Is Honolulu Hawaii Safe For Tourists? Travel Safety Advice

By Anna

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If you’re visiting Hawaii anytime soon then the thing you’re probably most looking forward to is the relaxed way of living and of course, the spectacular beaches. But have you ever stopped to wonder is Honolulu safe?

In this article, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know about safety in Honolulu so you can keep yourselves safe whilst you’re out there on holiday.

So, let’s get straight to it and find out, is Honolulu safe?

Is Honolulu Safe Right Now?

Hula dancers in Hawaii
Photo credit: Kazuo ota via Unsplash

Honolulu is considered to be a very safe city on the state of Hawaii, so much so that in 2015, it was ranked as one of the safest cities in the USA. Although this is a safe place, just like any city in America or even the world, there are some crimes that go on behind the scenes including drug crime, homelessness, mugging and theft.

If you’re at the beach, then it’s important to stay safe whilst in the sea and not underestimate the power of the tides current. If you’re surfing, try not to go out too far as the sea can be extremely unpredictable.

Waikiki is a popular tourist area as it’s known for expensive hotels, a popular surf beach, designer shops, fine dining and Kuhio Beach hula shows. This area can get crowded during both the day and the evening with many people walking up and down the streets.

In Waikiki, you will find many street performers entertaining tourists and locals and trying to make some money. If you stop to look at the performers, then pickpockets and thieves are likely to strike at that moment.

How to Keep Valuables Safe:

Pickpockets and thieves are a medium risk in Honolulu so it’s important never to take bring any sort of valuables in your bag or leave it out of sight. The best thing to do is make sure that the zip is closed and if you have a backpack then never put anything in the front pocket as this is easily accessible for anybody to take things out.

Keep jewellery and expensive clothes and accessories to a minimum if you can when you’re out and about because if you’re wearing something that’s of high value, more than likely, thieves will think that you have valuables in your bag that are worth stealing.

Protect your money from pickpockets!

Keeping your money safe from theft and pickpockets is essential when traveling on the road.

A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.

Is Honolulu Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

solo female travel
Photo credit: Ana_J from Pixabay

Honolulu is considered a low-risk area for solo female travelers making it a safe place for women to travel to alone. Of course, just like in any area of the world, when traveling alone be cautious and use common sense when you need to.

Some of the main tourist areas include Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbour National Memorial and Ala Moana Center. If you’re in any of these places or other tourist areas, then go careful with your handbags and valuables and always keep an eye out for any suspicious activity such as theft as this is more likely to happen to solo travelers.

If you’ve rented a car whilst out in Honolulu, then take extra care when you’re in the areas of Diamond Head and the Halona Blowhole area near Sandy Beach. We mention this as car theft and break-ins are extremely common in these areas so be sure to double check the car is locked up and there are no valuables out on display as thieves can dismantle locks and even bash your window open to take something. Always take valuables out of the car and never leave them in the glove compartment because if somebody breaks in, they’ll definitely check this.

Dangerous Neighbourhoods in Honolulu:

Just like everywhere in the world, In Honolulu there are dangerous areas in which you should stay away from, especially during the evening when you’re a solo female traveler. Below are some areas to avoid on the island:

  • Chinatown – There can be extremely violent crimes during the evening.
  • Wahiawa – Wahiawa has a crime rate that is higher than 53% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes.
  • Waianae – Waianae is home to hardworking poor locals and there are many homeless people in the area.
  • Ewa – This neighbourhood poses a risk of property crime.

Is Honolulu Safe to Live?

Photo credit: Zetong Li via Unsplash

Honolulu is a safe place to live, but of course that doesn’t mean that crime doesn’t happen in the city. Property crime rates can be high in Honolulu, especially in the Waikiki area as it’s popular with tourists, hikers and considered to be a nice place to live in a good location.

As we previously mentioned, Chinatown, Wahiawa, Waianae and Ewa are considered to be Honolulu’s most dangerous neighbourhoods so if you’re thinking of moving to Honolulu, we wouldn’t recommend these areas.

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Asides from the dangerous areas you also have have posh, high-end areas with a better location and a good reputation. However, that isn’t to say that crime won’t happen in these places too. The ten most expensive areas which are considered the best to live in Honolulu are:

  • Wailea
  • Kailua (Honolulu County)
  • Urban Honolulu
  • Aiea
  •  East Honolulu
  • Aina Haina Beach
  • Kula
  • Laie
  • Kihei
  • Kaneohe

Although these are considered the best areas to live in, there’s still a chance of your property being broken into as you’re in a good location.

What if Someone Has Broken in?

Under Hawaiian state law, if an intruder has broken into your home, residents are allowed to use deadly force to defend themselves without fear of criminal prosecution but only if the intruder is inside the property and not outside.

This law should only be used in a serious situation as you may end up getting hurt yourself. There are ways of protecting the property that might stop someone from breaking in. To protect your house, put a high gate or a fence up around the house so nobody can jump over, keep your doors locked, close windows at night-time and set an alarm to alert you if you somebody is in the house.

Is Honolulu Safe at Night?

Mai tai
Photo credit: genielutz via Pixabay

Honolulu is safe at night, but you must stick to areas that have a lot of people around, including tourist areas to avoid getting yourself into any sort of trouble. Waikiki is considered to be safe, if you’re on your own or with a group of people.

What we would say is that even though Waikiki is safe to grab a drink or a bite to eat on your own, the best time to leave is around 9pm before big crowds start to arrive and people start to drink alcohol. Even if the hotel you’re staying at is five-minute walk from all of the action, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get a taxi or Uber back.

If you’re with a group of people, then there’s no need to rush back to the hotel if you all stick together as a group and don’t go wondering off. Waikiki has some great bars and restaurants so be sure to make the most of it. Even if you’re in a group, we would still suggest getting an Uber or taxi back to the hotel to stay safe – what’s great about this is that you can split the fare and it won’t cost an arm or a leg.

Waikiki at night time
Image by Klaus Dieter vom Wangenheim from Pixabay

What to Avoid at Night in Honolulu:

However safe Waikiki might be, Chinatown is a definite no no at night-time – particularly if you’re by yourself but also if you’re with a group. There are lots of beggars and homeless people in Chinatown in the evening and they can turn aggressive towards tourists who refuse to hand over money.

Although police patrol the streets in these areas, Downtown Honolulu should also be avoided at night-time as muggings and theft are common in this area. If you have been mugged, get in contact with the police as soon as possible.

And lastly an obvious tip but something we have to mention, don’t walk dark alleyways as there could be drug dealers or homeless people, never take money out of an unlit ATM machine and avoid areas that you’re unfamiliar with.

Is the Tap Water in Honolulu Safe to Drink?

Tap water
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According to the Board of Water supply (the company that manages Oahu’s municipal water resources and distribution system), the water in Honolulu is 100 percent safe to drink for locals and tourists visiting the island.

The water is some of the best quality around and is rainwater that is naturally filtered through underground porous volcanic rock for about 25 years before it reaches aquifers. If you’re unsure about this and would prefer and feel safer drinking water out of a bottle, then you might want to think again.

Menehune is the state’s biggest bottled water company which you’ll most likely see available to buy in the shops or at the hotel. Menehune’s bottled water is from the same aquifer as regular tap water but that it has been filtered in an eight-step reverse osmosis process that removes 99 percent of the water’s minerals.

So, unlike other countries, cities and islands in the world, in Hawaii bottled water is exactly the same as tap water, only you’re paying extra for it. If you’re still unsure, for peace of mind, each year the Board of Water Supply and the Department of Health conduct thousands of tests on drinking water as required for all states by the U.S. Environmental Protection Department. Kawata says by federal and state law, water cannot be served unless it is safe.

Want to save the planet?

Plastic pollution is covering the planet and is a tremendous threat to marine life. Do your part to help by traveling with a filter water bottle.

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A filter water bottle is an effective way of purifying water to remove any impurities or contaminants.

Does This Make the Water Okay for Cleaning and Food Prep etc?

As you know now, the water in Honolulu is safe to drink but you might be dubious about whether or not it’s okay for showering, washing your face or brushing your teeth? The answer to this question is yes! It’s absolutely safe to wash with the water in Honolulu.

You don’t need to worry about certain foods you can eat either including salad, fruit and ice as there is no trace of the water being contaminated.

Are Taxis in Honolulu Safe?

Photo credit: Dan Gold via Unsplash

Taxis are not only safe in Honolulu but also very reliable. In Honolulu you can choose from either getting a taxi or an Uber to take you around the city. However, if you’re in a rush and need a taxi then be warned that Honolulu has the highest taxi prices in the nation whilst Uber is 40 percent cheaper!

You can either pre-book or call a taxi down on the street as there are many that drive around the city. We suggest confirming a price before the taxi sets off as they’re not the cheapest of transportation in Honolulu and there is a chance of getting stuck in some serious traffic jams. Honolulu was ranked as the 18th most congested city in the U.S. and 111th in the world – so not quite as bad as some other cities.

Taxi drivers are usually very friendly and won’t overcharge or take you on the longest route throughout the city. When leaving the taxi, make sure you have all of your belongings with you as there is a chance if someone else gets in the taxi, they won’t mention your belongings are have been left in the back seat.

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Top 9 Honolulu Safety Tips:

small Honolulu island
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

You’re almost at the end of finishing this article and by now you should know what things are safe to do in Honolulu and what things aren’t. But we couldn’t let you go without giving out our top nine safety tips for when you jet off to the city of Honolulu.

  • Don’t take out any valuables that are of sentimental and high price value as there are lots of pickpockets and thieves in Honolulu, especially in the Waikiki area. If it’s essential to take them with you then make sure you have a bag that zips up properly and keep it with you at all times! Otherwise, keep your valuables at the hotel in the safe.
  • If you’re in the areas of Diamond Head and the Halona Blowhole area near Sandy Beach. Don’t forget to lock up the car, don’t leave valuables in there that are clearly visible for thieves and don’t leave anything in the glove compartment incase somebody does brake into the car.
  • Unless it’s the daytime, don’t visit Chinatown by yourself or even in a group as homeless people can become violent if you don’t give them any money.
  • If you’re on public transport, for example a train or a bus, keep your belongings close by and don’t leave anything on the floor as these are a pickpocket’s paradise, especially if they can tell if you’re a tourist or not.
  • Don’t use an ATM machine in an unlit or uncrowded area, especially if traveling solo. You will risk being mugged and even injured. Pay for everything via a card in reputable shops and only get cash unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • If traveling solo, then never walk back to the hotel or around Honolulu at night-time as there is a chance you will run into danger. Instead take a taxi – even if the journey is short, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Whether you’re residing in Honolulu or staying in a house for your holidays, make sure the windows are shut, doors are locked, and the alarm is set to stop any intruders from breaking in.
  • Pack plenty of sun cream and after sun particularly if you’re visiting Honolulu in the summer months (between May and October) as the temperature can reach at least 30 degrees Celsius!
  • Don’t share a taxi/Uber with somebody that you don’t know, even tourists. The chances of something bad happening are low but when in a different city, it’s best to keep safe and politely decline.

So, that’s the end of our article and we hope you’re now more comfortable with safety in Honolulu. If you’ve enjoyed the read, then please leave a comment in the box below and give us a ‘like’ on our Facebook page. If you’re unsure which is the better place to visit, then give the article below a read.

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers