If you’re planning to take advantage of any of our many scenic trails while you’re here, it’s paramount that you are well versed in Hawaii hiking safety. Hiking is a terrific way to see parts of our islands that many travelers never see, but you need to be sure to take precautions so that your fun hike doesn’t cause injury, illness, or worse.
“Is Hawaii hiking safety different than safe hiking anywhere else?” you may be wondering. The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Certain safety precautions are common to all hikers, but when you’re in Hawaii, you need to watch out for special risks you may not be used to when hiking on the mainland.
Hawaii Hiking Safety: What You Need to Know:
1) Dress for the climate/activity.
Maybe that sounds obvious to you, but you wouldn’t believe how many people we’ve seen hiking in flip-flops and bikini tops. Only hike with sturdy footwear and clothing that layers easily. Yes, it can get cold, even in Hawaii, especially if you’re hiking early in the morning, through shady bamboo groves, and/or at high altitudes.
2) Know your capabilities.
Don’t attempt a hike that is beyond your skill level. If you are a total beginner, be sure to stick to total beginner trails. Also, be aware that some trails in Hawaii are narrow and even go along the very edges of cliffs or sheer mountainsides. If you have issues with vertigo, you’ll likely want to steer clear of these kinds of hikes.
3) Watch out for water.
Hawaii hiking safety means something specific when it comes to water: Here, flash flooding is a real danger. If you are in a valley or hiking near a stream or river, be sure you are paying attention to the weather because flash floods happen often on Hawaii hiking trails and injury or even drowning is possible. Check the weather before you go and pay close attention to posted signs.
Another water danger in Hawaii comes from our fresh water streams: leptospirosis. This is a bacteria that can cause you serious illness or, sometimes, death. Never drink the water in our streams. Always carry enough water with you for your entire hike. When you are halfway through your water supply, it’s time to turn back.
4) Remember: You’re in Hawaii!
Hawaii hiking safety means being aware that you are in the tropics. Bring sunscreen, a hat, bug spray and – we’ll say it again – plenty of water. Also keep in mind that the sun sets early here. You don’t want to be hiking in the dark, so be sure you know when sunset is before you set off and make sure to give yourself lots of time to get back to civilization safely.
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