From coastal sand dunes and beaches to lush mountain rainforests teeming with life, Nature Conservancy preserves protect the best of Hawai‘i’s spectacular diversity of life.
Mo‘omomi Preserve, 921 acres
Mo‘omomi Preserve on Moloka‘i protects one of the last intact coastal beach and sand dune ecosystems in the main Hawaiian Islands. More than 22 native plant species, many of them rare or endangered, thrive here. The dunes are being reclaimed for nesting by wedge-tailed shearwaters, while adjacent beaches are important nesting grounds for the threatened green sea turtle. The dunes also shelter sites of great cultural and scientific significance in Hawaiian prehistory, paleontology and geology.
Kamakou Preserve, 2,774 acres
Located in the mountains of East Molokaʻi, Kamakou Preserve is known for its spectacular native rainforests and bogs. More than 200 species of plants are woven together in a rich biological tapestry, providing habitat for colorful songbirds, insects and snails. A boardwalk takes visitors through a moss-covered rain forest and pristine mountain bog before arriving at a spectacular overlook of Pelekunu Valley. Kamakou is part of the larger East Molokaʻi watershed, which is a primary source of water for the island's residents.
Pelekunu Preserve, 5,759 acres
Situated on Molokai’s rugged north coast, Pelekunu Valley is flanked by the highest sea cliffs in the world. The preserve is home to Hawai‘i’s best remaining stream system, which runs from the mountains to the sea and contains an abundant and full array of native aquatic life. Pelekunu’s remote location makes public access impossible, but the upper portion of the preserve can be seen from a spectacular overlook at the end of the Kamakou Preserve boardwalk trail.
Wainiha Preserve, 7.050 acres
Located on the island’s scenic windward coast, Wainiha Preserve includes one of Kaua‘i’s largest river systems, magnificent mountain cliffs and portions of the famed Alaka‘i wilderness and Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale summit region, one of the wettest spots on Earth. Wainiha is a treasure chest of Hawaiian plants and animals, including rare native forest birds like the ‘akikiki and akeke‘e. Due to its remote location, the preserve can only be accessed by helicopter and is not open to the public.
Kanaele Bog Preserve, 80 acres
Located above the town of Kalaheo in the mountains of East Kaua‘i, Kanaele Bog is an ecologist’s gem – a mosaic of low-growing sedges, stunted trees and unique plants. Kanaele is the only well-preserved low-elevation bog (2,100 feet) remaining in the Hawaiian Islands. Its rare species include tiny bog violets, carnivorous sundews (mikinalo) and the showy Lobelia kauiensis, with its tall spire of white-petaled flowers streaked with purple. Due to its remote location and the delicate nature of the bog ecosystem, the preserve is not open to public access.
Waikamoi Preserve, 8,951 acres
Lying on the windward slopes of Haleakalā, beautiful Waikamoi Preserve provides a sanctuary for hundreds of native Hawaiian species. Its high-elevation rainforest and alpine shrubland are home to 12 different native birds, including the endangered ‘ākohekohe and kiwikiu. Waikamoi lies at the headwaters of the East Maui Watershed, a vast 100,000-acre native forest that produces 60 billion gallons of fresh water annually for Maui residents.
Kapuneakea Preserve, 1,264 acres
Located high in the West Maui Mountains, Kapunakea Preserve is home to many of the plants that were indispensable to everyday life in ancient Hawai‘i. The preserve climbs from almost dry lowland forest at 1,600 feet to rain forests and mountain bogs at 5,400 feet. Within this range are 11 different natural communities and 24 rare plant species. Kapunakea is part of the West Maui watershed, which supplies the island with 29 billion gallons of fresh water annually. Due to its rugged location, access to the preserve is by permit only and is generally limited to researchers.
On the slopes of western Lānaʻi, Kānepu‘u Preserve represents the best remaining example of native dryland forest that once covered vast areas of Hawai‘i‘s lowlands. The preserve protects remnants of a rare of native ebony (lama) and olive (olopua) dryland forest, along with several unique plant species, including the endangered native sandalwood (‘iliahi) and Hawaiian gardenia (nā‘ū). A self-guided interpretive trail with illustrated and informative signs is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset.
Kīholo Preserve, 7 acres
This idyllic coastal parcel at Kīholo Bay on Hawai‘i Island is a fishpond estuary with abundant marine life. Two large, interconnected freshwater spring-fed pools contain numerous native fish species, as well as hapawai (mollusk) and ʻopae (shrimp). A 200-foot-long ‘auwai, or stone channel, connects the ponds to Kīholo Bay, which has a resident population of green sea turtles that use the inland ponds to feed and rest. For those interested in seeing Kīholo, the Conservancy offers volunteer workdays on the third Saturday of each month.
Kaʻū Preserve, 3,511 acres
On the southeast flank of Mauna Loa volcano in south Hawai‘i, Ka‘ū Preserve adjoins the 60,000-acre state-owned Ka‘ū Forest Reserve. The preserve consists of four separate parcels of tall, wet ‘ōhi‘a and koa forest that shelter 153 plant species unique to Hawaiʻi and one of the islands’ richest assemblages of endangered forest birds. Rare plants like the nuku ʻiʻiwi still survive here, along with the Hawaiian hawk (‘io) and the ‘ākepa, a native honeycreeper.
Kamehame Preserve, 24 acres
This small beach on the Ka‘ū Coast of south Hawai'i Island is one of the most important U.S. nesting sites for the endangered hawksbill turtle, as well as a refuge for the threatened green sea turtle. The Conservancy, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cooperate on managing the preserve and operate a volunteer turtle-monitoring program to protect the nests from rats, mongoose and other predators.
Kona Hema Preserve, 8,061 acres
Kona Hema Preserve protects part of an ancient koa-‘ōhi‘a forest that spans more than 100,000 acres along the leeward coast of Hawai‘i Island. Here on the slopes of Mauna Loa fly the endangered Hawaiian hawk (‘io), the Hawaiian hoary bat (‘ōpe‘ape‘a) and native songbirds such as the ‘apapane, ‘i‘iwi and ‘amakihi. Kona Hema is home to the world’s largest koa tree, estimated to be between 500 and 600 years old.