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Safety First! Safety Tips for Vacationing in Paradise

The Island of Hawaiʻi is known for its gorgeous sunsets, pristine waters, beautiful landscapes and friendly people. There’s nothing like a perfect holiday in paradise to relax, re-energize and enjoy life to its fullest. However, while it’s important to pack your sunscreen and bikini, it’s also good to remind yourself that occasionally plans can go array.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaiʻi Island, also known as VASH, is here to assist visitors to the island who experience adversity. VASH recognizes that even during the fun and relaxation of vacations, unfortunate events can happen. And when far from home, visitors do not usually have access to their own support systems and resources.

VASH shares the aloha spirit with visitors affected by adversity. They also stress the following safety tips, to ensure your vacation is filled with positive, tropical memories.

Ocean Safety

Snorkeling, swimming or surfing, you can’t beat warm weather and the fun of an ocean outing. Good times on the water means remembering water safety and having guidelines to ensure your vacation memories are nothing but the best. Hawaiʻi’s waters are warm and inviting, however nature is also very powerful so remember to pack your common sense along with your sunscreen when enjoying the beautiful ocean.

The biggest danger you will ever face at the beach is the surf. Unless you’re a strong, comfortable swimmer, only go in the water at beaches with lifeguards. Never swim alone and only swim at lifeguard-protected beaches, or off commercial snorkel boats with trained crew. Always pay attention to the lifeguards – listen and ask questions

Water conditions vary according to season and location so heed warning signs. Watch the water for at least 15 minutes before entering. Look for rip currents, watch for waves, and look for other swimmers.

Always go under the waves, and you get stuck in a strong current, stay calm and wave for assistance. Remember, ‘If in doubt, don’t go out.’

Diving or jumping into the ocean off rocks or cliffs may seem fun, but it is dangerous and not recommended.

Sun Protection – Cover Up!

It’s tempting to spend your first day in Hawaiʻi lounging on a beautiful sandy beach, but it could be a regretful mistake. The sun’s rays are very strong in Hawaiʻi, and severe sunburns are common. Limit your time in direct sunlight and use plenty of reef-safe sunscreen with a rating of 30 or higher. Even on a cloudy day, the sun can give you a nasty burn. A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are also a great idea.

Coral Reefs and Jellyfish

Approximately 8 to 12 days after the full moon, the tides carry box jellyfish into Hawaiʻi’s waters. Although beautiful, these creatures can pack a nasty sting that can be dangerous to those who have allergies. Also beautiful are Hawaii’s coral reefs. The coral reefs are home to millions of living creatures and, if stepped on, not only kill the delicate coral but also leave cuts and abrasions that can become easily infected.

Personal Safety

Hawaiʻi is known for being safer than many places in the United States, however we do have a relatively high property crime rate. That being said, it’s important to not leave valuables in your rental car, even in the trunk. Rental cars are pretty easy to identify and are often targeted by local criminals. “Smash-and-grab” petty theft can happen anywhere, even in the most populated areas. Keep your valuables locked in your hotel room safe and always keep an eye on your valuables when at the beach. Don’t carry large amounts of cash and divide your money and credit cards.

Drive with Aloha

In an effort to extend courtesy to fellow drivers, many residents of the island purposefully give up right-of-way at intersections and wave on other travelers. Be prepared for an invitation to enter an intersection out of turn.


Hawaiʻi Island has 11 of the 13 eco-environments. There can be heavy rain and fog in some areas. Inclement weather, due to hail and impenetrable fog and clouds, can catch travelers off guard in some locations, such as Saddle Road. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t go!

Narrow Roads

You may encounter one-lane, steep, curved roads with no shoulders and narrow bridges. Slow down and remain alert for signage explaining right-of-way.

Natural Hazards

Depending upon your location, it’s not uncommon to encounter wildlife such as pigs and goats, even on well-maintained roads and in higher speed zones. Stay alert!

Remote Driving

Plan ahead in regards to gas, water and food. Some stretches of road on the island lack facilities for several miles. Many gas stations, even in town, don’t have functioning air and water fill stations.

Acceleration Lanes

Hawaiʻi has a unique system of merge lanes allowing vehiccles to pull off smaller roads onto main roads and accelerate in a separate lane before joining the main flow of traffic. Watch for bicyclists when you merge left into traffic.

Visitor Assistance

If you experience any adversity such as an accident, medical emergency, or serious illness or become a victim of a crime and have a police report, please call the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaiʻi Island (VASH) at 808-756-0392. They may be able to assist.