As I get ready to take the family on another Hawaii hike tomorrow morning, I always review the safety tips  and then go online and research the hike and read reviews.  I want to know and be prepared. 

Hiking in Hawaii can be awesome!  There is something beautiful around every corner of a trail or over every rise.  There are beginner trails like the Waimea Falls hike and even very advanced hike that is only recommended for people who have a lot of hiking experience and training.

No matter what level you’re looking for (or even just a challenging stroll) Hawaii hiking trails can provide it.

Tips When Hiking in Hawaii


Research the Trail

You really need to know how long the trail is and the difficulty level.  I often let my daughters (20 and 19) choose the trail.  Sometimes they get ahead of themselves with the difficulty level.  Do your research and find out distance, difficulty, rest areas, parking and where the hike is.

Always let someone know where you’re going to be.

Even if you’re going with a group or your family, let someone who is not in that group that you’ll be hiking and which trail.  This is important and you shouldn’t wave this step off as unnecessary. You just never know.

Be mindful of the time of the day

Hawaii is near the equator and it gets dark fast.  When the sun starts to dip behind the horizon it goes away quickly.  Your vision will be severely depleted at this point and the hiking danger increases in the dark.

Don’t Hike in Heavy Rain

Trails get slippery and the chance of mudslides, though unlikely, will increase.

Narrow Trails


Again, many of Hawaii’s hiking trails are difficult and are high on mountains or hills with drop offs on either side of the trails.  Rain and wind can make this treacherous.

Falling Rock

Hiking with steep inclines or earth walls behind, in front or on either side of you can result in falling rock.  Stay alert.  Pay particular attention during and after heavy rain and near waterfalls.

Don’t Drink the Water!

Yes, lots of Hawaii hikes involved gorgeous water elements like streams, rivers, waterfalls and natural pools.  It may look gorgeous and clear but don’t drink the water unless you boil it.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause you to exhibit and feel the same symptoms as the flu.  It make take 2 weeks to start to feel the effects.

Heat Injury

It gets hot.  There’s lots of sun. You’re hiking and sweating.  Heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sun burn can easily occur.  Cover your skin with loose clothing AND sunscreen and always drink water as often as possible.  Ensure to hydrate well in the days prior to the hike.  If you feel feint or “too hot” at any point, seek shade and loosen binding clothing until you feel better or receive assistance.  Do yourself a favor and get a good water backpack, like a CamelBak or a Teton Sports Oasis



Yes, it’s still possible even in Hawaii’s tropical climate.  It gets cold on or near the top of mountains, especially Mauna Kea.

Hunters and Drugs

There are hunters near the land that hiking trails are on. Stay on the trail and wear bright clothing.  There have also been known to be marijuana fields in hiking land in Hawaii.  Stay on the trail and you if you encounter illegal drug fields leave immediately.

Take a Cell Phone!

You never know when you may need to use the 911 feature or contact loved ones.  Weather can come in quick and an ankle is an easy thing to injure.  There are even some really good Android an iOS apps that you can download in case there is an issue.

Have the Right Hiking Equipment!

Don’t go hiking in tank tops, sandals, flip flops etc.  Make sure that you are dressed appropriately.  Bring a camera, a backpack of water, small snacks, flashlight and first aid kit!  We have some items on our Hawaii Vacation Kit page that you may be interested in.