Shop for Shells from the Forbidden Island of Ni'ihau
The small, dry, mysterious island of Niʽihau is unlike any in the Hawaiian chain. This arid island to the southwest of Kauaʽi was sold in 1864 to the Robinson family by King Kahemameha V. For 150 years, the island has existed under the domain of a single family.
Completely cut-off from modern development, there are no roads, no restaurants, no stores, and no police. Hawaiian is still the official language, and outsiders who aren't of Hawaiian descent aren't permitted to visit the village.
There is one school run completely on solar power. Though, with limited opportunity for full-time employment, the island population struggles to surpass 100 permanent residents.
While the future of Niʽihau remains uncertain, the lone bright spot for the island's economy is handmade Niʽihau jewelry.
Rare shells no larger than pinheads accumulate along a shore that's devoid of people. From off-white momi to black kahelelani, these shells are found nowhere else in the world.
In addition to their rarity, the shells are masterfully formed into lei that are handcrafted using ancient techniques. Sizes and shapes are painstakingly matched, and a single lei can take months to create.
In West Maui, the best selection of Niʽihau jewelry can be found in Whalers Village at Totally Hawaiian Gift Gallery. From earrings to lei to exceptionally rare pieces, each item includes a letter of authenticity stating that the shells are, in fact, from the Forbidden Island of Niʽihau.