Honu (Sea turtle) basking along the shore of the Royal Garden.

Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle)
While visiting the Royal Grounds, walk along the shore and examine the rocks. Do any of them move? Most of the rocks are black with angled edges. Do you see any that are round and lighter colored? If yes, then you are probably looking at a honu basking in the sun at low tide, and taking a break from foraging. Honu can also be seen in the water, twisting and flipping with the current, as these ocean vegetarians scrape algae from the rocks.

Of the seven species of sea turtles found in the world, honu are most likely the only indigenous reptiles observed at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Honu, like other sea turtles were hunted to an endangered status but are now a protected species and are recovering.


Mo'o (water spirit, reptile, lizard)
Mo'o is a spirit guardian (lizard) that protects a resource, such as a fishpond.

Don't be surprised if one of the first animals you see in the park is a gecko. Geckos have been in Hawaii since the Polynesians first arrived, likely as stowaways on the voyaging canoes. Five species of geckos occur in the park. Although two were originally described as endemic, it is currently believed that none of the terrestrial reptiles are native to Hawaii.

A Recent Arrival
The blind snake is believed to have been accidentally introduced to Hawai'i in the 1930's in a landscaping shipment from the Philippines. This snake casts no fear in people as it is very small, looks like an black earthworm and can rarely by seen.

Gold Dust Day Gecko
The most commonly seen lizard in the park is the non-native Gold Dust Day Gecko. This specie was released on the island in 1974. Day geckos feed on small insects and potentially pose a problem for native invertebrates. 

Reptiles observed in the park:

Green Anole (Anolis carolinesis)
Jackson's Chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii)
Stumped-toed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata)
Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)
Indo-Pacific Tree Gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus typus)
Garden Skink (Lampropholis delicata)
Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)
Gold Dust Day Gecko (Phelsuma laticauda)
Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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