5 Simple Tips for Staying Safe in Hawaii

Hawaii may be known as one of the most awesome places on earth (and it is!), but as with all traveling, it’s best to keep your wits about you when you make your way around the islands.

Hawaii is hardly a dangerous place to travel—the good weather keeps people mellow—but while you’ll come across many friendly faces, there are also not-so-friendly faces who may take advantage of the fact that you are not from the islands.

Here are five simple tips you cannot afford to ignore when you are traveling in Hawaii:

1. Be Aware of Your Belongings

This tip is kind of a no-brainer. However, it’s easy to lose track of your valuables when you are having loads of fun!

Take, for example, Waikiki. The majority of tourists stay in Waikiki, an exciting and often crowded area. The sidewalks of the main Waikiki strip, along Kalakaua Avenue, are home to many great street performers.

There can be large crowds of people surrounding a good act. Yet while your attention is focused on the performance, a pickpocket is focused on your wallet! Always zip your purses and pockets and keep track of your wallet.

Generally, you don’t have to wear something like a money belt in Hawaii, but it’s important to be aware of your valuables in crowded places.

2. Keep Your Valuables Away from Plain View

If you’re renting a car in Hawaii (recommended), this tip is invaluable. It’s easy to leave your expensive camera in your seat or your wallet in the cup holder after you park the car, but be aware: Your valuables are now in plain view and ripe for the taking!

The last thing you need on a relaxing vacation is a thief breaking into your car.

Nowadays it’s not enough to lock your car doors after you park. Break-ins happen most often at the beach parking lot, where you’ll leave a lot of your things inside your car as you frolic in the ocean. Be smart and leave your things, if you must, inside your car’s trunk or under the seats, tucked far away from the sight of would-be thieves.

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3. Abide by the Traffic Laws

Pedestrians and drivers alike should abide by the traffic laws. If you’re on foot, be sure to look for the “walk” and “don’t walk” signals. In Hawaii, and on Oahu especially, jaywalking is not tolerated, and it’s a surefire way to get a nice ticket from the local traffic officer.

If you’re driving, be sure to obey the speed limits. In many U.S. states, speed limits are often regarded as recommendations, but not in Hawaii! It’s not so much that police officers are cracking down, but drivers self-regulate.

Hawaiian drivers are known to be slow drivers overall. It is best to go with the flow of traffic rather than being “that tourist.”

4. Obey Warning Signs

The ocean and mountains of Hawaii are gorgeous places, but also dangerous. The ocean is unforgiving and Hawaii’s weather forecasters are always watching out for potentially dangerous tides and box jellyfish. Fortunately, they do their job well!

Even if you don’t get a chance to check the Internet or the news, there are signposts at the beach. Since the majority of beaches do not have lifeguards, it is extremely important to obey the signpost warnings.

Do yourself a favor: If there’s a warning, don’t go swimming. The best practice would be to avoid going into the water at all; staying close to the beach will not prevent you from being swept into the sea by a rogue wave or stung by a box jellyfish (ouch!).

Likewise, Hawaii’s state-maintained hiking trails are well-marked. There are usually signposts marking dangerous paths, unmaintained paths, potential landslides and steep drop-offs. Although a helicopter rescue could make a good story, it’s best to avoid the drama and obey these signposts.

5. Avoid Dangerous Neighborhoods

Adventurous travelers love to stray from the beaten path. It’s always an excellent idea to do your research if you are such an adventurous traveler. The best source of information is a local, and if you don’t know any, the Internet or the hotel concierge are your next best bets.

What’s considered a dangerous neighborhood? You can rely on crime statistics, but that’s not always indicative. For example, Waikiki is a hotspot for pickpockets, but that doesn’t mean the area is particularly dangerous.

A good gauge is whether you’d feel comfortable walking around in the area. That’s why asking a Hawaii resident is the best way to get the vibe of the place. In fact, the ideal situation is to befriend a local and have him or her take you around!

If your wanderings take you into a neighborhood where you feel uncomfortable, it’s best to listen to your instincts and turn around.

Do the research, obey all laws and advisories, use common sense and trust your gut when you get a bad feeling and you should stay completely safe on your journey. Your vacation should be one of the best times of your life. Don’t ruin it by taking silly risks!