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For more information about safety while traveling in Hawaii, watch the video below, or take look at the electronic version of our travel safety guide.
Protect Against Mosquito Bites
Although mosquitoes can be found year-round in Hawaii’s warm climate, summer is peak season. Mosquitoes can act as carriers of diseases, such as zika, dengue and chikungunya, which are primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Fortunately, none of these diseases are native to Hawaii, nor are they being spread locally at this time. Help prevent mosquito bites, and the risk of diseases being transmitted, by applying EPA-registered insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET, and wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts, pants and shoes when outdoors, especially at sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are most active. For more information, visit FightTheBiteHawaii.com.
Pedestrian SafetyBe a safe, smart pedestrian and know the rules. Review information provided by the Hawaii Department of Transportation at Walk Wise Hawaii, a program aimed at helping pedestrians be safer. Information is available in Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean languages.
Personal SafetyThe majority of visitors to Hawaii will never have to deal with crimes like theft, but it’s always a good idea to practice basic personal safety precautions when exploring our islands.
- Keep valuables in your hotel room or a hotel safe. When out for the day, keep essentials with you.
- 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.
Enjoying Hawaii’s tropical climate means being sun-smart and wearing proper sun protection at all times. Even when the sun is hidden by clouds, protect yourself from ultraviolet rays that come through. Before going out for the day, liberally apply sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of 30 or higher, and reapply after swimming. Please bring reef-safe sunscreen that doesn't contain hazardous chemicals used in many sunscreens. Those chemicals cause bleaching of coral and damage the islands' ocean habitat. You may also consider wearing a brimmed hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirt and pants for added protection from the sun's rays.
Hawaii is famous for its beautiful beaches and ocean activities, but Hawaii’s coastal areas are created by nature, and therefore can be quite volatile and dangerous; always use common sense and enjoy these areas with care. Ocean conditions around the islands vary according to seasons, weather and location, so it's best to swim in areas where lifeguards are present. Warning signs on the beach indicate dangerous surf, so please heed the signs and stay out of the water. Also, be aware that you shouldn't stand on coral reefs.
Here’s a beach tip that the locals know: Don’t turn your back on the waves. They come in sets, 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.
Pay Special Attention to Children
Please keep your eyes on your keiki (kids) at all times. Lifeguards are not babysitters, and they are responsible for the safety of the entire beach. If your child is playing on the sand, pay attention to the waves; 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 into deeper water. Remember, most incidents occur suddenly and in the shallow areas close to shore.
Once a month, Hawaii’s 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 eight 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, especially to those with allergies. Whenever you enter the ocean, it's always a good idea to check the sand and shallow areas first to see if box jellyfish are present. If you're not sure, ask a lifeguard. The Hawaii Beach Safety website is a great resource to find more information.
The coral reefs around our islands 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 fish, 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.
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.
Hawaii is a beautiful place to visit, but even in paradise unpleasant situations can occur. If you experience any adversity, such as an accident, medical emergency or serious illness, or if you become a victim of a crime and have a police report, please call the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH). Have your police report number handy when you call.
Here is the contact information for VASH offices on the major Hawaiian Islands:
Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (Oahu)
Website - Phone: (808) 926-8274
Visitor Aloha Society of Kauai
Website - Phone: (808) 482-0111
Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (Maui County)
Phone: (808) 244-3530
Visitor Aloha Society of West Hawaii (Island of Hawaii – Kona)
Website - Phone: (808) 756-0785
Visitor Aloha Society of East Hawaii (Island of Hawaii – Hilo)
Website - Phone: (808) 756-1472
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency
Hawaii's state Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has developed a warning system to alert the public in the case of an emergency. If you hear Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sirens (a steady siren tone for three minutes and repeated if necessary), listen to your car radio, turn on the television or ask hotel personnel for emergency instructions. Please note that Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sirens are routinely tested at 11:45 am on the first working day of each month.
Emergency Broadcast Stations: Designated radio stations will broadcast important information if an emergency occurs, such as flash floods and other events.
Island of Hawaii:
- 670 AM KPUA (Hilo)
- 850 AM KHLO (Hilo)
- 94.7 FM KWXX (Hilo)
- 97.9 FM KKBG (Hilo)
- 106.1 FM KLEO (Kona)
- 93.5 FM KQNG
- 550 AM KMVI
- 590 AM and 92.3 FM KSSK
- 96.3 FM KRTR
Foreign-Language Radio Stations that Broadcast Emergency-Related Information:
- 1210 AM KZOO (Japanese)
- 1270 AM KNDI (Samoan, Marshallese, Visayan, Tagalog, Cantonese)
- 1540 AM KREA (Korean)
Watches and Warnings
Watches and warnings are prepared for The Hawaiian Islands by the National Weather Service Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu. When watches and warnings are issued, visitors should closely monitor radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the event's progress and instructions from Civil Defense authorities. The following descriptions are provided to assist you in understanding the various watches, warnings and advisories that could be issued.
|Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch:||Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.|
|Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning:||Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.|
|Flood Advisory:||Exercise caution due to hazardous driving conditions. Be alert for ponding and debris on roadway, slippery roads and poor visibility.|
|Flood Watch:||Flooding is possible. Be alert!|
|Flash Flood Warning:||Flooding is imminent or already occurring. Get to high ground if you are in a flood-prone area.|
|Tsunami Watch:||Issued by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center after distant earthquakes with potential to create a tsunami in Hawaii. Tsunami waves are possible. Visit their website for tsunami advisories.|
|Urgent Local Tsunami Warning:||Issued when a local earthquake has occurred and damaging waves are probable. Wave travel time may be as short as 10–20 minutes.|
NOTE: In addition to information from state and county Civil Defense agencies and other emergency responders, visitors staying at hotel properties will be provided with information on what to do during various crisis situations. Emergency procedures for your hotel can typically be found in the back of the information compendium in your guest room.
In the case of a severe emergency, such as a hurricane, the Civil Defense warnings on the radio and television stations may advise you to evacuate further inland, to higher ground or to an emergency shelter. These shelters are located primarily at schools and parks. It's important to note that shelters do not stock supplies, so if possible, bring food, water, clothing, blankets, medicines and other necessities.
Hitting the road on your Hawaii vacation? Learn the basics of driver safety before you buckle in.More
Protecting Hawaii's Marine Life & Fragile Environment
Protect Our Natural Resources
According to many conservationists, Hawaii is the "endangered species capital of the world." Over millions of years, plants and animals that were carried here by ocean currents, winds and birds evolved into species found nowhere else in the world. Today, many of these species and the ecosystems that support them are threatened. As a visitor to Hawaii, you can help protect our natural resources. Together we can preserve Hawaii's unique environment for generations to come. Please scroll through this section to view videos that will help you learn how to protect Hawaii’s valuable resources!
Protecting Sea Life
How can you help preserve Hawaii's sea life? Keep a respectful distance from all the marine animals. Don't feed the animals; they have their own diets. Also, put trash in its place to keep the beaches clean and the animals safe.
Protecting Hawaii's Oceans and Reefs
How you can help protect Hawaii's fragile reefs: 1. Don't walk on the reef. 2. Don't dump fish & plants into the ocean. 3. Don't feed the fish. They have their own natural food. 4. Let fish come to you. 5. Never take or pick coral. 6. Put litter in its place. 7. Sterilize and thoroughly clean diving equipment between locations. 8. Don't drag kayaks or surfboards over the reef because it breaks the coral and destroys the ecosystem.
Protecting Hawaii's Low to High Environment
Saving the rainforest isn't just about saving biodiversity. It's about protecting the resources we all depend on. How you can help protect Hawaii's nature reserves: * Brush/clean your boots before you enter a nature preserve to remove seeds and eggs of invasive pests. * Never stray off the trail. Staying on the beaten path helps to protect native plants. It's also safer because many trails in Hawaii have hidden cliffs. * Always bring your own water. Water from streams may look clear but may contain bacteria.
Protecting Hawaii's Low Lands - Local Agriculture
A single infected fruit or a little dirt in a bag with tiny bugs in it can seriously damage Hawaii's agricultural industry and natural communities. This is one of the reasons Hawaii is so strict about controlling how plants and animals are brought into the state.They are also good reasons to respect the rules and declare anything questionable you might be bringing into Hawaii with you.
Dolphin SMART Program
Dolphin SMART is a partnership program developed by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and the Dolphin Ecology Project. By choosing to follow Dolphin SMART criteria, businesses demonstrate their support for dolphin conservation. The next time you choose a dolphin tour, do your part and book Dolphin SMART businesses. Look for businesses with Dolphin SMART flags and decals displaying the current year.