Maui is known for its beautiful natural environment and easy-going lifestyle. However, things don’t always go as planned when vacationing in a place you are not familiar with. Having some advance knowledge can avoid problems and make for a happier stay. Keep these safety tips in mind when exploring Maui’s natural wonders.
Ocean and Water Safety Tips
You’ll likely spend plenty of time on Maui’s beautiful beaches during your vacation. The warm, inviting water is also very powerful, so remember to use a bit of common sense when enjoying the ocean. First, never turn your back on the ocean. Ocean wave action changes continually. You might see gently lapping waves, but not expect a much larger rogue wave that can knock you down. Similarly, if viewing the ocean from rocks or overhangs, always stay well away, where the ground is dry. Also, never swim alone and only swim at lifeguard-protected beaches. Water conditions vary according to season and location so heed warning signs. If you get stuck in a strong current, stay calm and wave for assistance. The rule of thumb here is, ‘If in doubt, don’t go out.’
Sun Protection and New Sunscreen Rules
Hawaii’s proximity to the equator and the intensity of UV rays in the islands make sun protection particularly important. Without adequate protection, you may sunburn easier here, and severely damage your skin, increasing the risk of developing melanoma. So even though it’s tempting to spend several hours lounging on a Maui beach or out on a boat, make sure you are adequately protected with sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher.
New legislation has banned the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate from all sunscreen in Hawaii, as these elements have been found to be damaging to ocean reefs. Look for options without these ingredients (often labeled “reef safe”).
Physical sun barriers are actually the best protection. Consider a wide brimmed hat or pick up a pair of polarized sunglasses at the original Maui Jim store on Maui. If you want to further protect the reef and your skin, consider making a donation to Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, and pick up an amazing, quick-dry, sun blocking shirt. The organization envisions healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water and abundant native fish, and is one of the most respected nonprofits on the island.
Coral Reefs and Jellyfish Safety Tips
What some visitors think are rocks beneath the surface of the ocean are actually corals. A living organism, corals can cause cuts and abrasions that can become easily infected.
Corals are also fragile- so we want to avoid breaking pieces off. These foundations of the reef provide a home for a plethora of other sea creature, as well as preventing beach erosion. Find a sandy place to stand when in the ocean, or float on the surface.
Jellyfish can be ethereal and mesmerizing to watch on display at Maui Ocean Center. However, encountering one while swimming or snorkeling can be an unpleasant experience. These creatures can pack a nasty sting that can be very painful, or even dangerous to those who have allergies. Jellies are more prevalent about a week after a full moon, when tides carry jellyfish closer to shore. Look for an advisory sign at the beach, and watch for jelly fish that may have washed up on the sand.
If you do get stung, don’t scratch the wound site, and don’t rinse with fresh water, which will make the pain worse. Rinse with seawater. A rinse with vinegar, or a paste made with baking soda and saltwater, and taking on over-the-counter analgesic like Benedryl will help relieve symptoms. Jellyfish stings will usually subside within 24-48 hours.
By the way, the remedy of peeing on a jellyfish wound is a myth, and can make the pain even worse, not to mention the grossness factor!
Personal Safety Tips
Maui is much safer than other places in the United States when it comes to violent crime. However, we do have relatively high property crime rates. So, it’s important to not leave valuables in your rental car, even in the trunk. Rental cars are pretty easy to identify and are often targeted by local criminals. Keep your valuables locked in your hotel room safe and always keep an eye on your valuables when at the beach.
It’s best to leave valuable jewelry, watches and other expensive items at home- we are pretty casual here, and you don’t need to be dripping in diamonds. Don’t carry large amounts of cash and divide your money and credit cards between two adults- if one person loses their wallet, you still have cash and credit cards to continue your trip.
Before leaving home, make sure and create an updated list of any bank and credit cards you plan to bring in your wallet in case they need to be cancelled. If you are bringing devices- cell phone, tablet, laptop- make sure and turn on location features so the device can be tracked if lost or stollen.
Even during the fun and relaxation of vacations, unfortunate events can happen. If you experience any adversity such as an accident, medical emergency, or serious illness or become a victim of a crime and have a police report, please call the Visitor Bureau. They may be able to assist.
Maui Visitors Bureau (Maui County)