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The Story Behind Niihau: Forbidden Island in Hawaii

Hawaii is known as a tourist island full of modern facilities. But today let’s find out the story behind Niihau: Forbidden Island in Hawaii.

Pristine Treasure – Niihau Hawaii’s Forbidden Island


The locals called Niihau the “Forbidden Island” in Kauai. It’s because, in fact, none of the treasured coastlines is as pristine as those of Niihau. 

Though it’s close to modern culture, there is running water or roadway here. People who live here mainly rely on solar-powered electricity. They also speak their own traditional Hawaiian dialect. They make ends meet entirely by a self-sustainable way of growing, hunting, and foraging.

The freedom from the limitations of the current lifestyle on this island has attracted many outsiders’ attention. It soon becomes a must-see spot on their map.

A Promise To The King


Elizabeth Sinclair-Robinson is a plantation owner in Hawaii and New Zealand. But her actual homeland is Scotland. In 1864, she bought the Niihau Island from King Kamehameha V for $10,000. With this deal, she promised to keep the native Hawaiian culture.

The residents of the Puuwai village spoke a patois and carried on practicing hula. Hula dance was a kind of entertainment for specific events. This is also a way to maintain and hand down their history.

In Hawaii, the land wasn’t the property of anyone. As a result, the residents here can live freely without taking the responsibility of renting land. Livestock and wild animals that roamed the ground were neighboring inhabitants of the island as well.

Niihau Shell


This island sits off Kauai’s western coast. Thus, Niihau people living on the forbidden island is self-sustaining. They grow and hunt whatever they need on a daily basis. However, living in an extremely dry climate requires the locals to depend on resources from Kauai to survive. 

To earn money, villagers lean heavily on the small Niihauan shell. Niihau shell is the rarest shell in the world. Niihau is the only place that has this shell. Its value comes from many features. The first one is its diligent details. Then, the amount of work in making it. It’s a completely hand-crafted good.

The locals find these shells along the beaches. There are many kinds of shells as well. The common colors are white, yellow, green, and pink. Its price ranges from $100 to $30,000.

This shell used to be the flower symbolizing Niihau. However, the temperature here wasn’t suitable for flowers to bloom. It takes years and a large number of people to produce Niihauan shell leis. As a result, this accessory is incredibly valuable throughout the world.

Visit The “Forbidden Island” in Kauai, Hawaii


As tourists’ interest in the “Forbidden Island” is increasing, more and more tours, hence, start to spring up. These tours take you from Kauai by boat to close enough to the island. Or you can definitely change to another vehicle, a helicopter, for example, to reach there.

If you want to experience the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, this place is indeed ideal for you.

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Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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