Ni'ihau

The mysterious and privately owned island of Ni'ihau.

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Matt Anderson's Take
Ni'ihau is the seventh largest and westernmost island in the inhabited Hawaiian Island chain. Its size is 69.5 square miles and it's located 17.5 miles southwest of Kaua'i across the Kaulakahi Channel. It also has one of the smallest populations with just over 100 people who live there.


The island was purchased by Elizabeth Sinclair from the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1864 and that private ownership has passed onto the Robinson family, her descendants. Because this is a privately owned island, there is no real tourism here and you can't step foot on this island without permission. This is the reason it's commonly know as The Forbidden Isle.

Only a few tour companies have permission to approach Niihau, so if you want to see this island check out Holo Holo Charters and Niihau Helicopters. Otherwise, you'll have to contact the current owners and managers of the island which are Bruce and Keith Robinson. Even then, expect to be denied permission.


The Robinson family seems to be more interested in keeping this island what it is, which is old Hawaii. In fact, the population here speaks Hawaiian as their primary language and live very much like Hawaiians did many years ago. The Robinsons have even turned down a $1 billion offer to buy the island from the U.S. Government.

Read for an interesting Niihau factoid? During World War II, this was the site of the famous Niihau Incident. A Japanese fighter pilot crashed his plane here but survived the crash. He then terrorized the island residents for a week after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor (see Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial).
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