The island is uninhabited, and entry is by permit only. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel visit Jarvis about every 2 to 3 years, though occasionally scientists and researchers team up to share high transportation costs to the island. Jarvis is accessible only by ship.
Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge, 18 miles south of the equator and 1,300 miles south of Honolulu, is over 36,400 acres, including 1,100-acre (1.6 square mile) Jarvis Island. The majority of the refuge is marine habitat, including extensive coral reefs and other inshore tropical ocean habitats. Jarvis is an uninhabited low, flat, and sandy; vegetated only by sparse grasses, prostrate vines, and low-growing shrubs (scant rainfall and intense sun). The refuge is managed primarily as nesting and roosting habitat for about 20 species of seabirds and shorebirds. Principal species are sooty terns, gray-backed terns, shearwaters, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, masked boobies, lesser and great frigatebirds, red-tailed tropicbirds, and brown noddies. Threatened green sea turtlesand endangered forage near the reef along with hundreds of species of fish, corals, and other invertebrates. The refuge is closely monitoring the return of nesting seabirds totally removed from the island by feral cats, which were eliminated in the early 1980s. Visitation is by special use permit only. The refuge is part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, whose office is in Honolulu.