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Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Banzai PipelineA visit to the beach is an integral part of any Hawaiian vacation and thanks to state law, each and every one of our beaches is accessible to the public. Hawaii is home to hundreds of beautiful beaches and between body-boarding, surfing, swimming and snorkelling, there is no shortage of activities to keep you occupied during a day at the beach.

The ocean can be unpredictable with safety conditions changing in an instant depending on wind and surf. While we recommend you avoid beaches that are unmanned by lifeguards, we’ve dedicated today’s post to providing a brief description of some of the warning signs you’ll find posted on Hawaii beaches.

Warning - Strong CurrentThe strong current signs mean that the channels of water moving through the area are doing so at a very rapid pace.  Strong currents are usually present in more turbulent areas where you find waves breaking. Although less common, you may find this sign present in seemingly calm waters.

Warning - Jellyfish

This one is fairly explanatory. Jellyfish stings can be painful and in some cases, quite dangerous. Although there is always a chance they will appear near to the shore, you are certain to find them close by approximately ten days after a full moon.

Warning - High Surf

The high surf warning is to alert you to the area’s potential for large waves which can easily cause injury to your neck and back, or knock you down and drag you back in to the ocean. South facing shores in Hawaii tend to experience high surfs in the summer months while north, east and west facing shores typically experience large waves in the winter.

Warning - Sudden Drop OffHawaii is made up of varying terrains and our land below the surface of the water is no different. When you see the sudden drop-off warning sign, be aware that as opposed to a gradual decline, this particular area has a shelf or a drop-off that occurs rather suddenly.

Warning - Slippery Rocks

Most of the rock along our shoreline is covered in algae and moss which can be slippery. Exercise extreme caution when walking along these areas especially if you notice powerful waves in the area.

Warning - Sharp CoralHawaii is known for its vast coral reef and much of it can be found fairly close to the shoreline. Because coral can be sharp and cause serious injury it is recommended that swimmers wear water shoes in areas where these warning signs are posted.

Warning - Rip CurrentA rip current can be extremely dangerous. These are strong, rapidly moving channels of water that are flowing through the surf line back out towards the ocean. Rip currents are more powerful than the strongest of swimmers and anyone caught in a rip current should avoid trying to swim back to shore against the rip. Instead, it is recommended that swimmers remain calm and swim diagonally across the rip current instead of against it.


Warning - Dangerous Shorebreak

The dangerous break warning signs are to alert you to the fact that the waves in this particular area break directly on the shore instead of just ahead. Much like high surf, dangerous shore breaks can result in injuries to the neck and back, and are particularly dangerous for small children playing by the shoreline.

Warning - Shark SightedThis is another self explanatory warning sign. Although shark attacks are extremely rare in Hawaii, they have been known to swim in towards the shore. These signs are posted when a shark sighting has been confirmed and in the interests of your own safety it is imperative that you take heed and avoid going in to the water in areas where these are posted.

The ocean is powerful and unpredictable which is why the state takes the time to alert visitors to the various conditions on Hawaii`s beaches. Paying attention to the warnings posted will ensure that your Hawaii vacation is both fun AND safe.