Ni'ihau is a 72 square mile privately owned island. It is located 18 miles from the island of Kauai across the often-times rough Kaulakahi Channel. The island is roughly 18 miles long and from 3 to 6 miles wide with a total area of approximately 70 square miles. The elevation of Paniau, its highest peak, is only 1280 feet, which—along with being in the rain shadow of neighboring Kaua‘i—explains the arid climate of the island.
King Kamehameha IV sold Niihau in 1863 to Kauai resident Elizabeth Sinclair for 10,000 dollars. Today, Sinclair’s descendants, the Robinson family, continue her commitment to maintain Niihau’s Hawaiian culture.
Because most of Niihau is low and dry, the island is too arid to be used for cultivation. Much of the land, in fact, is used for raising cattle, and most residents work on the Robinsons’ ranch.
Left: View of Ni'ihau coming from Kauai. Right: Ni'ihau from Lehua Island.
Ni'ihau from Kekaha beach.