Since 1952, the Hawaiian island of Niihau has been largely off-limits to the general public. And as a result, the so-called “Forbidden Island” has captured the imaginations of many avid travelers – some of whom hope to one day tick the inaccessible location off their bucket lists. But why is it open only to a few?
Well, upon first impressions, it may be hard to tell why Niihau is so secluded, since it looks pretty much like any other Hawaiian island. It lies over 17 miles southwest of the island of Kauai, from which it is separated by a stretch of water known as the Kaulakahi Channel. The lone piece of land itself is around 6 by 18 miles in size and is thought to be nearly five million years old.
And Niihau actually sits on an extinct volcano, which had a landslide on its eastern side. Inland, meanwhile, there are several wetland habitats that play home to a host of native fauna and flora, including the Hawaiian duck, the Hawaiian stilt and the critically endangered Brighamia insignis plant.