Test Your Habitat IQ



The leeward—or west—side of the Big Island is known for white sandy beaches and coral reefs that make it a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, and fishing. The region includes a variety of ecosystems including watersheds, Anchialine pool systems, dry-land forest, and coral reefs.

There are several species of concern in the area that are important to Hawaii’s economy, culture, and environment. For example, South Kohala contains one of the longest contiguous coral reefs in the state. Nearly a quarter of the corals and fish that live along this coast are found nowhere else in the world.

Endangered or threatened species found in this area include:

  • Hawaiian monk seals
  • Humpback whales
  • False killer whales
  • Green sea turtles


The South Kohala district is one of the fastest growing areas on the Big Island and development is on the rise. Land uses include resort areas and very popular beaches. This means striking a delicate balance between the needs of humans and those of the natural resources.

West Hawaii’s natural resources are also threatened by land-based pollution and sediment, aquarium fishing, drought, fires, and invasive species.


NOAA will now develop an implementation plan for West Hawaii.


Please email any questions to Lani Watson at Lani.Watson@noaa.gov.