An image of an ʻaukuʻu

The State Wildlife Sanctuary program aims to restore habitat and provide protection to nesting sanctuaries as part of a comprehensive plan to aid in the recovery of endemic Hawaiian wildlife. Urbanization, invasive species, and instability of watersheds are major drivers in habitat degradation over the past 100 years in Hawaiʻi. Habitat loss contributed to the displacement of many native species endemic to Hawaiʻi, leading to a critical reduction in their populations. Information on Hawaiʻi’s Wildlife Sanctuaries is below where available.

Some of the Wildlife Sanctuaries managed for bird habitat protection are important wetland ecosystems. Learn more about wetlands in Hawaiʻi.

Note that most State Wildlife Sanctuaries are CLOSED, as their primary purpose is to provide safe habitat for native wildlife. Some sanctuaries are instead designated as RESTRICTED, meaning that some limited access is possible (e.g., accessing sanctuary islets below the high water mark). Commercial activities within a wildlife sanctuary are generally prohibited, with the exception of a few sanctuaries. Administrative rules Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries) contains lists including:

  • Exhibit 1: List of CLOSED wildlife sanctuaries
  • Exhibit 2: List of RESTRICTED wildlife sanctuaries (including details on what restrictions apply for each sanctuary), and 
  • Exhibit 3: List of wildlife sanctuaries in which commercial activities may be permitted (for example, guided visits or commercial videography or photography).

Other activities (like scientific research, conservation management, or subsistence, traditional, and customary practices by Native Hawaiians consistent with the long-term preservation of the wildlife sanctuary resources) may be possible with a permit. Individuals interested in permits should review the detailed information on our Permits & Guidelines page and contact their local DOFAW office.

Jump to an island group below to learn about individual wildlife sanctuaries:

Northwest Hawaiian Islands

  • Kure Atoll
    • Green Island
    • Sand Island

Kauaʻi State Wildlife Sanctuaries

Map: Kauaʻi State Wildlife Sanctuaries (open full screen)


Oʻahu State Wildlife Sanctuaries

Map: Oʻahu State Wildlife Sanctuaries (open full screen)


Maui Nui State Wildlife Sanctuaries

Map: Maui Nui State Wildlife Sanctuaries (open full screen)


Hawaiʻi Island State Wildlife Sanctuaries

Map: Hawaiʻi Island State Wildlife Sanctuaries (open full screen)