The largest tourism attraction in Hawaii is off limits for visitors: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument


If it was part of Hawaii Tourism, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument would be a new Hawaiian destination to attract millions. However, access is very restricted, and as of now, the US National Monument is only available to be enjoyed by some selected people, and is not open for general tourism.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area under the US flag, and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It encompasses 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean (362,073 square kilometers) – an area larger than all the country’s national parks combined.

President Barack Obama will expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by hundreds of thousands of square miles, creating the world’s largest marine reserve and permanently protecting coral reefs and deep sea marine habitats from activities such as commercial fishing and mineral mining, the White House announced this evening.

The designation will quadruple the size of the current protected area surrounding the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which was designated as a national monument by George W. Bush in 2006.

The White House also announced that Obama will address the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu on Wednesday. The conference, which is being held in the United States for the first time, is expected to attract as many as 10,000 people, including government dignitaries, scientists, environmentalists and business leaders. The conference will focus on the climate crisis, the unprecedented rate at which species are becoming extinct and the effects that damaged ecosystems are having on the world’s economies.

The federal government has long had jurisdiction over the area that will be protected, however, and the idea of expanding the monument has had local backing.

Specifically, the monument will be expanded from 139,800 square miles to 582,578 square miles — an area about twice the size of Texas. The expansion is expected to provide critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species, including endangered whales and sea turtles, and black coral, which are believed to be the longest-living marine species in the world, capable of living for more than 4,500 years, according to the White House.