Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

With its beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and relaxed island vibe, Hawaii seems like paradise. But is it actually safe? If you’re planning a trip to the Aloha State, safety is likely top of mind.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Overall, Hawaii is an incredibly safe travel destination, with low violent crime rates compared to other US states. However, as with any place, you still need to take normal safety precautions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you an in-depth look at Hawaii’s safety across different islands and categories. You’ll learn about crime statistics, natural disasters, health and medical risks, transportation safety, and more.

We’ll also provide tips to help you travel wisely so your Hawaiian vacation can be smooth sailing.

Crime Rates and Safety by Island

Overview of Hawaii’s low crime rates

When it comes to safety, Hawaii is considered one of the safest states in the U.S. According to the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report, Hawaii has the lowest violent crime rate and lowest property crime rate in the nation.

Experts attribute Hawaii’s low crime rates to several factors like its isolated location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, small and spread out population across islands, and the Aloha Spirit culture of friendliness and community.

Oahu safety information

As the most populated Hawaiian island, Oahu does see more crime compared to the other islands. However, Oahu still maintains relatively low crime rates, especially in popular tourist areas like Waikiki, North Shore, Kailua, and Lanikai which all have minimal crime.

The Honolulu Police Department reports Oahu’s violent crime rate has gone down over the past decade while property crime has gone up slightly. Violent crimes like murder, rape, and assault remain rare occurrences in most parts of Oahu.

Maui safety information

With its laidback vibe and small population, Maui is considered one of the safest islands in Hawaii. Maui maintains exceptionally low crime rates, even lower than Oahu. According to Sperling’s Best Places, Maui’s violent crime rate is less than half of Oahu’s.

On Maui, petty theft and vehicle break-ins are the most common crimes reported, primarily targeting tourists in areas like Lahaina, Wailea, Kahului and popular snorkeling spots. But violent crime is extremely rare throughout the Valley Isle.

Kauai safety information

Dubbed the “Garden Isle”, Kauai rivals Maui when it comes to safety. With its small local population and large swaths of undeveloped tropical terrain, crime is scarce on Kauai.

The Kauai Police Department reports violent crime on Kauai has seen a major downward trend while property crime has gone up slightly in recent years. But overall, Kauai’s crime rates per capita remain incredibly low compared to national rates.

Big Island safety information

As Hawaii’s largest island geographically, the Big Island is mostly rural and undeveloped land. So it comes as no surprise this island has exceptionally low crime rates.

According to Neighborhood Scout’s safety index for cities, Hilo and Kailua-Kona rank in the top 1% of U.S. cities when it comes to low crime. So visitors to the Big Island can feel at ease knowing safety is not a major concern.

Natural Disasters and Hazards in Hawaii

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

Hawaii is located along the seismically active “Ring of Fire”, making it vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. The islands have experienced major quakes like the 1975 Kalapana earthquake (magnitude 7.2) and the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake (magnitude 6.7).

While concerning, improved building codes have made infrastructure better prepared. Tsunamis triggered by quakes across the Pacific do pose a risk. After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan, parts of Hawaii entered evacuation mode. Staying prepared and heeding warning systems can mitigate risks.

Volcanic Eruptions

All Hawaiian islands were formed by undersea volcanoes, so eruptions are a fact of life. Kīlauea on Hawaii Island has been continuously erupting since 1983. Its 2018 eruption destroyed over 700 homes and reshaped the coastline.

While lava flows can cause damage, volcanic smog (vog) and ashfall impact wider areas. During eruptions, vog and falling ash can affect those with respiratory issues across islands. Staying informed on activity status allows appropriate precautions.

Hurricanes and Storms

The Hawaiian Islands endure their share of heavy rainstorms and thunderstorms. And while less common than in Caribbean regions, Hawaii has experienced devastating hurricanes. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki pummeled Kauaʻi as a Category 4 storm. It stands as the most powerful hurricane to strike the islands.

During storm seasons, preparedness plans like emergency kits, secured outdoor items, and evacuation routes can prove lifesaving if a major cyclone impacts your area.

Rip Currents and Ocean Safety

With so much coastline, Hawaii does see frequent rip currents that can pull swimmers into deeper waters. Over 20 people tragically drown in these strong currents annually. Obeying warning flags and signs, swimming near lifeguards, and knowing how to break free from rips can prevent deaths.

Hawaii also has occasional shark attacks, venomous jellyfish like box jellyfish, and dangerous waves that lead to spine and head injuries. Caution is always advised in the natural Hawaiian environment.

Health and Medical Risks

Foodborne illness

Consuming contaminated food or water can lead to foodborne diseases like salmonella, E. coli, hepatitis A, and giardiasis in Hawaii. To avoid this, drink bottled water, avoid uncooked meat and seafood, wash hands and surfaces often, and get vaccinated against hepatitis A before traveling.

Report symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever to medical staff immediately. Hawaii follows U.S. food safety standards, so risks are low at reputable restaurants.

Mosquito-borne diseases

Hawaii does have mosquitos which can transmit diseases like dengue fever and Zika. There were 93 dengue fever cases in 2021 across Hawaii islands (source). Use EPA-registered bug spray, cover up with lightweight clothing, and avoid heavily wooded areas during dusk and dawn to prevent bites.

Heat illness

The tropical climate means heat exhaustion and heat stroke are risks in Hawaii, especially for visitors unused to the heat and humidity. Drink plenty of fluids, avoid extended sun exposure during midday hours, use cooling items like spray bottles, umbrellas and damp towels, know the signs of heat illness, and immediately get help if symptoms arise to prevent the condition from becoming life-threatening.

Ocean hazards

Majestic as Hawaii’s ocean vistas are, the natural elements pose very real hazards. Rogue waves have caused injuries and deaths. Rip currents can pull even experienced swimmers away from shore very quickly.

Obey all posted warnings, swim only at lifeguarded beaches, keep non-swimmers and children away from the surf, and learn how to safely respond if caught in a rip current (swim parallel to shore until out of the current).

Staying healthy

Despite these risks, Hawaii remains an exceptionally safe destination health-wise if proper precautions are taken. Getting travel insurance with emergency medical and evacuation coverage is highly recommended. Hawaii has world-class hospitals and medical facilities able to handle most any issue.

Taking basic steps will allow you to prevent problems so you can relax and safely enjoy the Hawaii’s natural beauty and culture.

Getting Around Hawaii Safely

Driving safety tips

Driving in Hawaii can be a fun way to explore the islands, but it does come with some safety considerations. Here are some tips for staying safe on Hawaii’s roads:

  • Be aware of narrow roads and bridges – Some roads, especially on the more rural islands, can be quite narrow with little shoulder room. Bridges may also have weight limits, so pay attention to signs.
  • Watch for stopped vehicles – Drivers often stop suddenly to look at sights or pull over for photo ops, so keep a safe following distance.
  • Yield to pedestrians – People may be crossing streets in areas with heavy foot traffic, like beach parks or hiking trailheads. Yield and watch carefully.
  • Get directions ahead of time – Use a GPS or map out your route. It’s easy to get lost or stuck with no cell service in remote areas.
  • Avoid driving at night – Deer, goats, and other animals frequently cross roads after dark. Be extra vigilant.

Following these precautions can help reduce your chance of an accident while driving in paradise!

Pedestrian safety

Walking is a common way to get around Hawaii’s beach towns and attractions. Be sure to protect yourself as a pedestrian with these safety tips:

  • Use crosswalks – Marked crosswalks, especially those with signals or warning lights, provide the safest place to cross busy roads.
  • Be visible at night – Wear light colors or reflective gear to stand out after dark.
  • Watch for vehicles backing up – Drivers may fail to notice people walking behind vehicles in parking lots and roadside pullouts.
  • Follow beach warning flags and signs – Lifeguarded beaches provide critical safety information to prevent ocean injuries and drownings.

Being alert and making smart choices while walking around the islands is key. Look out for each other and help ensure a safe visit.

Air travel precautions

Hawaii’s airports bustle with visitors flying in from around the world each day. Follow these tips for smooth and safe air travel:

  • Arrive early – Long TSA lines and busy terminals mean extra time is key. Aim for 90-120 minutes before domestic flights and 3 hours for international.
  • Research airline baggage policies – Some carriers have special rules for surfboards, golf clubs, or oversized baggage on Hawaii routes.
  • Pack important items in carry-on bags – Lost luggage is a nuisance. Keep medications, electronics, and valuables with you.
  • Check current alerts – Read TSA and airport guidance on permitted items and changing security rules before packing.

Although air travel involves risks, awareness, planning, and patience are your best defenses for staying safe. This allows you to reach paradise quickly and focus on island fun!

Tips for Staying Safe in Hawaii

Choose accommodations wisely

When booking a hotel or vacation rental in Hawaii, opt for well-rated establishments in safe areas. Avoid isolated accommodations or rooms on the ground floor, which can be more vulnerable to break-ins. Many hotels and condos have security personnel and surveillance cameras for added peace of mind.

Take valuables precautions

Unfortunately, petty theft does occur in popular tourist destinations. Secure passports, cash, phones, and other valuables in the hotel safe when not in use. Avoid leaving belongings unattended on the beach. Consider investing in a waterproof pouch to safely carry essentials in the ocean.

Be wary of pickpockets in crowded areas.

Be aware of surroundings

Situational awareness is key, even in a tropical paradise! Be alert in secluded spots, at night, or when separated from your group. Avoid confronting or provoking strangers. Report concerning behaviors to authorities right away. Travel in pairs when possible.

Let friends or family know your plans and check-ins.

Prepare properly for activities

Hawaii offers endless adventures, but safety comes first! Research conditions and choose beginner-friendly tours. Follow all instructor guidelines for ocean or hiking excursions. Check tide schedules. Wear a lifejacket on boats. Reapply sunscreen often. Stay hydrated and listen to your body’s limits.

Adventure with care so the whole ohana (family) enjoys the islands safely.


The Hawaiian Islands may be paradise, but they’re not immune to safety issues. By following general precautions and using sound judgment, you’re unlikely to encounter trouble.

While Hawaii is considered very safe, educate yourself on potential risks based on where you are staying and what activities you plan to do. Taking a few simple precautions will allow you to fully relax and enjoy the magic of these beautiful islands with peace of mind.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts