Main Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Archipelago is distributed approximately 1,296 nautical miles (2,960 km) in the north central Pacific Ocean. It consists of two regions: eight populated large islands, referred to as the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), and 124 mostly uninhabited small islands, atolls, reefs, and submerged banks to the northwest of the MHI, referred to as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI).

The eight Main Hawaiian Islands, listed from East to West are: Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. All except Kahoolawe are inhabited.

The MHI are high volcanic islands with non-structural reef communities, fringing reefs, and two barrier reefs. With few exceptions, the near-shore coral reefs range from fair to excellent condition but are threatened by continued population growth, overexploitation of many target food fishes and invertebrates, urbanization, runoff, and development. Attractive marine aquarium trade species have been heavily exploited. Introduced aquatic alien species are threats because they may out-compete endemic species.

Greater than 60 percent of coral reefs in U.S. waters are found in the Hawaiian Archipelago. These marine ecosystems are not only ecologically important but also provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Hawaii’s economy.

Main Hawaiian Islands location map

Main Hawaiian Islands (Map: location map

Main Hawaiian Islands detail map

Main Hawaiian Islands detail map (NASA)


OCM Coastal Impact Stories: Coral Reef Conservation Program in Hawaii.

Coral Reef Condition: A Status Report for the Hawaiian Archipelago (2018)

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component Summary Findings for Hawaii (2015)


Fish, invertebrate and benthic surveys along the West coast of Hawaii from 2003-03-01 to 2017-03-01

Dataset is hosted by NOAA National Center for Environmental Information, and includes the following datasets:

  • Fish and invertebrate surveys: At each permanent monitoring site (26 at present), fishes and urchins are recorded on 4 fixed 25m transects.
  • Benthic surveys: Benthic cover is assessed at all monitoring sites, typically during the spring every three years (or annually following an anticipated substantial change in benthic cover). Benthic images (0.30 m2) are taken at each meter along four 25 m transects at each site.
  • Coral bleaching/ health surveys: In response to extensive coral bleaching in West Hawaii during the spring/summer of 2015, coral bleaching/ health surveys were conducted at 8 permanent monitoring sites from 9 October to 13 November 2015 using methods described in Couch et al. 2014.

Acoustic Characterization of Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems of West Hawai'i. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-PIFSC-61.

Reef Monitoring Summary Report for Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve, Polanui, and Wailuku, Maui and Kaho'olawe, Hawai'i

Hawaii's Coral Reef Management Priorities

Hawaii Capacity Assessment Report and Coral Reef Conservation Time Line

Hawaii Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan

Assessing the Resilience of Leeward Maui Reefs to Help Design a Resilient Managed Area Network

Relative resilience potential and bleaching severity in the West Hawaii Habitat Focus Area in 2015. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 26.

Monitoring Hawaii’s Marine Protected Areas: Examining Spatial and Temporal Trends Using a Seascape Approach. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 117.

Fish Habitat Utilization Patterns and Evaluation of the Efficacy of Marine Protected Areas in Hawaii: Integration of NOAA Digital Benthic Habitat Mapping and Coral Reef Ecological Studies NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 23

Prediction of Mesophotic Coral Distributions in the Au'au Channel, Hawaii. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 149

Catalog of coral reef fish life history specimens for the Hawaiian Islands Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Administrative Report H-11-05

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component Summary Findings for Hawaii (2015)

Economic Valuation of the Coral Reefs of Hawaii

Economic Analysis of Marine Managed Areas in the Main Hawaiian Islands

Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States. Volume 1: Marine Protected Areas Managed by U.S. States,Territories, and Commonwealths. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 2 February 2007

Status Reports

Coral Reef Condition: A Status Report for the Hawaiian Archipelago (2018)

State of the Reefs Reports (SOTR)

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002.

Local Action Strategy

Hawaii Local Action Strategy Factsheet

FLASH Strategic Plan: Fisheries Local Action Strategy in Hawai'i (FLASH)

Hawai'i's Local Action Strategy to Address Land-Based Pollution Threats to Coral Reefs

Hawaii's local action strategy to address recreational impacts to reefs

Hawaii's Climate Change and Marine Disease Local Action Strategy April 2007

Management Activities

Maui Nui Conservation Action Plans

Summary of Support for Implementation of Priority Strategies at DLNR Conservation Action Plan Sites

Hawaii Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan

Kahekili, Maui, Hawaii, Conservation Action Plan

Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve: 'Ili O Kealaikahiki Conservation Action Plan

Kīholo Conservation Action Plan draft report

Molokini Shoal Marine Life Conservation District Conservation Action Plan

South Kohala Conservation Action Plan

Wahikuli-Honokōwai Coastal Conservation Action Plan

Wahikuli-Honokōwai Wildfire Mitigation Plan: Reducing wildfire hazards and impacts in the Wahikuli-Honokōwai watersheds

Watershed Management Plans

Wai'ula'ula Watershed Plan

Honokwai and Wahikuli, West Maui, Hawaii, Watershed Management Plan

Kahana, Honokahua & Honolua Watershed Characterization Report Vol.1 (draft)

Metadata, Data and Publications Search in CoRIS

Search the CoRIS Geoportal for Main Hawaiian Islands metadata, data and publications

ReefBase Coral Bleaching Reports -

Select "U.S. Pacific Islands" in the Region window and "Main Hawaii Islands" in the Country window.

Near-real-time Data

Coral Reef Watch Satellite Monitoring

Coral Reef Watch - Hawaiian Islands Virtual Stations

The Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Program

NOAA/National Weather Service - Data from Hawaii

USGS Water Resources - Data for Hawaii

NOAA CO-OPS - Tide Data

NOAA Tidal Predictions - Hawaii

National Data Buoy Center

Ala Wai Ocean Acidification Monitoring Buoy

Kilo Nalu Ocean Acidification Monitoring Buoy

Kaneohe Ocean Acidification Monitoring Buoy

CRIMP2 Ocean Acidification Monitoring Buoy

CRIMP Ocean Acidification Monitoring Buoy

Other Data & Information

Shallow-water Benthic Habitats of the Main Hawaiian Islands

Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS)

Benthic Habitats and Offshore Geological Resources of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program

Hawaiian Reef Algae

Fish Species Observed in the Hawaii Exclusive Economic Zone from the 1750s through 2003

Hawaii Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) Atlas

Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) - Hawaii Land cover Data

Pacific Islands Benthic Habitat Mapping Center - Main Hawaiian Islands

USGS Projected Flood Extent for Hawaii

Education and Outreach

Coral Reef Outreach network

Hawaii Coral Reefs

Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program

The Coral Reef Alliance

The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii

Waikiki Aquarium

Marine Life Photography - Marine life identification guide for Hawaii & beyond

New Mapping Techniques Help Assess the Health of Hawaii’s Coral Reefs

Coral and Live Rock Laws of Hawaii

Hawaii Sharks

Marine Protected Areas/Marine Managed Areas

Marine Protected Areas of the United States Home Page

The Marine Protected Areas Inventory

Federal MPA Legislation

Marine Federal Areas Fact Sheet

Executive order 13158: Marine Protected Areas

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Barbers Point

Hakalau to Onomea Bay

Hanalei-Kilauea Point

Hanamaulu Bay, Ahukini Recreational Pier

Hanauma Bay - Marine Life Conservation District

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Hilo Bay, Wailoa River, Wailuku River

Ilio Point to Panalaia Point

Ka Lae

Kaena Point to Makua

Kahoolawe Island Reserve

Kahului Harbor

Kailua Bay

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalohi/Pailolo Channels

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaneohe Bay

Kaunakakai Harbor, Moloka'i

Kaupo to Kaapahu Bay

Kawaihae Harbor

Kealakekua Bay - Marine Life Conservation District

Keauhou Bay

Kiholo Bay

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Kona Coast

Lapakahi - Marine Life Conservation District

Leleiwi Point to Kaloli Point

Makahuena Point to S. Kawai Point

Makapuu Point

Makawana Point to Pauwela Point

Manele Harbor

Manele-Hulopo'e - Marine Life Conservation District

Maunalua Bay

Coconut Island - Hawaii Marine Laboratory Refuge

Molokini Shoal - Marine Life Conservation District

Nawiliwili Harbor


Old Kona Airport - Marine Life Conservation District

Palemano Point to Alika

Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

Penguin Bank, pinnacle

Penguin Bank, Third Finger

Port Allen

Puako Bay, Puako Reef

Pupukea - Marine Life Conservation District

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Waialea Bay

Waikiki - Marine Life Conservation District

Waikiki-Diamond Head

Waimea Bay, Waimea Recreational Pier

West Hawaii Regional Fisheries Management Area