How to stay safe on Hawaii’s beaches

By Scott Laird, TravelPulse

Beachgoing is perhaps the most popular activity among tourists in the Aloha State. The Hawaiian archipelago is noted for beaches of all shapes and colors — from the uniform sugar sand of Ka’anapali Beach on Maui to the black or sometimes green sand beaches of the Island of Hawaii to the world-famous high-rise hotel fronted Waikiki on O’ahu.

In spite of their diversity, Hawaii beaches have two things in common: they’re all public property (there’s no such thing as a “private beach” here), and they all require vigilance to be enjoyed safely.

Read on for more tips on staying safe on Hawaii beaches.

Check conditions first

Although Hawaii is often promoted as an idyllic paradise, beach conditions aren’t always optimal. updates conditions at Hawaii beaches so visitors can check warnings before heading out. Upon reaching the beach, many have flags posted indicating hazards. Red flags indicate the conditions are dangerous; two red flags indicate the water is closed to swimmers. Purple flags indicate the presence of dangerous marine life like jellyfish or sharks.

Hawaiian beaches also have signage warning of specific hazards. Always obey No Swimming and No Diving signs. Other signs indicate presence of Dangerous Shorebreaks (where waves break onshore), Strong Current, or High Surf. When these hazard signs are present, visitors should refrain from swimming unless they have local, expert knowledge of the conditions.

Many Hawaii beach parks have lifeguard service from sunup until just before sunset. Lifeguards will make announcements when the stations open and close, and give updates about hazardous conditions throughout the day. They also keep vigilant watch on specific swimmers, calling out those who are engaging in risky behavior.

Lifeguards can also provide basic first aid for swimmers who have received cuts or scratches on coral (swimmers should always avoid touching coral either with body parts or snorkel equipment like fins).

Only experienced swimmers intimately familiar with ocean conditions (i.e. locals) should attempt to swim outside periods of lifeguard service, or at unguarded beaches. Visitors should understand that locals are experts in ocean conditions, and should not follow their lead into the waters off unguarded beaches.

Practice sun safety

The ocean isn’t the only hazard to beachgoers on Hawaii beaches. Sunlight is also stronger at these latitudes than many visitors are accustomed. Visitors should liberally apply reef safe sunscreen with an SPF factor of 50 or higher before spending significant time in direct sunlight. Wearing bathing suits and rash guards with an SPF factor while swimming can also limit the amount of sunscreen that goes into the ocean, and provide added protection when sunbathing.

The sun’s rays are at their most intense between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. or thereabouts, so be sure to seek shade during the midday hours. Hats are also essential when sitting outside the shade.

Know your limits

Many swimmers needing rescue aren’t familiar with ocean conditions, are caught unaware by rapid changes to conditions, or are attempting to swim above their ability. Because most visitors aren’t …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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