins – locals call this creature “wana.” It can be found attached to rocks or coral in the islands’ waters. It doesn’t attack as this is a stationary creature.

Everyone who has had a bad encounter with one has the same story: they stepped on it.

If you, by any chance, step on one, then try to ignore the pain and carefully raise your foot.

Your main concern should be removing the spines without breaking them.

The fine spines break easily and remain in the skin for a long time, so try not to walk if possible.

When removing them, tweezers are not recommended.

It’s better if another person extracts the spines one by one. In most cases, parts of the spine will remain in your foot.

Vinegar applied to the affected area will do wonders in removing the last bits of them. If that doesn’t help, apply vinegar compresses a couple of times a day. In time the vinegar should dissolve the spines.

In rare instances when the spines are lodged too deeply, surgical removal is necessary.

The venom delivered by sea urchins is not life-threatening, but people with anaphylactic reactions should have their EpiPen with them.

Wearing beach shoes and staying away from the waters where sea urchins thrive are the only ways of prevention.

Cone snails – it’s best if you don’t collect cone snail shells because some have a venom that packs a serious punch. It is enough to kill a human.

Unfortunately, all the cone snails native to Hawaii look similar to each other, and you will not be able to tell for sure which ones are poisonous. So it’s better to avoid them altogether if you want to dodge a trip to the emergency room.

There haven’t been any registered deaths from cone snails in Hawaii in recent history, mainly because the locals know that they are dangerous and don’t try to consume them.

Moray eel – these eels are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in Hawaii. The natives call them Puhi, which sounds easier to remember.

This animal has a strong jaw and razor-sharp teeth, and it hunts by staying in holes or under rocks waiting for its prey to come in range. When that happens, it swiftly attacks, giving the poor creature no chance of survival.

Most of the species on the islands have patterned bodies that increase their camouflage abilities. Interestingly, this creature’s flesh is poisonous, and if some predator decides to feast on it, it will most likely die.

Nevertheless, moray eels are not aggressive to humans. The moray eel is a shy, nocturnal creature that will not attack unless provoked.

One sure way of knowing that what you are seeing is a moray eel is that they regularly open and close their big mouths. They don’t do that to intimidate you; it’s just their way of breathing.

There are places where you can catch small marine animals by sticking your hand into holes. I do not recommend trying this in Hawaii if you care about your fingers. Eventually, you will catch a moray eel, or worse, it will catch you. 

There have been instances when people bitten by a moray eel thought that a shark attacked them.

What is the most dangerous animal in Hawaii?

Unfortunately, the two-legged beast is by far the most dangerous “animal.” The violent crime rate in Hawaii in 2021 was 2.9 per 1000 people. Despite this, Hawaii has lower crime rates than the national rate.

Aggravated assault makes up for 53% of all violent crimes in Hawaii. Therefore, you should keep your guard up in isolated spots and not wear flashy jewelry or have a large sum of cash on you. You don’t want to attract unnecessary attention.

The number 2 most dangerous animal is the box jellyfish.

The box jellyfish’s tentacles can reach up to 7ft in length, and every tentacle is full of stinging cells. Unfortunately, the venom is also incredibly poisonous, and if you try to remove the tentacles, more venom will be discharged.

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where a tentacle or parts of one are attached to your body. In that case, you should remove the stinging tentacle by using a bag, towel, napkin, or any material that will protect your hand.

Whatever you do, please don’t remove it with your bare hands. Afterward, rinse the affected area with seawater.

A Hawaiian myth still circulates that urinating on the affected area will make the victim feel better, but it’s actually just a stupid thing to do without any healing properties. 

The toxin from the venom will mainly attack the nervous system and might cause cardiac arrest.

It will also attack your skin cells leaving visible scars for the rest of your life. Not to mention the excruciating pain is similar to being burned and you will have to endure it for up to 10 hours. 

There are two ways to protect yourself from their sting. One is to wear a protective suit when swimming in their territory. The second one is to avoid entering the waters during jellyfish season.

Nowadays, you can also find anti-jellyfish sting protective lotions on the market, but truth be told, they don’t work. 

Number 3 on the list of the most dangerous creatures is the bluebottle jellyfish, also known as the Portuguese man-of-war.

This jellyfish’s color makes it difficult to spot it in shallow waters. Its sting is similar to that of the box jellyfish. If you happen to find one of these creatures lying on the beach, don’t touch it. The tentacles can be poisonous for a few days after its death.

Beachgoers who have been unfortunate enough to be stung by one reported that their sting feels like a burning laser moving over the skin.

The good news is that although the pain is excruciating, you will likely live. The sting is very rarely fatal and mostly only to allergic people.

Are there any poisonous scorpions in Hawaii?

There aren’t any poisonous scorpions in Hawaii, but there is a scorpion species on the islands. The lesser brown scorpion is a nocturnal creature, and they do sting. Their sting is similar to the one you will get from a bee or wasp.

Curious pets are more likely to be stung by one, and in that instance, you shouldn’t worry about your pet’s wellbeing.

When the pain passes, your pet will have learned their lesson and will not disturb the scorpion again.

Are alligators as dangerous as crocodiles?

As a general rule: no, because alligators are more opportunistic and choose their fights carefully compared to the more aggressive crocodiles. You need to really annoy an alligator for it to attack you, but a crocodile will chase you down on sight.

This doesn’t mean that alligators are like puppies and that you shouldn’t feel threatened by them.

Mostly young alligators are the ones that bite people because of their lack of experience, yet you definitely don’t want to be the person that will level up a young alligator.

Is Hawaii importing crocodiles?

No, they’re not. That was a bad Facebook joke, and for some reason, some people believed it. Crocodiles don’t protect people from shark attacks. It is a known fact that people can swim in waters with sharks but you can’t do that in crocodile-infested waters.

You can dive with crocodiles, but you might not get out.

Conclusion:

As you can see, alligators and crocodiles should be the least of your worries when visiting the islands.

The highest number of tourist incidents in Hawaii that involve a creature are from sea urchins. They are abundant in Hawaiian waters, and people step on them all the time.

Hawaii is not Pandora. There aren’t any creatures here that “want to kill you and eat your eyes for Jujubes.”

Statistically speaking, the freeway is more dangerous than the Hawaiian islands.