Mokupapapa Discovery Center

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands off-limits but you can learn about this unique ecosystem here

It’s the next best thing to going where swooping seabirds fill the skies, predators rule the reefs and there’s nary a human being in site.

Most people will never visit the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and its Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM). But these remote, protected islands come alive during a visit to the Mokupapapa Discovery Center for Hawaii’s Remote Coral Reefs in Downtown Hilo.

Located in the century-old Koehnen Building — with its stately koa wood staircase and gleaming Hawaiian hardwood floors — Mokupapapa offers a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium, life-size models of NWHI wildlife, interactive educational exhibits and compelling artwork.

Attendees learn about the special inhabitants of the NWHI, plus the importance of ocean conservation at PMNM, the first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site in the U.S.

One of the last predator-dominated, coral reef ecosystems on Earth — PMNM is home to a wide array of threatened and endangered species.

It is considered the largest tropical seabird rookery in the world with a population of 14 billion birds.

The Discovery Center “brings the place to the people” as human access and activity to PMNM are by permit only.

Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Sat.