Hāmākua Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

Hāmākua Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

An image of Hāmākua Marsh


Hāmākua Marsh and the adjacent Kawainui Marsh make up the largest remaining wetland habitat in the State. It is a wildlife sanctuary owned by DLNR and home to four species of endemic and endangered waterbirds. The four endemic waterbird species are: ‘Alae ‘Ula, Ae’o, ‘Alae Ke’o Ke’o, and Koloa Maoli.

The area has a rich cultural and geographical history. The area was a good source for inland fishing and wetland taro production, and supported a large population of native Hawaiians.

Hāmākua Marsh used to be a stream flowing from Kawainui Marsh to Kaʻelepulu Marsh (now Enchanted Lake) but the water flow has been diverted. The Marsh now depends fully on rainfall on the hillside rising up from the Marsh, as well as run off from parts of Kailua town.

Source: https://healthyclimatecommunities.org/home/restore-hamakua/


Bird watching

Permits & Rules

  • This sanctuary is RESTRICTED, per administrative rules Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries). Access is prohibited in wetland areas bounded by perimeter fence and makai canal.
  • Commercial activities may be possible with a permit. Contact your local DOFAW office to discuss.
  • 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.

Explore from Home

An image of Hāmākua Marsh linking to a StoryMap
An image of an ʻalae keʻokeʻo linking to a Hāmākua virtual tour

Some Native Plants & Animals

These are examples of native species associated with this site. This is not intended to be a comprehensive species inventory. 

image of aeo


(Himantopus mexicanus knudsneni)

image of hawaiian coot

ʻAlae keʻokeʻo

(Fulica alai)

image of alae ula

ʻAlae ʻula

(Gallinula galeata sandvicensis)

koloa maoli

Koloa Maoli

(Anas wyvilliana)

Plans & Projects