Kawainui Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

Kawainui Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

An image of Kawainui Marsh


Kawainui Marsh was recognized as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2005 for its historical, biological, and cultural significance. The wetland encompasses around 830 acres of land and is the largest remaining wetland in the state of Hawai‘i.

The marsh is located in Kailua on the island of O‘ahu, and bordered by major roadways such as Kalaniana‘ole Highway, Kailua Road, Kapa‘a Quarry Road, etc.

Kawainui Marsh has been recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a waterbird recovery area as it provides habitat for four endemic and endangered Hawaiian waterbirds. It also plays a role in the Ko‘olau Poko region watershed as an important source of flood control and sediment filtration protecting urbanized areas of Kailua and the Kailua Bay Ecosystem through groundwater recharge and improved water quality.


The marsh can be viewed from multiple areas. A walking trail into the eastern boarder of the marsh extends from Kaha Park, at the end of Kaha Street in Kailua. Views of the marsh are also available from the Ulupō Heiau State Historic Site, and the Nā Pōhaku o Huawahine trail on Kapaʻa Quarry Road.

Permits & Rules

  • This sanctuary is RESTRICTED, per administrative rules Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries). Access is restricted to the perimeter marked trails and roads, or other marked trails or roads. No motorized vehicles.
  • 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 Kawainui Marsh linking to a StoryMap
An image of Kawainui Marsh linking to a 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)

koloa maoli

Koloa Maoli

(Anas wyvilliana)

image of alae ula

ʻAlae ʻula

(Gallinula galeata sandvicensis)

image of aukuu


(Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli)

image of kolea or pacific golden plover


(Pluvialis fulva)

image of bird


(Arenaria interpres)

image of ulili or wandering tattler


(Tringa incana)

Plans & Projects