Coconut Island (Moku o Loe)

Marine biology institute offers public walking tours.

Moku o Loe, also known as Coconut Island is full of history.

Christian Holmes the owner of Hawaiian Tuna Packers, now Coral Tuna, originally purchased the islet to use as a packing factory, and eventually for his own private estate.

He increased the size of the islet from 12 to 28 acres and built a theater, swimming pools and briefly, even had a zoo on the islet.

After his death in 1947, Edwin Pauley repurchased the islet. It became a popular getaway for dignitaries, including Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Red Skelton, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. In 1951, Pauley helped establish a marine lab on the islet and after his death in 1981, the state eventually took ownership.

Today, the storied islet is part of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Marine Biology where researchers conduct marine biology fieldwork in state of the art facilities.

The best part is that the institute offers public walking tours where you can see sharks and other marine life—there’s also a touch pool—and learn the ways in which researchers are working to preserve coral reefs and marine life.

Tours cost $10 per adult and $5 per child ages 5 to 12 (no children under five); fees support the institute’s education programs and coral reef efforts. Space for each tour is limited, and must be booked in advanced.

For reservations, contact or (808) 235-9302.