Hawaii adventure guide: How to do it safely

While Hawaii charms you with its awesome scenery and amazing experiences, it pays to be prepared so you can enjoy everything safely.

Author: Kelsey Love - check out her blog!

Each of the 4 major islands, including Hawaii, Maui, Oahu and Kauai, offers a unique kind of beauty and opportunities for adventure, including viewing active lava flows, hiking through bamboo forests to hidden waterfalls, scuba diving with manta rays, stargazing atop volcanoes, and more. And while it remains one of the most enchanting island destinations in the world, Hawaii is not for the faint of heart when it comes to exploration, and more specifically, safe exploration.

Anticipate your needs

When setting out on a full day adventure, make sure to pack everything you're likely to need and want, including plenty of drinking water, snacks, protective clothing, proper footwear, a map, and more. Make sure to tell other members of your party (or your accommodation manager, if traveling solo) of your whereabouts and general planned time of return, should anything go wrong. While the chance of serious danger or accidents is small, the island's many nooks and crannies can make it difficult to pinpoint missing individuals when certain areas can't be initially ruled out.

Designate an adventure buddy

Most accidents, especially in the ocean, occur when people get separated from the group or decide to go out on their own. Be sure to designate a partner when swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and even paddle boarding and kayaking, and keep a special watch on both younger and older members of your group. While joining tours with experienced, professional tour guides can offer reassurance, be sure to accurately report any vital information, including serious health conditions pertaining to you or any member of your group, before the tour begins.

If there's no path, there's a reason

If ocean sports aren't your cup of tropical adventure, no worries. Each Hawaiian island has a variety of land activities and hiking trails, perfect for all fitness levels. And while Hawaii is an amazing place to hike due to the many available microclimates, scenic views and the fact that there's zero poisonous snakes, it's still recommended to stick to the worn trails and paths during your adventure. First, hiking too far into uncharted territory may cause confusion when trying to find your way back out - more than a few groups of people have had to be helicoptered out - and also, you could end up accidentally trespassing on private property without knowing it. Stick to the trails, and you'll be treated to otherworldly, picture-perfect views without putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

Don't selfie your way into oblivion

Once upon a time, sharks were the major concern when visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Today, you're not only more likely to die by way of falling coconut, but also selfie'ing yourself right off the side of a dang cliff. While we encourage you to capture the beauty of your next trip to paradise, make sure your waterfall selfie isn't the last one you ever take.

Be like these guys and make peace signs safely instead of potentially ending up resting in peace.

Beware of flash flooding

In Hawaii, a relaxing swim at a remote waterfall can quickly turn into a scary encounter or close call with a surprise flash flood. Since heavy rainfall is common in certain areas of each island it’s wise to keep an eye on weather forecasts, and avoid long hikes along waterways if rainfall is likely. In the event of flash flooding, move to higher ground as quickly as possible, and contact emergency personnel for assisted evacuation.

Enjoy the experiences safely

Perhaps more than other island destinations, Hawaii is the place to push your adventurous side to new levels. This doesn't mean, however, you have to do so while putting yourself in danger. Paragliding off the side of the world's largest dormant volcano, outrigger canoeing with humpback whales, ziplining above lush valleys, helicoptering alongside the world's steepest sea cliffs, rappelling down waterfalls, windsurfing at one of the world's best windsurfing beaches, scuba diving with sharks, and many more opportunities exist with a proper guide. There's simply no need to attempt to set a new time record stand up paddle boarding between the islands. Know your limits.

While many of these warnings are good advice for any travel destination, Hawaii's powerful waves, wind and array of thrilling outdoor activities make it a particularly accident-prone vacation destination. Keep your island travel smarts about you, and have the vacation of a lifetime. Aloha!

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