Hawaii hiking safety reminders

Here are proven tips to stay safe and comfortable while hiking in Hawaii.
Surrounded by nature on a Hawaii hiking trail

There are many fantastic hiking trails across the Hawaiian Islands. These trails allow you to enjoy Hawaii’s beautiful environment and take in some stunning views, too.

We’ve noticed a recent uptick in the number of hikers requiring rescue in Hawaii. So, we thought it would be a good idea to review some safety tips.

Stay on the designated hiking trails

We’ve been following Hawaii news for nearly two decades. The most common reason that a hikers require rescue is that they went off trail. Just in recent weeks, there was news of a hiker on Oahu who had gone off trail, fallen and had to hold onto a tree as he was unable to climb or descend. Just days earlier, in the news, there were two hikers who went off trail and got lost at Manoa Falls.

While we’re talking about staying on designated trails, we strongly discourage anyone from trespassing or hiking on kapu (forbidden) trails.

Wear shoes designed for hiking

The type of shoe you wear can make a big difference in your comfort and safety. We’ve seen people slipping and falling from hiking in “slippahs” (flip flops).

We recommend a shoe with tread that keeps you stable on slippery and uneven surfaces. In our article about the types of shoes you need for a Hawaii vacation, we go into more details about comfortable hiking shoe selections.

For extra stability, use a hiking pole or stick

Hiking sticks and trekking poles help with balance as you walk on uneven surface and/or maneuvering over rocks, roots and hardened lava surfaces.

We have taken several hikes in Hawaii that we were thanking ourselves for bringing our collapsable hiking poles. They don’t take much room in luggage, which makes them easy for travel. I generally just use one hiking pole, but some people prefer two for added stability.

Collapsable hiking poles are relatively inexpensive to purchase. For example, here are two trekking poles for under $25.

Bring water

When you are out hiking on one of Hawaii’s scenic trails, you’ll likely be sweating. So, make sure you are hydrated before your hike and keep hydrated while you’re hiking.

The first time we hiked the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail, we made some mistakes with one of them being that we didn’t bring enough water. It can be a bit scary when you’re thirsty and you’re out of water.

Watch for and avoid flash floods

Hawaii can be prone to dangerous flash floods. If possible avoid hiking on a rainy day and never cross a flooded stream. Learn more about flash floods in our article.

Bring snacks

It’s always a good idea to bring some snacks to enjoy and to keep you energized.

Another reason to bring snacks is in case you get stranded because of a flash flood.

More hiking suggestions for your safety and comfort

  • Wear mosquito repellant
  • Wear quick drying clothes
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear a hat or visor
  • Bring a fully-charged phone

Have you ever been in a dangerous hiking situation? What other suggestions would you add to this list?

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