Known as the “Forbidden Island,” Ni‘ihau is the little known 8th Hawaiian island that most visitors will only glimpse during a sunset on Kaua‘i’s western shore. Privately owned and off-limits to all but the few hundred native residents, Ni‘ihau is a rugged and remote island with idyllic beaches and azure blue waters teeming with marine life, from monk seals to schools of hammerhead and reef sharks. Your only chance to get a sneak peek at this pristine paradise is with one of the Niihau tours like Holoholo Charters, which offers all-inclusive excursions aboard state-of-the-art catamarans to the remote and exotic island and all of its unique geological attractions.
The Forbidden Island
Ni‘ihau was purchased by the Robinson family from the kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1864 for $10,000 in gold, with the stipulations that the Robinsons allow the native residents to remain in perpetuity, and that the island would continue to be a living preserve for traditional Hawaiian culture and language. Today it is home to between 30 and 200 full-time residents, all of whom live off the land. There is no power grid, no internet, and no roads.
The Forbidden Niihau Tours
To see Ni‘ihau, your only choice is from the sea with one of the Niihau tours in Kauai. Fortunately, the fantastic Forbidden Tour from Holoholo Charters is one of the best tours Kaua‘i offers. Your day begins sailing from southern Kaua‘i up the west coast, past the sweeping sand dunes of Polihale until you reach the Kalalau Valley side of the Na Pali Coast. The incredible coastline of steep ridges and deep valleys riddled with waterfalls is a breathtaking backdrop, but it pales in comparison to the next stage in your adventure.
Snorkeling Lehua Crater
As the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Ni‘ihau has had plenty of time to be carved and sculpted by the wind and waves. The result is on display at Lehua Crater, a partially submerged crescent-shaped volcanic caldera open to the sea on one side. Adorned with sea arches scoured by centuries of wave action, the entire site is home to incredible submarine topography. Upon crossing the channel from Kaua‘i, the expert guides from the Niihau tours in Kauai will take you to prime snorkel spots that dot the periphery of the crater; here you can swim among coral gardens teeming with native fish, explore the incredible rock formations, and frolic with curious green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals.
The incredible tour of the many Niihau tours is a full-day adventure, complete with a continental breakfast, gourmet lunch, and unlimited beverages. After snorkeling you will have the chance to see the rugged Ni‘ihau coastline up close before returning to port.