OverviewKaula Rock is a small island 23 miles west southwest of Kawaihoa Point on Hawaiian island of Niihau. Kaula is .7 miles long, about 540 feet high, and and has an area of about 130 acres.
Around 100,000 seabirds of 18 different species nest on Kaula Rock, with many sooty terns, brown noddies, boobies, and wedge-tailed shearwaters.
Kaula Rock has no beaches for landing, and there are steep cliffs on all sides of the island. A large sea cave is located at the northwestern end of the island.
The first documented ascent of Kaula Rock was made in 1925, when a party under the direction of lighthouse superintendent Fred A. Edgecomb succeeded in making a landing on July 10, and worked until the 21st building a trail and ladder to the summit. The lighthouse was eventually put into commission in 1932 and operated until 1947. The trail (and ladders) have long since washed into the ocean.
U.S. Navy has used the island of Kaula as a target range at least since 1952. In 1978, the State of Hawaii claimed Kaula as State Seabird Sanctuary. The U.S. Navy did not recognize this and has continued shooting at the island. Today, among the nesting birds atop the island, you can find various targets and inert ordinance. There is still a danger of live unexploded ammunition, but the Navy has used only inert ordinance in recent years.
Five fathom pinnacle is a steep undersea rock that rises hundreds of feet from the ocean floor. It is located 3.8 miles southwest of Kaula Rock, and is considered a quality, if out-of-the-way, dive site.
Getting ThereBy Boat:
The Island of Niihau is privately owned and not open to the public. Port Allen, Kauai, about 55 miles from Kaula Rock, is the nearest public harbor. Landing at Kaula Rock should be attempted only in very calm seas, and even then may not be successful.
Permission from the U.S. Navy and possibly the State of Hawaii is necessary for a helicopter landing on Kaula Rock.
Red TapeKaula Rock is centered in a Danger Zone about 6 miles in diameter. The U.S. Coast Guard and/or Notices to Mariners should be consulted before entering this zone in order to avoid missiles, artillery fire, and other annoyances.
Permission from the U.S. Naval Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands Naval Station, Kauai is required before landing on Kaula Rock. Permission from the State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife is also required, according to the State of Hawaii but not according to the U.S. Navy.
CampingFresh water is not available on Kaula Rock.
External LinksAerial Photos of Kaula Rock
Wikipedia: Ka'ula Island
Photos of Kaula Rock
Photos from Five Fathom Pinnacle