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Niihau is a remote hard to get dive destination where endangered species such as the monk seal are still some of the most worth fully dive encounters.
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Niihau is located seventeen miles south west of Kauai and is the smallest of the main inhabited Hawaiian islands. It is also named the forbidden island because limited amounts of tourists are allowed since 1864 when it became a privately owned island. It was Elizabeth Sinclair who bought the island from King Kamehameha IV, who was selling parts of his kingdom. The 250 descendants, mainly of the Sinclair-Robinson clan, continue practicing Hawaiian culture and live here without electricity, paved roads and any form of tourism. Visiting this place can only be done by helicopter tour or by joining the few dive boats from Kauai that are allowed to enter.
Niihau was shaken up in the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A Japanese plane crashed near the village of Puuwai and its pilot was captured and killed. In contradiction to its northern brother Kauai, it is a dry and flat island where cattle are the main food source. Since the Ni'ihau Ranch closed down because it was not profitable in 1999, its inhabitants will have to start looking for other sources of income. This makes it not impossible that it will open to visitors in the coming few years.
The north islands of Hawaii are not known for its best coral reefs, but more so for its typical lava formations and pristine diving conditions. Most diving off Niihau is done near Lehua Rock, reachable by crossing the Kaulakahi Channel after a 1.5 hour boat ride. It is world renowned because of its sea arches, pelagic fish and remoteness. The east shore up to Pueo Point or the west coast along Keawanui Bay offers ample unexplored dive sites. As we said before it is hard to dive here, the weather conditions make it often impossible to explore the ocean but it is one of the best remote pristine diving in the world. It is one of the few places where you can dive with monk seals, one of the endangered species of Hawaii. It offers some of the finest hard corals and is a wonderful place if you imagine what beauties remain undiscovered along its shores.
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