Although the Easter Bunny hops into town just once a year, Hawaii has a floppy-eared one that has been cruising Oahu’s eastern waters for several centuries. Rabbit Island, or Manana Island in Hawaiian, is an uninhabited islet less than a mile from Kaupo Beach, near Makapuu lighthouse.
Lots of history goes with Rabbit Island (left) and Kaohikaipu (right). As seen from Makapuu Beach.
It’s more commonly referred to as Rabbit Island because of its shape. As seen from the nearby ocean shore, the 63-acre tuff cone appears to be a rabbit’s head treading just above the surface. Its long, droopy ears drag behind as it swims in the direction of Makapuu lighthouse. As a kid, I liked to say it was swimming toward the carrot, which is actually a smaller volcanic islet east of Rabbits called Kaohikaipu.
Rabbit Island doesn’t only look like a bouncing bunny, but it was once home to thousands of them. In the 1880s, a rancher released introduced rabbits there; nearly 100 years later, they were removed because the rabbits were destroying the native ecosystem.
View from the Makapuu lighthouse hike. The sandy shore to the left is Makapuu Beach.
Today, both Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu are protected seabird sanctuaries and home to more than 100,000 different bird species and Hawaiian Monk Seals. Because of this, it’s illegal to even step foot on the islets without permission from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Believe it or not, the island is actually heavily watched by people onshore, so don’t risk trespassing, or be prepared to pay a hefty fine!
Growing up in Hawaii, Rabbit Island has always been one of my favorite mythical landscape formations. You can view it from pretty much anywhere on the east side of the island, rooting it on as it makes it way to shore. Don’t forget, there’s still Chinaman’s Hat and the Crouching Lion to check out!
RABBIT ISLAND • East Oahu 96795
Photo Credit: Katherine Finch