Lehua Crater, Niihau
Lehua Crater is a crescent-shaped, uninhabited island just north of the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau that we visit daily on our Napali-Niihau Super Tour. While the 284-acre rock may look barren, Lehua is actually one of the largest and most diverse seabird colonies in all of Hawaii. 17 seabird species and 25 native plant species (14 of which are endemic to Hawaii) inhabit the steep, rocky, windswept slopes of Lehua.
Lehua Crater is designated as a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary, and human activity on the island has mostly been limited to two significant campaigns to eradicate non-native rabbit and rat species, both of which have been successful, thus far. The United States Coast Guard maintains the Lehua Rock Lighthouse on the highest point of the island, at 704 feet.
One of our favorite photo opportunities at Lehua Crater is an unusual geological formation dubbed Keyhole Cave. A tall, thin notch cut reaches from the water almost to the top of the crater, creating a very narrow bridge that barely connects the two arms. Depending on ocean conditions, your Holo Holo captain can maneuver the boat up close to the Keyhole, where it’s always mesmerizing to see how the light shines through at every different angle.
The lack of rain and running water on both Lehua and Niihau keep the waters around the crater super clean and clear; visibility is rarely less than 70 feet! This area is consistently listed as one of the best snorkeling and diving destinations in all of Hawaii so please– say yes to adventure and let us take you out for a first-class snorkeling experience that will have you humming the song “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. On the rare occasion that visibility is less than 70 ft, it’s because of plankton (rather than silt) and therefore, we’ll usually find an even great number and variety of reef fish feeding on these days.
Holo Holo Charters was the first Kauai boat tour company to operate daily trips to Niihau Island and its neighbor to the north, Lehua Crater. Our flagship, Holo Holo was built here on Kauai in 1997, specifically to be able to take guests offshore to experience this special area safely and comfortably.
Holo Holo Charters is the only company to operate daily trips to the Napali Coast and Niihau at Lehua Crater. Voted the best Kauai boat tour 3 years in a row.