Going on a hike in Hawaii? Follow these tips before heading out

Local News

A woman snaps a photograph from atop the Lanikai Pill Box trail, Dec. 26, 2011, in Lanikai, Hawaii. The trail is named for the pill-boxes, abandoned World War II era bunkers, along the trail. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii offers breathtaking sights at every corner of each island, from hidden waterfalls deep in the rainforests to hundreds of miles of sandy beaches. Popular landmarks include panoramic ocean views that can be seen at the top of most trails.

But before you hit the trails to get that Insta-worthy shot, be mindful of where you’re headed to avoid being rescued.

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View from Diamond Head looking towards Waikiki.

With summer travel already in full swing, visitors have been inundating the trails, oftentimes unaware of their personal fitness level experience, as well as being unprepared for weather and trail conditions. Remember, any trail can be difficult if you’re not ready for it.

In June, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) told KHON2 it responds with the Honolulu Fire Department on hiker rescue calls. Officials say recently many of the calls are for injuries that are not life-threatening.

Honolulu Fire Department rescue helicopter at Kaneohe District Park.

“Somebody may have a sprained ankle and they can’t get themselves out of the situation they’re in because of their injury, but it’s not life-threatening and it takes rescuers and the ambulances out of service when it could’ve been needed for something more serious like a heart attack,” said Honolulu EMS Chief Chris Sloman.

Chief Sloman says they want people to have fun but also be prepared. Do your research.

maunawili falls trail_144639
Maunawili Falls Trail was shut down by the state on July 15 and is expected to remain closed for two years. Click here for more info.

The HFD provided these following hiking safety tips:

  • Do your research. Prior to hiking, learn about the trail you intend to explore so you know the route, where to start and the degree of difficulty. When you get to the trail’s entrance, read and follow the signs that are posted. Be aware of restricted or closed trails.
  • Bring a cellphone. In case of an emergency your cell phone can be a lifesaver. Ensure that your battery is full prior to your hike. If you lose cell phone connection, get to higher ground to improve your reception.
  • Start early. Your rescue probabilities are way better during daylight hours than at night. Getting a late start increases the possibility of getting caught in the dark.
  • Know your turnaround time. Stick to it to allow enough time to return.
  • Stay on the trail, especially if you’re lost. Most accidents happen when hikers leave the established trail and disregard warning signs.
  • Call 911 as soon as you think you are in trouble. If you’re in the mountains, stay in the same area so the rescuers can find you based on your last known geo-location coordinates.
People hike Koko Crater Trail in Hawaii Kai. There are over 1,000 steps to reach the top of the ridge.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority lists their own hiking safety tips here:

  • Do not drink water from freshwater ponds or streams.
  • Avoid entering streams or ponds with open cuts.
  • Stick to the trail and follow trail markers to avoid getting lost.
  • Bring enough water, food and sunscreen (depending on length and intensity of hike)
  • Bring a light rain jacket and mosquito repellent (especially if you’re going into rainforests or valleys)
  • Wear light pants to keep cool or shorts (but beware that some trails have overgrown ferns that can scratch your legs)

And the most important tip of all: do not hike alone! But if you must, make sure to tell someone where you are going. By following these simple tips, your hike could be the peak of your travels.

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