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How to Stay Safe When Hiking in Hawaii

Updated on May 4, 2014
Hiking Safety Tips for Hawaiian Trails
Hiking Safety Tips for Hawaiian Trails | Source

Hawaii has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world for hikers. There are so many hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty that any hiker, from the leisurely stroller to the extreme fanatic, can find all the hiking joy they could ever want in Hawaii.

However, all of those trails can mean that hiking in Hawaii can get dangerous as well. No matter what your skill level.

  • Hiking is a beautiful adventure.
  • Adventure means new and exciting.
  • New and exciting can mean the unexpected.
  • The unexpected can mean precarious.
  • You get the idea…

Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail on Oahu got wet and windy fast which caused a pleasant experience to become a possibly dangerous one.
Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail on Oahu got wet and windy fast which caused a pleasant experience to become a possibly dangerous one. | Source

Here are some simple Hiking Safety Tips

It doesn’t matter how short or “easy” you’re expecting your hike to be. Bring a cell phone, sunscreen and where the proper equipment and even equipment that doesn’t seem like it would be needed. If it’s hot and sunny when you begin then pack a warmer shirt or rain jacket. If it’s pouring when you start then pack sunscreen and water. You just never know and hiking means you need to prepare for the unexpected.

Real World Example: I did the Makapu’u Light House Trail with my family and when we started it was overcast. Halfway up the short hill, we started to get pelted with high winds rain. It was unpleasant but we finished. By the time we were done and at the bottom of the trail again the sun was out and we headed to Hanauma Bay.

Weather can go bad fast.  Even easy hikes can seem more difficult and trying.
Weather can go bad fast. Even easy hikes can seem more difficult and trying. | Source

Try to never hike with alone. Sure, some hiking trails in Hawaii are easy and will have plenty of people around, like the Diamond Head State Monument Hike. Other trails will be almost deserted. When we hiked the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail we didn’t see anyone for two hours.

Bring a cell phone and make sure the person you’re with brings theirs. You may not have service. You may not need it. However, asides from communication with the outside world if you should need it, many smartphones will have helpful map and first aid apps. Make sure you charge your phone completely prior to the hike.

Even "easy" hikes can become a challenge like the Wa'ahila Ridge Trail on Oahu.
Even "easy" hikes can become a challenge like the Wa'ahila Ridge Trail on Oahu. | Source

Don’t drink the water unless you brought it with you. Now, if you find yourself stranded for days then, yes, do your best to treat the water and make it potable. However, don’t be drinking untreated stream, river and pond water just for the fun of it. You could really sick from unseen bacteria. It is recommended that you pack at least 2 liters of water, per person-per day.

Pack mosquito repellent. You really don’t know how badly you’ll need mosquito repellent on Hawaii hiking trails (even on breezy, pleasant beaches in some case) until you’re being swarmed by masses of mosquitos. Besides possibly carrying disease, mosquito bites can ruin a hike and the night after as you itch your bumps.

Always, always, always abide by the warning and guide signs on Hawaiian Hiking trails. There are some trails that are beginner level to a point but then turn into moderate or difficult (dangerous) hikes past a certain point. Wa’ahila Ridge Trail is a perfect example of this on Oahu. Once you finish the easy portion you can continue to climb Mt. Olympus which can get be downright treacherous in the in rain and wind.

If you’re a new hiker or unfamiliar with Hawaii Hiking Trails, then consider joining a hiking group. You can find many of these online on sites like Facebook.

Wa'ahila Ridge Trail Warning Signs.  Always abide by warning signs on Hawaiian hiking trails.
Wa'ahila Ridge Trail Warning Signs. Always abide by warning signs on Hawaiian hiking trails. | Source

How Bad Weather Looks on a Hike

This video isn't the best but it will give you sense of how bad weather can make a relatively easy stroll like the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail become a bigger deal and more trying than it should have been.

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