Above: Ni’ihau as seen from Kauai

Perhaps you’ve heard of Hawaii’s “Forbidden Island,” where just under 200 residents speak Hawaiian as their first language, and no outside visitors are welcome without explicit invitation. Sitting so tantalizingly near to the coast of Kauai, this privately owned island, named Ni’ihau, is the westernmost of the Hawaiian Islands chain. It’s so close and, yet, so far.

There are, however, ways to visit Ni’ihau on your vacation. One of the most popular trips to Ni’ihau focuses on the pristine waters of the island’s coastline, home to many rare endemic species of sea life. Only one tourist boat operator on Kauai that crosses the Kaulakahi Channel between Kauai and Niihau for snorkeling excursions on its coast and around Lehua Crater daily, and that’s Holo Holo Charters, who also originated Ni’ihau snorkeling trips.

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