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Hawaii's Niihau Island

Niihau Island, Kauai County, northwestern Hawaii, near Kauai. The chief industries are livestock raising and the growing of rushes from which mats are pleated. The island is privately owned. The main village is Puuwai. Area, 178 sq km (70 sq mi); population (1980) 226; (1990) 230.

Niihau is the private property of the Robinson family, the descendants of Mrs. Elizabeth Sinclair and family, who purchased the island from the Hawaiian government in 1864. Only invited guests of the residents or of the owners are welcome there, and Niihau is frequently called the Aloof Island or Forbidden Island. Some 230 native Hawaiians live and work on Niihau. They speak the old Hawaiian language and follow some of the customs and traditions of their ancestors. Most of the island is low and arid. Too dry for cultivation, the island is used for grazing cattle.


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