Downtown Honolulu is known for being one of the most urban areas in Hawaii. It is generally safe to walk around here during the day time, but safety concerns can arise during the night time.

Safety Concerns For Traveling To Hawaii That You Need To Consider

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Wondering if There Are Safety Concerns For Traveling to Hawaii? (From Locals)

For decades, Hawaii has been a top vacation destination that brings in travelers from all around the globe. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, each island offers its own special adventure.  

Excitement will fill your mind with thoughts of paradise, but it is also crucial to acknowledge that no destination is without its safety concerns. Hawaii especially has unique safety considerations that you may not commonly experience back at home.

As locals who grew up following these safety precautions, we will be your guides to help you prioritize your personal safety for the best Hawaii experience. Here you will find all the safety concerns to consider for traveling in Hawaii, so let’s get started!

Hawaii Travel Insurance

Hawaii’s natural beauty and diverse activities offer many adventures, but they can also come with unexpected challenges. From flight cancelations, lost luggage, or medical emergencies, travel insurance provides a safety net. It saves you the financial and logistical headaches that come with traveling.

Hawaii’s geographical location makes it susceptible to natural disasters like hurricanes or volcanic eruptions, which can ultimately disrupt your plans. Having travel insurance not only protects your investment in your trip, but you will also have the peace of mind of knowing that you will be supported in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

Click here to learn about the best travel insurance for Hawaii!

Safety Concerns To Consider For Traveling To Hawaii

Hawaii has opportunities to adventure from the mountains down to the ocean. With so many possibilities of what you can experience in Hawaii also comes many safety concerns and risks.

The currents at Hawaii's beaches can be incredibly strong and dangerous if you are not careful.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, understanding the challenges Hawaii presents will help you stay safe on your trip.

Ocean Safety Concerns

Hawaii has breathtaking beaches that are unlike any other due to its unique geographical location. Strong currents and deep water are some of the main ocean safety concerns to be aware of when traveling to Hawaii.

Visitors should always consider various ocean safety concerns before going on any aquatic adventures in Hawaii.

Check The Weather Forecasts And Surf Cams

Before heading out to the beach, it’s always a smart move to check the weather and surf cams. By taking a moment to review the weather conditions, you can stay safe and prepared. 

Hawaii’s tropical climate can be very unpredictable, so having up-to-date weather information can help you plan your day effectively. You should also know that certain sides of the islands have different wave conditions depending on the season. 

Surf Cams are also an invaluable tool for surfers and beachgoers alike. They provide real-time footage of ocean conditions, so you can gauge wave heights and overall ocean conditions. This information is crucial for surfers to catch some epic waves or for those who simply want a safe and enjoyable beach experience.

Know Your Limits

Knowing your limits is crucial whenever you’re in the ocean in Hawaii. The allure of the clear waters and vibrant marine life can sometimes lull swimmers into a false sense of security. However, Hawaii’s ocean can be deceptively powerful, with strong currents, undertows, and big waves. 

It’s essential to recognize your swimming abilities before beforehand. If you’re not a strong swimmer or unfamiliar with the area, consider sticking with family-friendly beaches that have calm waters, open sandy areas, and most importantly a lifeguard on duty. 

Note: Even experienced swimmers should exercise caution, as ocean conditions in Hawaii can change rapidly on the dime.

Find Life Guards On Duty

Locating lifeguards on duty can be a lifesaving priority. These trained professionals are not only well-versed in ocean safety but also have a deep understanding of the unique challenges presented by Hawaii’s waters.

Lifeguards are typically stationed at the more popular beaches in Hawaii. If you want to ensure your safety while in Hawaii, be sure to keep a look out for the lifeguard stations.

To ensure your safety and peace of mind, you should consider choosing beaches with lifeguard stations as much as possible. There aren’t lifeguards on every single beach in Oahu, so you should take extra precautions if you decide to go to beaches without lifeguards.

Heed The Warning Signs Posted At The Beach

Checking the signs posted on Hawaii’s beaches for ocean safety is an essential step before diving into the waves. These signs are not mere suggestions; they are guides to a secure and enjoyable experience at the beach. 

Warning signs convey crucial information about potential hazards such as strong currents, jellyfish, or shark sightings. These warning signs are not just for show. Ignoring these signs can cause you serious harm, as we have experienced firsthand in the photo below.

Jellyfish and Man-o-Wars are not uncommon at beaches in Hawaii. Warning signs will typically be posted at the more popular beaches when frequent sightings occur. Heeding the warning signs at the beach will help you stay safe while traveling in Hawaii.

Hiking Safety Concerns

Hiking in Hawaii offers the opportunity to explore some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes on Earth. While Hawaii is incredibly beautiful, its unique geography, changing weather, and varied terrains can pose significant challenges to hikers.

Being aware of hiking safety concerns in Hawaii will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience, especially for first-time visitors.

Check Current And Previous Weather Conditions

Checking both current and previous weather conditions is very important for your safety while hiking. Weather is highly variable in Hawaii, and sudden changes can pose risks to hikers.

You can make informed decisions about your hike by assessing the current weather. This includes temperature, precipitation, and wind. In the past, we’ve had to turn back and not finish a hike because we didn’t check how windy it was beforehand.

Reviewing past weather data will also provide insights into potential hazards you could encounter on your hike like muddy paths, swollen streams, or recent rock falls. Being well-informed about both the present and past weather conditions allows you to make safer choices and better prepare for Hawaii’s hiking trails.

Note: Hiking on days that are clear with no clouds will ensure the best views from the top of your hikes!

Review The Hiking Trail Beforehand

Reviewing hiking trails beforehand is a fundamental step to safely explore Hawaii’s diverse landscapes. Researching the trail’s length, elevation gain, terrain, and any potential hazards will help you get an idea of what to expect.

It’s essential to select hikes that match your experience level and physical abilities. From our experience, the hikes in Hawaii can range from beginner-friendly to advanced with steep drop-offs, loose rocks, and uneven terrain.

Hikes in Hawaii can range from beginner friendly to steep and dangerous. To ensure your safety in Hawaii, make sure you choose a hike that is suitable for yourself.

Take a proactive approach by reviewing the hiking trails beforehand to align with your comfort and skill level.

Let Someone Know Where Your Hiking

Before you go on a hike (especially advanced hikes!) in Hawaii, you should always let someone know about your plans. Sharing your hiking itinerary with someone you know can ensure your safety in case of emergencies.

We’ve experienced firsthand how common it is to lose your way while hiking in Hawaii, even as locals. Taking this precautionary measure can expedite rescue efforts in the event of sudden weather changes or unexpected injuries. 

It’s a simple yet invaluable step towards ensuring a safe hike with peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

Have Proper Hiking Gear

Proper hiking gear is essential when exploring Hawaii’s diverse and often challenging terrain.

The key to hiking in Hawaii is to have the right gear for changing conditions, as Hawaii’s landscapes can transition from humid forests to windy cliffs within a single hike.

Trust Your Instincts

Trusting your instincts can be a critical aspect to ensure your safety and well-being on trails. It can be your most reliable guide to help you make the right decisions for yourself while hiking.

Listen to your instincts if something doesn’t feel right during your hike. Things like sudden changes in weather, uneasy feelings about the trail ahead, or any physical discomfort. Hiking is not just about reaching the destination, but also enjoying the journey safely. 

Hiking in Hawaii can be a safety concern if you are not careful. Weather can change very rapidly. If you have doubts about your hike, it is best to play it safe.
Not the best weather conditions for a narrow hike

If you sense any discomfort or uncertainty, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn back, seek shelter, or wait for conditions to improve. 

Pro Tip: Look out for people who are also hiking on the same trail. Don’t be afraid to ask them how conditions are looking up ahead!

Sightseeing Safety Concerns

Amongst the allure of being in paradise, it is essential to stay informed about sightseeing safety concerns that may not be immediately apparent.

Do Not Leave Valuables Unattended

The unfortunate truth about Hawaii is that theft and car burglaries are increasingly more common. Thieves are often drawn to rental cars or vehicles with valuable items of value, like bags, electronics, or even luggage.

Car theft is becoming increasingly common in Hawaii. It is important to keep all valuables out of visible sight as a safety measure while in Hawaii.

A fundamental safety tip you should remember is to never leave your valuables unattended. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets, visiting historical sites, or stopping to take photos, always keep a close eye on your belongings. 

Additionally, you don’t leave any valuables visible inside your car. Instead, you should secure them at your accommodations or carry them with you. A little extra caution can go a long way and save you from this costly mistake.

Trust Your Gut

While guidebooks and online research can provide valuable insights, your intuition can often serve as the best guide. While sightseeing through Hawaii, there is always a possibility of getting lost. If something feels off or uncomfortable, it is essential to hear your inner voice.

This could mean avoiding a drive down suspicious off-roads, steering clear from uncomfortable interactions, or even changing your plans altogether. Your gut is a powerful travel companion that will help you navigate throughout Hawaii with confidence and awareness.

Pro Tip: If you are wary of planning your own travels to sightsee in Hawaii, Book a Tour! Having tour guides can ensure your safety and provide great knowledge of the popular sights in Hawaii.

Traffic and Driving in Hawaii

While Hawaii is filled with scenic drives that will grab your attention, it is important to stay focused on the road.

Hawaii is filled with scenic drives that can grab your attention. It is important to stay focused on the road to ensure your safety in Hawaii.

Hawaii is known for heavy traffic congestion, especially in the more populated areas like Honolulu in Oahu. It is important to remain patient regardless of how frustrating the traffic can be.

Additionally, Hawaii’s diverse landscapes can lead to challenging road conditions with winding mountain roads, like the Road to Hana on Maui or Tantalus on Oahu. Always drive with caution when traversing narrow or windy roads.

To ensure a safe driving experience in Hawaii, it’s vital to prioritize road safety, familiarize yourself with local traffic laws, and maintain a relaxed and courteous attitude. Don’t hesitate to throw a shaka to thank others on the road!

Wildlife & Nature Safety Concerns

Hawaii’s natural beauty provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable outdoor adventures; however, Hawaii’s ecosystems are delicate. Wildlife, both on land and in the ocean, can pose safety risks if not respected with care.

Recognizing Plant Species In Hawaii

Recognizing important plant species in Hawaii is crucial to protecting the island’s fragile ecosystems and your own personal safety. There are a handful of poisonous plants found all over Hawaii that could pose health risks if touched or ingested.

One of the most infamous examples is the castor bean plant which contains highly toxic compounds through its distinctive red seed capsule.

The red castor bean is a plant found in Hawaii that can be lethal. It is best to avoid this plant to ensure your safety in Hawaii.

Additionally, there is the beautiful but dangerous manchineel tree often found in coastal areas which has sap that can cause severe skin irritation and blistering.

The manchineel tree is a plant found in Hawaii that can be lethal. It is best to avoid this plant to ensure your safety in Hawaii.

Similarly, there is the deceptively beautiful native plant, the ‘Ōleander, which contains toxic compounds such as cardiac glycosides. Ingesting even a small amount of the flower can be fatal.

The oleander is a plant found in Hawaii that can be lethal. It is best to avoid this plant to ensure your safety in Hawaii.

To stay safe, it is essential to educate yourself about these plants and avoid contact with any unfamiliar flora, no matter how beautiful they may seem.

Encountering Wildlife On Land

Hawaii is home to a wide range of fascinating yet potentially unpredictable creatures. The key to staying safe is to maintain a respectful distance from wildlife

In more rural areas of Hawaii, you will often see wild boars, chickens, and mongoose. It’s important to not approach or attempt to feed wild animals, as this can disrupt their natural behaviors and even provoke aggressive responses. 

Note: If you want to get a closer look at Hawaii’s wildlife, use your camera with a zoom lens to get a closer look!

Don’t Disrupt Marine Life

Disrupting marine life in Hawaii not only poses a risk to delicate ecosystems but can put you at risk as well. 

Many of the marine creatures in Hawaii’s waters, like sea turtles, have powerful protective instincts. If provoked or harassed, they may react defensively, potentially leading to bites, scratches, or other injuries. Moreover, touching or pursuing marine animals can disturb their natural behavior, causing them stress or harm.

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is a native species to Hawaii. To ensure safety for yourself and the wildlife in Hawaii, it is best to maintain your distance from these creatures.

Additionally swimming near coral reefs can result in painful cuts and abrasions commonly known as “coral cuts”. These injuries can easily get infected and may require medical attention. 

It’s essential to recognize that Hawaii’s marine life is best enjoyed from a respectful distance to preserve the environment and for your personal safety.

Sun Exposure Safety Concerns

Staying safe from the strong sun exposure in Hawaii is really important. Sun protection is not only about avoiding sunburn but also reducing the risk of long-term skin damage and skin cancer. 

When exploring Hawaii’s beautiful outdoors, always wear sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF and protective clothing.

Additionally, seeking shade during peak sun hours (typically from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm) can make a big difference. It can protect you from the common chance of getting sun poisoning – which can cause skin blistering, headaches, nausea, and fever.

You must reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming or sweating, and stay well-hydrated to prevent dehydration.

Note: The sun’s intensity can be amplified near reflective surfaces like water and sand!

Safety Concerns For Solo Female Travelers In Hawaii

Hawaii is generally a welcoming destination, and solo female travelers can have a safe and enriching experience with proper preparation and awareness

First and foremost, exercise the same caution you would in any unfamiliar place like avoiding poorly lit areas at night and being mindful of your surroundings. Sometimes unwanted attention can occur, so trust your instincts and politely but firmly decline interactions that make you uncomfortable.

It is important to address that Hawaii has a significant homeless problem, notably in the urban areas such as Downtown Honolulu on Oahu. If you are a solo female traveler, it is best to explore the urban areas during the daytime or when large groups of other people are around.

Keeping your belongings secure is also very important. Having a lockable purse and secure luggage is very helpful for your safety and peace of mind. 

Whenever you’re traveling solo, you should always share your travel plans with someone you trust and maintain communication with them regularly. 

Safety Concerns To Consider When Traveling To Hawaii FAQs

Can you Drink The Water in Hawaii?

Yes – In general, it is safe to drink tap water in Hawaii. Some areas in Hawaii may have naturally occurring minerals that can affect the taste, but these minerals are not typically harmful to your health.

If you prefer, you can also buy bottled water, which is widely available, but not necessary for most visitors. Using a reusable water bottle with a filter could help get rid of any unwanted taste for an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to stay hydrated in Hawaii.

Is Public Transportation Safe In Hawaii?

Yes – public transportation in Hawaii is generally considered safe for travelers. Hawaii offers several public transportation options on major islands, with the most extensive systems on Oahu and Maui. These options include buses (The BUS for Oahu and Maui Bus for Maui, trolleys, and the upcoming rail transit.

The bus is a great public transportation option in Hawaii. However, keep in mind the operating hours to ensure you have a ride back to your accommodation.

The most important aspect to consider with public transportation, especially at night, is what time these systems stop running. Plan accordingly to ensure that you can make it back home to your accommodation.

Note: From our experience, public transportation is effective, but can take up a lot of time out of your day. If you don’t want to waste time on transportation, consider renting a car!

Are The Homeless People In Hawaii Dangerous?

Not usually – Although the homeless population in Hawaii is quite high, they usually will not pay you any attention. However, it’s important to recognize that some homeless people may have untreated mental health issues, substance use disorders, or other challenges that could affect their behavior. These challenges are not unique to Hawaii, but it’s important to have compassion if you encounter homeless people.

To stay safe, you want to be aware of your surroundings and avoid confrontation. As a couple living in Hawaii, we’ve experienced very nice homeless people, and at other times we are very safe just avoiding and walking past. The key is to not look at them like their zoo animals and just mind your own business.

Can You Walk Around In Hawaii At Night?

Yes – Many areas throughout Hawaii are very safe, especially in well-populated and tourist-friendly areas, like Waikiki on Oahu for example. As with any new place, it’s essential to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines. 

The populated and tourist friendly areas in Hawaii are generally safe to walk around at night.

Here are some safety tips for walking around Hawaii at night:

  1. Stick to Well-Lit Areas
  2. Travel in Groups
  3. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
  4. Use Designated Paths and Walkways
  5. Plan Your Route
  6. Take Local or Hotel Staff Advice

Closing Thoughts: Safety Concerns To Consider When Traveling To Hawaii

Hawaii undoubtedly attracts travelers with its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm aloha spirit. However, beneath the post-card perfect scenery lies complex safety concerns that demand your attention. 

Whether you’re hiking up in the mountains for insane views, adventuring in Hawaii’s clear waters, or just sightseeing throughout the island, a mindful approach will ensure a positive Hawaii experience. Now, you have what it takes to ensure a smooth and secure visit.

Aloha and Safe Travels!