Nihoa is otherwise known as Moku Manu or Bird Island and is popular among the other Hawaiian Islands for being the tallest of the ten atolls and islands in the uninhabited Hawaiian Islands in Northwestern Honolulu. There are two peaks on the island which are the Tanager Peak and Miller’s Peak to the east and west respectively. Much of the area in Nihoa is covered by a coral reef and derives its name from the jagged outline of the island. The word Nihoa is Hawaiian which translates to ‘tooth’. More than 25 different species of several animals and plants have been observed on the island. As a result, the island is notable for being highly diverse NWHI Island.
As a tourist, you will be thrilled to see a large number of endemic birds such as Nihoa Millerbird and Nihoa Finch. There are also endemic plants on the island such as Nihoa Carnation, Amaranthus brownie, and Nihoa Fan Palm which do not exist in any other place apart from Nihoa. The rocky outcrops and plant communities provide the more than 18 seabird species with perching and nesting areas like the Brown Noddies and Red Footed Boobies, shearwaters, petrels and terns. According to prehistoric evidence, native Hawaiians visited the island first around AD 1000 but its popularity as a hot tourist destination has risen just recently.
Nihoa came in the tourism limelight first in 1909 when it was included in Hawaiian Islands Reservation which was a federal refuge for wildlife established by the then president of the U.S, Theodore Roosevelt. The 1923 Tanager Expedition of the island took a comprehensive inventory of the biological species found on the island. Due to the many archeological sites of great significance at Nihoa, the island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The state government of Hawaii has laid down concrete plans of ensuring that all the endangered species of plants are protected and preserved. Anyone planning a visit to Nihoa to carry out a scientific and cultural resource is required to get a special land use permit. This aims at minimizing the risk of alien species from being introduced into the already fragile ecosystem of Nihoa.
For quite a long time, Nihoa has been unattractive to most humans due to the absence of realistic guano deposits and its general inaccessibility. This however contributed greatly in preserving the endemic species on the island from becoming extinct. However, the small size of Nihoa has made most of the endemic organisms to become greatly endangered. Conservationists fear that just a single disaster on the island such as a wide fire or an invasive species being introduced in Nihoa can wipe out the entire population completely. The introduction of Gray Bird Grasshopper on Nihoa Island from 1999 to 2003 posed a great danger to the health of vegetation and plants. As you can expect, Nihoa is mostly visited by scientific and biological researchers and is among the top research centers in Hawaii.