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Niihau Tours

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Niihau Tours

Niihau snorkeling Tours are the primary tours that are offered of the Hawaiian Island of Niihau. This remote island requires a full day commitment to cruise to but there is a huge 'payoff' in terms of the quality of snorkeling for you there. Teeming with fish and having other marine animals such as monk seals for you to view makes this a fantastic experience. Most Niihau tours taking you here also include a snorkel tour to the Napali Coastline as well. In addition to snorkeling this is a cherished destination for many of the Kauai dive boats as well.

Niihau Tours take place on the small island of Niihau which is part of Kauai County and known as the "Forbidden Island".

Niihau is located at the north-west end of the island chain. The entire island of Niihau is privately-owned and cannot be visited without an expressed invitation from one of the 160 inhabitants. All though there are very few Niihau tours in general, the ones that do exist provide some of the most interesting and beautiful cross sections of marine life to be found anywhere in Hawaii. These tours are primarily referred to as the Niihau Snorkel Tours and we offer many of them at discount pricing.

Important facts to know about the island before you book one of the Niihau Snorkel Tours.

In order to fully appreciate any part of what you may see on one of the Niihau tours from your Snorkel or Dive boat, you should be a bit aware of some of the mystery and aurora surrounding the island and its inhabitants.

  • Niihau is the smallest island of the seven major islands in the Hawaiian chain is located 18 miles off the coast of Kauai and stretches to 23 miles long and 3 to 6 miles in width.
  • It is a very low lying island raising to a height of only 500 ft and as such draws very little water from passing clouds.
  • Whereas neighboring Kauai has the wettest spot on earth with a rainfall of 420 inches a year the lower Niihau only averages about 12 inches a year.
  • Because of the near drought conditions which have always existed on Niihau it has never been able to sustain a huge population and its population today stands at about 160.
  • The island has been privately owned since the mid eighteen hundreds and almost all of the inhabitants are 100% Hawaiian.
  • Children are raised on the island to speak fluent Hawaiian and in many ways the island of Niihau remains the most Hawaiian island of all.
  • The Robinson family members are descendants of Elizabeth Sinclair, who purchased the island from King Kamehameha V in 1864.
  • The Robinson family owns the island and run a cattle ranch and employ the majority of the population.
  • Hawaiian is still spoken as the primary language and there is no electrical or plumbing infrastructure, the inhabitants preferring to live in the traditional Hawaiian manner.
  • During WWII, a Japanese pilot ditched his plane on Niihau after attacking Pearl Harbor and took the village of Pu'uwai hostage until the occupants captured him in what is now called the "Battle of Pu'uwai."

While there are no hotels or amenities of any kind, the residents do allow Snorkeling and Diving along Niihau's coasts.

Only a few tours make the significant 18 mile journey over the ocean to visit the coastline of the island of Niihau and its sister island of Lehua. Being so far away and having so few boats come out to see Niihau's splendors, it's waters have remained as pure and pristine as they were centuries ago.

Niihau Snorkeling Tours and Niihau Dive Tours

  • A couple of the boats we have that visit Niihau first tour the Na Pali Coast of Kauai in what turns out to be a full and complete Snorkel Trip to both islands.
  • These tours usually visit the underwater caldera of Lehua which is one of the most pristine Snorkel locations in the state and one of the most rewarding in a geological sense.
  • Lehua is very similar to the island of Molokini off the coast of Maui and together they compromise two of the three such caldera formations in the world.
  • Diving tours are also permitted off the coasts of Niihau and are a prized tour in the menu of options available with Kauai's dive companies.

Checkout Tom's Tips and Insights about Kauai Niihau Coast Tours

Tom Barefoot's Tips
  • Tom's Tips - Niihau Tours

    There is so much mystery and myth surrounding the island of Niihau that it has been seemingly shrouded in a cloak of Hawaiian magic. The island is different, no question. It is a private island and is owned totally by the Robinson family of Kauai. It is somewhat remote, being located 18 miles off the coast of its nearest neighbor, Kauai, so that in itself makes it somewhat distant. The other factor that makes it more separate from the other islands is that it has been an island where the general public is not permitted. In fact it is really only home to just a few hundred true Hawaiian people who have attempted to keep their Hawaiian culture and indeed they do. In fact, Hawaiian is the primary language that is spoken there... read more.

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Niihau Coast Tours Sorted by Company

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Holo-Holo Charters

1 Activity Option

61' and 48' Sailing Catamarans, 38' Raft

Holo Holo Charters offers a variety of boat tours on Kauai on large, powerful and stable catamarans. Tours include beautiful snorkel and dolphin watch excursions to the NaPali Coastline, raft tours of NaPali during the summer months, dinner sunset cruises, whale watching and tours to the forbidden island of Niihau.
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(2 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Blue Dolphin Charters

1 Activity Option

56 foot wide-beam sailing Trimaran, 27' Raft and 63' Catamaran

Blue Dolphin Charters offers spectacular motor sailing cruises to the NaPali Coast of Kauai and to the 'forbidden island' of Niihau. In addition Blue Dolphin also offers whale watches, snorkeling, snuba, dinner cruises, sunset sails and rafting excursions. All emphasis is placed upon customer comfort and its large boats each maintain large walk-in restrooms, fresh water showers and plenty of deck space.
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Deep Sea Fishing Kauai

1 Activity Option

31' Bertram Sportfisher

Deep Sea Fishing Kauai is a boat that departs from Port Allen on Kauai's western coastline. Port Allen is one of the most efficient ports to leave from in Hawaii due to the fact that the drop-off to the deep water is so rapid in such a short distance from shore. This enables Deep Sea Fishing Kauai to begin fishing for the big fish in earnest within minutes of actually leaving the harbor.
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Fathom Five Divers

1 Activity Option

Custom Built Dive Boats

Fathom Five Divers is a highly respected dive company offering a full service dive shop as well numerous diving tours throughout the island. Started years ago by Jeanette and George Thompson, Fathom Five Divers is one of the highest rated dive companies on the island.
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Seasport Divers

1 Activity Option

32' Dive Boat

"One of the most well known dive shops on Kauai, Seasport Divers, has locations in both Poipu and Kapaa. Seasport Divers offers a full selection of diving options from beginner through advanced and offers a wide selection of dive location options which may be dependent upon weather and wave conditions at a particular time of year.
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Recent Reviews

Video Transcript

There are eight major Hawaiian islands. The very smallest of them is an island called Niihau, and it's located right off the coast of Kauai.

his is a picture from the sea at Niihau. It is very low lying, and as a result it doesn't collect a lot of clouds, it doesn't get a lot of rainfall, and so it's fairly arid.

Let me show you a picture of this. So here's Kauai, and here's the island of Niihau, off the coast. This is also known as The Forbidden Island, because it is a privately owned island. The only people that are permitted on the island are Hawaiians. There's a grouping of perhaps 300 or so that live there, but it's very different in the sense that all the aspects of the culture of Hawaii are kept alive there, in fact they only speak the language of Hawaiian. They perpetuate the culture in many ways, and it's really true Hawaiians who live on the island. It's not permissible to go there and to actually get off on the island and visit it, this is strictly for them, this is theirs.

But there are some tours that we have, that will take you off the coast of Niihau. Primarily to a little island off the coast here called Lehua, which is a spectacular place for Snorkeling and for seeing sea life. So that we can do, we can get over there, and it's not every boat that'll do it, it has to be kind of special, because it's a bit of a trek to make that happen. But it's definitely worthwhile to do, it's not many people that can say that they've been out, or even near, the island of Niihau. But you can be one of those people, if you decide you want to do one of these tours.

They're almost all done in tandem, or in conjunction with Snorkel Tours that happen on the island of Kauai. So we'll have boats that leave out of Port Allen, and then head up the coastline, and enjoy the Na Pali Coast, early in the morning. Then after they're finished with that, then head over to the island of Niihau, and visit Lehua. Beautiful, beautiful Snorkeling over there. Beautiful underwater reefs. This is the only place I've ever seen the Hawaiian monk seal, and you see them quite frequently over there, when you do Snorkeling. Every imaginable kind of creature that's in Hawaii is available to you there, there's not many boats, it's really kind of out of the way, and so it's a real treat to go over to snorkel and see that.

After you're finished there are lunches and all that sort of thing happen, and then you come back across the channel. It's about 18 miles, and it can be quite a ride. Particularly the ride on the way back can be somewhat rough, you're going through open ocean, depending on what's happening with the seas on that particular day. Some days are rougher than others, some days are not rough at all. But that's a thing you should be aware of, that there's long portions of being on the ocean, in this particular trip.

But all the Snorkeling trips that we have are in conjunction with seeing something on the island of Kauai as well, that's different, when we talk about diving tours over there, which are sensational. That's handled in the scuba section, on our site, but those are really amazing too. So, Niihau is definitely something you could put on your bucket list as a place that you've gone over to, and seen what it's about, and it's available to you through our website there at TomBarefoot.com.

So if you have any questions about Tours or Activities in Hawaii, just give us a call, or check out TomBarefoot.com. We're here to help.