The Ultimate List of Safety Tips for Your Visit to Hawai’i

Nothing ruins a trip like an accident, friends. Except maybe a preventable infection! Hawai’i is truly as close to paradise as you will ever experience on Earth, but it doesn’t come without its dangers. 

Visitors to the islands are often in such over-the-top vacation mode (with good reason!), they often leave common sense behind. Or they think to themselves, “I came all this way, I’m not letting a ‘danger’ sign stop me now! Everybody’s doing it!” Well, this post is intended to help us all remember, “Safety first!” Yes, even in paradise!

Respect the Water

It’s beautiful, it’s mesmerizing, and it’s exciting. But the ocean is also dangerous, even if you know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid of it—respect it. Understand that it’s not just strong, it’s powerful. Understand that there’s a whole other world under there, one to be explored, but also protected from human disruption. 

Some general rules to follow are:

  1. Don’t jump in if you don’t know what’s down there or how deep it is. 
  2. Do know how to float. This can keep you alive if you get caught in a rip current. 
  3. If it doesn’t feel safe, don’t do it. 
  4. Know your ability, but more importantly, know your limitations. A swim in the lake  or a pool is not the same as a swim in the ocean. 
  5. Use reef safe sunscreen. With as many people as visit Hawaii and go in the water, that’s a lot of unscreen that goes into the ocean, including both straight from bodies and down the drains when it gets washed off in the shower. Sea life, including coral, will thank you! 
The waves are powerful all over the islands.
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Wear Real Shoes for Hiking

This is not the moment for flip flops or sandals! Some trails in the Hawaiian islands are well-maintained, and a few are even paved. But the vast majority of hikes have rugged terrain, steep inclines, and involve loose ground! Reduce your chances of falling, getting cuts on your feet, and losing your footing (hello, torn ACL!) and simply wear real shoes!

This is not the moment for flip flops.
Read on: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Feet

Bring Water Shoes

Speaking of protecting your feet, you will want water shoes. Even if you don’t plan to go in the water, bring a pair anyway! The sand in Hawaii is generally… chunky. As in, you’ll be stepping on rough pieces of rock, shell, and broken coral, all of which can cut your feet. Just ask my husband. After getting a bloody foot gash during a romantic walk on a Maui beach, he always packs his water shoes!

I’m always glad I brought my water shoes to Hawaii!
More here: 5 Things Your Forgot to Pack for Hawaii

Use (Reef Safe) Sunscreen

I know you can go without it at hone and be fine, but Hawaii’s sun is pretty strong! Why be uncomfortable for your entire trip because you got cocky your first day? (Trust me, I know from experience!) Wear your sunscreen, especially on your face, and bring a hat, too! 

Sunglasses and a hat are also a good idea!
Take it from my dermatologist: Your Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen

Hike or Swim with a Buddy (or Make a Buddy)

Hiking and swimming are two of the best things to do in the Hawaiian islands. But both can also turn dangerous in a hurry. If you’re traveling to Hawaii solo, go you! Just be sure to make friends, or at least be around other people at the beach or on popular hikes. You’d probably be fine, but there is safety in numbers. I’m a huge advocate for solo travel, or even taking a break from your travel companions when necessary (and sometimes it is!), but it’s definitely safer to hike or swim with someone else. 

You’ll never be along hiking up Diamond Head!
More here: Solo Travel Safety

Respect the Animals

Just as there’s safety for people in numbers, it’s safer for animals to leave them alone. Many are endangered or protected, like monk seals, sea turtles, and coral (yes, coral is a living thing), and others are simply wild. Don’t challenge a wild boar, shark, or other animal in the islands. It’s for your safety and theirs! 

Keep your distance!
See monk seals on Ni’ihau: Your Sneak Peek at Hawaii’s Forbidden Isle

Drink Water

Bring a refillable water bottle, and keep it with you! The flight to the islands will be more dehydrating than you think, and that gorgeous Hawaiian sunshine will also make you sweat throughout your trip. Don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day. 

The downcast look of a man who didn’t bring enough water.
Keep reading: The Best Tips to Visit Hawaii Like a Pro

Watch the Local News for Weather, Wave, and Tide Information

This is especially important for those of us who live in landlocked areas. Personally, I’m a Tennessee girl–I don’t know anything useful about waves and tides! That is, I didn’t until I started hearing about them on the morning news while in Hawaii. Just remember that the water is powerful, and the weather can be entirely different from one part of the island to another. Know what the wave and weather situations are, but be ready to be flexible, too.

Know what you’re getting into before you jump in the water!
More here: The Best Ways to Save BIG on Your Trip to Hawaii

Use Common Sense

Don’t leave this at home! Any time I talk to people in the travel industry–flight attendants, hotel staff, waitstaff, etc.–they all say the same thing about customers: It’s like they leave all common sense at home! I know it’s all new and exciting and different on vacation, but seriously, folks, watch where you’re going, look both ways, and if it seems dangerous, reconsider.

Most of all, just be safe.

Want more? Check out my Hawaiian Islands Page for everything you need to know!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

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