The name Koʻanakoʻa literally means the settling of coral, referring to Maro’s expansive coral reefs. It is one of the Hawaiian Islands chain’s most ecologically rich shallow water marine ecosystems. It was named ’Maro’ in 1820 after the whaling ship that sighted it.
Unlike the classic ring-shaped atoll, Maro Reef is a complex maze of linear reefs that radiate out from the center like the spokes of a wheel. Maro’s reefs are intricate and reticulated (like a net or network,) forming a complex network of reef crests, patch reefs and lagoons.