Plan Your Visit

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Public access to Palmyra Atoll is self-limiting due to the very high expense of traveling to such a remote destination. The Nature Conservancy owns and operates the only airplane runway on Palmyra and by boat, it's a 5-7 day sailing trip from Honolulu.

 There are four ways the public may gain access to the refuge: 

  • Working for, contracting with, or volunteering for The Nature Conservancy or Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conducting scientific research via Fish and Wildlife Service Special Use Permits
  • Invitation through The Nature Conservancy sponsored donor trip 
  • Visitation by private recreational sailboat or motorboat

With prior approval by the USFWS, privately owned vessels are permitted access to the atoll for up to 7 days to see and enjoy the natural resources of the refuge. A maximum of 2 vessels are allowed at one time and no more than 6 vessels may visit in a single month. As no dumping of any kind is allowed within the Refuge, private vessels must have sufficient holding tanks for all black and gray water to accommodate their needs throughout the entire length of stay. Vessels are required to provide documentation of a hull bottom inspection and cleaning showing the absence of any marine organisms that is dated within two weeks of their departure for the Refuge. Additional documentation of an inspection citing no signs of a rodent presence detected must be completed within 48 hours of departure for the Atoll.  The Refuge is only open for visitation when an FWS manager is present. As our staff is very small at this time we are only able to open the refuge to visitation for about 6 months each year, primarily in the summer months.  Contact the Refuge Manager to discuss times the Refuge will be open to visitors. No pets (e.g. dogs and cats) are allowed on the refuge even if they remain aboard the vessel. 

Access to Cooper Island must be arranged and secured through The Nature Conservancy. Contact the Deputy Director of the The Nature Conservancy’s Palmyra Program at for further information.