Rabbit Island, Hawaii: Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking for a guide to Rabbit Island, Hawaii? This article from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know!

person looking at rabbit island Hawaii

Just three-quarters of a mile off the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii lies the small gem known as Rabbit Island. Most visitors just admire the views of the Rabbit Island from different beaches and hikes on Oahu. But there’s so much more to the story of this little island.

What Is Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Today, Rabbit Island is part of a seabird sanctuary. It is estimated that there are between 170,000 and 260,000 birds living on this 63-acre island. Sooty terns, wedge-tailed shearwaters, brown noddies, and Bulwer’s petrels are just a few bird species that like to nest on Rabbit Island, Hawaii.

In addition to housing many birds, Rabbit Island is also home to many Hawaiian monk seals. This tiny island is the perfect home for this endangered species.

Where Did Rabbit Island Get Its Name?

The official name of Rabbit Island is actually Manana Island, which means “to stretch out” in Hawaiian. But more people know this little island by the colloquial name of Rabbit Island.

Rabbit Island actually got its name, because John Adams Cummins, a businessman and politician, decided to raise rabbits on the island in the 1880s. As a matter of fact, these rabbits remained on the island until 1994. At that time, they were removed, as they were destroying the ecosystem on the island. Interestingly enough, during this 114-year period, very few birds made their home on Rabbit Island.

Despite the fact that there are no longer rabbits living on Rabbit Island, the name sticks! This is because many people think the island looks a bit like a rabbit’s head with its ears flopped down.

cute white rabbit in field

Are There Rabbits on Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Between the 1880s and 1994, there were rabbits on Rabbit Island, but that is no longer the case. That said, the island still gets to keep its fun name!

Where Is Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Rabbit Island is about 0.75 miles off the coast of Kaupo Beach, which is in the southeastern part of Oahu. It is also quite close to the well-known Makapuu Point.

What Is the Smaller Island Near Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

When you look at Rabbit Island, you’ll notice that there’s a smaller, closer island as well. This is Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary, also known as Black Rock. Like Rabbit Island, Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary is home to thousands of birds.

What Are the Best Spots to See Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Makapuu Lighthouse hike views

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is one of the easiest hikes on Oahu, Hawaii – and it also offers amazing views of Rabbit Island, Hawaii. And you only have to hike two miles (round-trip) on a paved path to see it!

In addition to wonderful views of Rabbit Island, Hawaii, you’ll also get to see Makapuu Lighthouse, Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. In the winter time, you may also get to see some whales!

Makapuu Beach Park

If you don’t feel like tackling a hike, you can head to Makapuu Beach Park instead. This small beach is right around the corner from the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.

If you do decide to visit Makapuu Beach Park, be cautious, especially when going in the water. With large waves, strong currents, and sharp rocks, this beach is quite dangerous. That said, it does make for a pretty amazing boogie boarding spot.

Kaupo Beach

Kaupo Beach is actually the closest beach to Rabbit Island, Hawaii. Right next door to Makapuu Beach Park, Kaupo Beach offers some of the best views of Rabbit Island.

Bellows Beach

Bellows Beach is several miles north of the other Rabbit Island-viewing spots on this list. This means that you’ll be able to get a completely different perspective of Rabbit Island, while still enjoying the gorgeous turquoise waters of Bellows Beach.

*Note: Bellows Beach is only accessible to members of the military and their guests.

rabbit island Hawaii from afar

Can I Visit Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Unfortunately, you cannot visit Rabbit Island, Oahu, Hawaii without permission from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

What Can I Do at or Near Rabbit Island, Hawaii?

Go Diving

One of the best things to do near Rabbit Island, Hawaii is go diving, although this area is only recommended for advanced divers! Rather than getting permission from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to dock on Rabbit Island, the best way to go diving at Rabbit Island is by diving down from a boat.

Once you slip beneath the surface, you’ll understand why Rabbit Island is such a fantastic diving spot. With visibility up to 80 feet and depths of up to 70 feet, there’s a lot of ground to cover. You’ll be able to see everything from bright coral to beautiful shells to colorful fish to lovely lobsters.

If you do plan on diving near Rabbit Island, Hawaii, please be aware of the many sharks that make their homes in that area. There are white tip reef sharks, tiger sharks, and grey sharks.

Take a Few Pictures

If you’re not an experienced diver, one of the most amazing things to do near Rabbit Island, Hawaii is to simply take pictures of this lovely little island. The best time to take pictures of Rabbit Island is during the golden glow of sunrise.

Have you ever seen Rabbit Island, Hawaii? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Want to remember all of this information to your visit to Rabbit Island, Oahu, Hawaii? Pin this post for later!

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