Hawaii’s National Wildlife Refuges

Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaii’s designated National Wildlife Refuges are public lands and waters set aside primarily to protect and provide habitat to the Hawaiian Islands’ four species of endangered waterbirds and its rare and unique forest bird species. One of these endangered species, the Hawaiian moorhen (alae ula), is also one of the most secretive of native waterbirds. In Hawaiian legend, the species is believed to have brought fire from the gods to the Hawaiian people. Consider visiting the Hawaii wildlife refuges below for a truly unique nature experience:

  • Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge – Located on the northernmost tip of Kauai, this windswept peninsula refuge offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and lots of birdlife. The refuge is a part-time home to migratory Pacific birds and seabirds, as well as a more full-time home to Hawaii’s State Bird, the Hawaiian goose (nene). The refuge is open Thursday through Saturday, and reservations are required.
  • James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge – Arguably the foremost wetland site in Hawaii, this Oahu refuge near the island’s northernmost tip provides a sanctuary devoted to the recovery of Hawaii’s four endemic waterbirds. It is open to the public from October through February, with guided tours offered on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  • Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge – This Maui refuge, just outside of the island’s Kihei resort area, is home to the endangered Hawaiian stilt (aeo). Wintering migratory waterfowl also stop here to take advantage of the area’s ample food resources. Open to the public Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding Federal holidays.
  • Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge – Located on the verdant Hamakua Coast of the island of Hawaii,this sanctuary was the first National Wildlife Refuge established in the U.S. specifically for forest birds. It is home to some of the rarest bird and plant species on Earth. Though the refuge is not open to the public, nature tour operator Hawaii Forest and Trail offers a guided birdwatching tour within its vast acreage.

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