Located 27 kilometres/17 miles southwest of Kaua’i, Ni'ihau (the Forbidden Island) is Hawaii's smallest inhabited island. Approximately 250 native Hawaiians live on Ni'ihau and access to the island itself is extremely restricted. To dive Ni’ihau, contact a Kaua’i dive operator.
Types of Diving and Best Dive Spots
Diving Ni'ihau is only for experienced divers with advanced training. The underwater landscape includes gigantic sea arches, underwater caverns, large pelagic fish (including sharks), and perhaps a glimpse of endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals.
The crossing from Kaua'i can be rough but you can be rewarded with sightings of pilot whales, dolphins or flying fish. The crossing takes up to two and a half hours so if you're susceptible to sea sickness, come prepared.
Hawaiian monk seals - one of the United States' most endangered marine mammals - are common around Ni'iahu. Divers also commonly see dolphin, flying fish and white tip reef sharks..
The Kaua'i to Ni'ihau crossing can be rough. Contact your dive shop in advance as you might not be able to dive off Ni'ihau in the winter.
Access to Ni'iahu is extremely restricted and special permits are required to set foot on the Forbidden Island.
Ni'ihau diving is for experienced divers with advanced training. Divers must be comfortable descending without an anchor line and in a current. Diving off Forbidden Island is challenging, but with the right training it can be rewarding.
Explore all the Hawaiian Islands:
All images are courtesy of:
- Hawaiian Tourism Authority: Sri Maiava Rusden, Ron Dahlquist, Kirk Lee Adder, Joe Solem
- Captain Steve Juarez