More than 10 million visitors flock every year to the state of Hawaii to witness the majesty of its unique islands, indulge in the savory Hawaiian food, and enjoy the mesmerizing views of the state's pristine magnificent beaches that no one will ever find something like anywhere else in the world. Hawaii is distinguished by its pristine coastline of 750 miles with volcanoes in the middle, its rich ancient culture, and a famous cuisine that offered the world the ambrosial poke bowls.


Perhaps the most prominent hallmark of the state of Hawaii is its 8 main islands located in the North Pacific. These include the Hawaii Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Although the last two islands are forbidden to visitors, people constantly find ways to get into magical Niihau to get the chance to admire a marvelous creation that'll take them into a world of scenic imagery and unique beauty.

Updated by Gabriel Kirellos, January 8th, 2022: While it's forbidden to enter Niihau in Hawaii, people manage to find some official and unofficial ways to get through and witness this magical island. After all, it's called Forbidden Island for a reason. This article was updated to include additional convenient ways which people can use to access the island of Niihau, including a boat tour.

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Learn The History Of Niihau, Hawaii’s Forbidden Island

The exclusive island of Niihau has been owned by private investors for more than 150 years and has a small number of residents, amounting to around 170 people in total. Niihau is commonly referred to as Hawaii's Forbidden Island, and the only way to get there is through securing an invitation. Fame and money have nothing to do with the exclusivity approach of Niihau.

The island is forbidden to outsiders because its owners have pledged to protect the land from the outside world. They promised to preserve the heritage of their island, following the requests of a former Hawaiian King. The island is small with a surface area of only 69.5 square miles and is 17.5 miles away from the island of Kauai. Niihau was purchased in 1864 by Scottish homemaker Elizabeth Sinclair. The latter bought the island for $10,000 and then passed on the ownership to her descendants, the Robinsons. Government officials, the US navy, the Robinsons, and their relatives are the only people allowed to enter Niihau. Residents of the island adopt the Hawaiian dialect as their primary language. They live off of fishing, farming, and welfare. Additionally, there are no rent payments in Niihau, and meat is free of charge all over the island.

Niihau: A Tale Of Magic And Fascination

Although Hawaii's Forbidden Island lacks modern technologies, electricity, restaurants, shops, developed roads, cars, hotels, or running water, it boasts the largest Lake in the state of Hawaii, the magical Lake Halalii. During winter and heavy rainfalls, the latter marvelously grows in size, which prompted naming it a playa or an intermittent lake. Moreover, Hawaii is rich with wildlife creatures rarely found in other places, such as Aoudad, Oryx, and Eland. Aoudads are wild goats, usually called Barbary sheep, while Oryxes are large antelopes with long straight horns. Elands are also antelopes, but they have large spiral horns compared to Oryxes. Most of those species are labeled as endangered. Cattle, sheep, and pigs are also pervasively present all over the island.

Furthermore, Niihau is characterized by its majestic Kiawe trees, known as the trees of life, and its designated glorious flower, the White Pupu Shell. Additionally, although Niihau does not depend on modern-day technologies, it surprisingly houses since 2007 the only school fully powered with solar electricity. With a vibrant culture, mesmerizing views, lots of intriguing secrets, and unique nature, people will do anything possible to get a glimpse of Hawaii's Forbidden Island, Niihau, and they have a point.

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Exceptions To The Rule: How To Turn Niihau Into Hawaii’s Unforbidden Island

For such a beautiful island surrounded by a load of mysteries and secrets, it is not surprising that one would move heaven and earth to get the chance to witness for real Hawaii's magisterial Forbidden Island. In general, a permanent resident of Niihau or a member of the Robinson family can initiate an invitation to the person wishing to visit the island. This procedure goes under the wishes of a former Hawaiian king. However, Niihau Helicopters and Niihau Safaris are two companies owned and managed by the Robinsons, the same owners of Niihau. People can visit the island by booking a helicopter tour through the Niihau Helicopters companies. The helicopter tour drops the visitors first on the magical Nanina Beach to fancy the white sand and crystal clear water under the summer sun.

Moreover, tourists will have the opportunity to sunbathe, swim, and snorkel, where they will witness loads of marine creatures, such as monk seals, sea turtles, and tropical fish. On the other hand, booking a hunting safari through the Niihau Safaris company can seem more adventurous. People will have the chance to hunt hybrid sheep, wild Polynesian boars, and a limited number of wild oryx, aoudad, and eland.

  • Cost of helicopter tours: $440 per person for half-day helicopter excursions. Group rates are also available.
  • Cost of hunting safaris: Starting at $1950 per day per person.

Additional Easy Ways To Visit Niihau

People who don't want to pay for a hunting safari or a helicopter tour to access Hawaii's forbidden island have some other options on hand. For instance, they can choose to book a boat tour, known as the Niihau + Napali Super Tour, offered by Holo-Holo Charters. The tour starts from Port Allen on Kauai, needs 7 hours to complete, and allows people to explore along the Napali coast of Kauai. Next, it crosses the Kaulakahi Channel and circles Lehua before reaching Niihau.

  • Food: When taking the Niihau + Napali Super Tour, people are treated to a buffet lunch with wine and beer.
  • Activities: People taking the boat tour will have the chance to snorkel in Niihau's waters.
  • Cost: The Niihau + Napali Super Tour costs $269 for adults and $239 for kids.
  • How to book: This boat tour can be booked directly with Holo-Holo Charters or on Get Your Guide or Viator.

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