Ni‘ihau is the narrow little island that lies farthest west in the group of main islands. It is the only one of the Hawaiian Islands that is privately owned. It was originally purchased by a Scottish woman named Elizabeth Sinclair. Her descendants now live there and actively preserve the ‘āina and the Hawaiian culture. Because it has not been readily open to visitors, it was given the nickname the “Forbidden Isle.”
Ni‘ihau lies just southwest of Kaua‘i. The island at seventy square miles is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian island, but it has the largest natural lake in the state called Halāli‘i Lake. English is taught in the school, but most people choose to use the Hawaiian language. Ni‘ihau lei are made from small shells known as pūpū ni‘ihau. Lei made from these shells are highly prized for their intricacy and beauty.