Hawaiʻi’s National Wildlife Refuges

Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaiʻi’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 (ʻalae ʻula), 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 Hawaiʻi wildlife refuges below for a truly unique nature experience:

  • Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge – Located on the northernmost tip of Kauaʻi, 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 Hawaiʻi’s State Bird, the Hawaiian goose (nēnē). The refuge is open Thursday through Saturday, and reservations are required.
  • James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge – Arguably the foremost wetland site in Hawaiʻi, this Oʻahu refuge near the island’s northernmost tip provides a sanctuary devoted to the recovery of Hawaiʻi’s four endemic waterbirds. It is open to the public from October through February, with guided tours offered on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  • Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge – This Maui refuge, just outside of the island’s Kīhei resort area, is home to the endangered Hawaiian stilt (aʻeo). 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 Hāmākua Coast of the island of Hawaiʻi,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 Hawaiʻi Forest and Trail offers a guided birdwatching tour within its vast acreage.
Reforestation image in Hawaii

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