Things to Know
Hawaii continues to be what many people consider as paradise. In fact, many visitors consistently give Hawaii high marks for attributes relating to our natural beauty, safety and security.
While you are out and about in our Hawaiian Islands, please keep the following in mind to help you to have a safe and satisfying experience.
Ocean Water Safety Tips
Hawaii is famous for its beautiful beaches and ocean activities, but Hawaii’s coastal areas are created by nature so use common sense and enjoy these areas with care. Ocean conditions around the island vary according to seasons, weather and location so it's best to swim in areas where lifeguards are present and you can consult them before going in. Warning signs on the beach indicate dangerous surf so please heed the signs and stay out of the water. Here’s a beach tip that the locals know: Don’t turn your back on the waves; they come in sets and so a few minutes of large waves may be separated by a few minutes of deceiving calm. If you are caught in a strong current, wave to signal for help.
Click below for water safety videos:
Click below for current ocean conditions for the following islands:
Pay Special Attention to Children
Please keep your eyes on your little ones at all times. Lifeguards are not babysitters and they are responsible for the safety of the entire beach. If you have a child playing on the sand, pay special attention to the waves behind them. It may seem peaceful for a few minutes...until the next set rolls in. Flotation devices and air mattresses can also be dangerous in the ocean, leading children in deeper water. Remember, most incidents occur suddenly and in the shallow areas close to shore.
Once a month Hawaii beaches are visited by "Carybdea alata" also known as "box jellyfish." Named for their boxy shape, the jellyfish are carried by the tides into Hawaiian waters to spawn 8 to 12 days after every full moon. They range from one to three inches wide with tentacles up to two feet long. Stings from these deceivingly gentle looking creatures can be extremely painful and dangerous to people with allergies. Whenever you enter the ocean, it's always a good idea to check the sand and in the shallow areas first to make sure it's safe. If you're not sure, ask a lifeguard.
The SOEST ocean safety site is a great way to decide which beaches are right for you.
The coral reefs around our island are made of millions of individual coral organisms that thrive in the oxygen-rich waters along the shore. In addition to hundreds of species of fishes, the reef is also home to sea anemone, crustaceans and many varieties of seaweed. While these reefs are beautiful to behold, it's best to look but not touch. When snorkeling, take care to keep your fins away from the coral heads. Even light scrapes from your fins can damage the delicate coral animals.
In addition to being very fragile, coral can cause nasty cuts and abrasions. If you receive a coral cut, make sure you clean it well with fresh water and see a doctor if inflammation occurs. Some sea anemone have protective spikes that release a venom to ward off predators (including people), and of course you should never poke your fingers into holes because eels and other creatures will defend their territory with their teeth.
Be a safe and smart pedestrian and know the rules. Review information provided by the Hawaii Department of Transportation on Walkwise Hawaii, a program aimed at helping pedestrians to be safe. Information is available in Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean languages.
• Keep valuables in your hotel room or a hotel safe. When out for the day, keep essentials with you; don’t lock valuables in the car.
• Keep an eye on your belongings while on the beach.
• If you must leave items in your trunk, place them there prior to arriving at your destination.
• Carry travelers' checks instead of large amounts of cash. Divide money and credit cards.
We want you to enjoy Hawaii's tropical climate and be sun smart at the same time. Even when the sun is hidden by clouds, protect yourself from ultra-violet rays that come through. Before going out for the day, it’s a good idea to liberally apply sun-block with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of 30 or higher, and to reapply after swimming. You may also consider wearing a brimmed hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirt and pants for added protection from the sun's rays.
Visit the Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources website for State Parks Division safety tips.
You can also visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Special Alerts page for information on how HTA keeps visitors informed and safe during any crisis situation that may occur.
For more detailed safety information, view our online Travel Safety Brochure.
Hawaii is a beautiful place to visit but even in paradise an unpleasant experience could possibly occur. If you experience any adversity such as an accident, medical emergency, serious illness or become a victim of a crime and have a police report, please call the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH).
Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (Oahu)
Ph: (808) 926-8274
Visitor Aloha Society of Kauai
Ph: (808) 482-0111
Maui Visitors Bureau (Maui County)
Ph: (808) 244-3530
Visitor Aloha Society of West Hawaii (Hawaii Island - Kona)
Ph: (808) 756-0785
Visitor Aloha Society of East Hawaii (Hawaii Island - Hilo)
Ph: (808) 756-1472
Please also have your police report number handy.