How Safe Is Honolulu for Travel?

Updated On September 21, 2022
Honolulu, United States
Safety Index:
65
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
68
* Rated 68 / 100 based on 8 user reviews.

For a place that is supposed to be so tropically relaxing, just trying to understand Honolulu, Hawaii, can be confusing – if you let it.

While Honolulu is the largest “city” in Hawaii, it’s actually not a city at all.

It’s an approximate area called a city, for lack of a better word.

Honolulu is also a county.

The government and law enforcement oversee the “city” and county area.

For reference in this article, when we refer to Honolulu, it will be “city” specific.

5.8 million passengers arrive on the island chain through the Honolulu airport, a nearly 90% increase from the pandemic-ridden 2021.

Tourists are back, and there’s a lot to explore in this beachfront yet metropolitan location.

Honolulu is on the southern side of the island of O’ahu (oh-WAH-who), but that’s not the biggest island in Hawaii.

The island of Hawai’i (yes, Hawaii is also an island and a state encompassing all of the islands) is the largest and more often referred to as “The Big Island.”

The city holds stunning views of the sea from the insanely popular Waikiki Beach, the memorial of Pearl Harbor, and immersive Polynesian culture.

English is spoken here, as well as Hawaiian, and you’ll learn plenty of new phrases during your trip.

Warnings & Dangers in Honolulu

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

Despite the petty thefts in a resort destination like Hawaii, the overall risk is low. This only holds if visitors use smart safety measures and personal awareness. While crime rates are growing in certain categories, Forbes lists Honolulu as the second-safest city to visit in America.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

The Bus is the public transportation system in Honolulu (the city and county), and there are plenty of shuttle services. Mopeds and bicycles are available for rental. If you want a rental car, you need to book it well in advance since they sell out often. A valid driver's license from a foreign country can be legally used here for one year.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here, though just 2% of thefts in 2021 were pickpockets or purse snatchings. The elevated risk comes from the potential, since there are large crowds, distracted tourists, and many places where you might be tempted to leave your belongings out of plain sight.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Honolulu has great weather throughout the year, but there are risks of tsunamis, tropical storms, flooding, and volcano eruptions. Offshore weather can also cause dangerous wave conditions, even when the weather is nice in Honolulu.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

The robbery rate is almost twice the national average, and about half of all robberies happen in public places. You'll keep a low risk if you stay in well-lit areas, don't walk around after dark by yourself, and avoid drawing attention to any valuables.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM

Hawaii has already been the site of a horrible attack on Pearl Harbor, and it still sits in distant ocean waters at risk of attack. There is also an incredible Homeland Security and military presence here to protect the islands.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM

With more people returning to the island, there's going to be a medium risk someone will try to scam you when booking a trip. Avoid any third-party websites or trips that require you to watch videos in exchange for a discount. Don't give your credit card information to a business unless you've verified they are accredited with the Better Business Bureau. The safest way to book travel is to ask the Chamber of Commerce for verified agents who can help you plan the trip. Don't look for a cheap deal. Look for good value for what you get.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women should use a lot of caution when enjoying the nightlife in Hawaii. Try to go in pairs or groups, so you aren't out alone. Bars can get loud and boisterous, and patrons might be more aggressive than if they were at their neighborhood bars. Don't go into the wilderness, ocean, or mountains alone, either. There are manmade and natural dangers on the island, and you should study safety steps before you arrive.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: MEDIUM

You can search for the Consumer Confidence Water Quality Report using your hotel address on the Board of Water Supply website. There is an FAQ that goes through potential risks and concerns. It's not easy to find specific reports, so I can't detail any violations from 2021. Because of this lack of convenience when trying to find this critical information, there's medium risk. Your hotel should also have a copy of this report for you to review.

Safest Places to Visit in Honolulu

There are a lot of tourism websites for Hawaii, and some could be loaded with spam or scams.

To be sure you’re on the official tourism site of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visit gohawaii.com.

You’ll probably be tempted to make a dash for the beach, but don’t miss the other great things to see and do in Honolulu.

The Aloha Tower and surrounding marketplace are a great place to start.

Here you’ll be at a Hawaiian icon in front of the 184-foot tall tower and have plenty of restaurants around this harborfront market.

There are tour excursion locations here as well if you want to review the many options available.

NOTE: The Aloha Tower is also near the cruise terminal, so if you want to enjoy smaller crowds, go when there isn’t a cruise ship in port.

The Foster Botanical Garden is a perfect spot for those who want to experience the lush life of the island without going into the natural hazards of the wild.

The aromas of the flowers are almost as mesmerizing as the butterfly garden.

Grab a bird checklist so you can check them off as you go.

This smaller garden is a nice place for those who need a break from the downtown crowds.

The Discovery Center of Hawaii is a great place for the kids to blow off some steam while learning about Hawaiian culture and nature.

Exhibits walk children through everything from the art of picking a pineapple to learning about the importance of rainforests.

Visiting Pearl Harbor is an emotional experience.

There isn’t one museum here – you’ll get to walk through ships, museums, open-air spaces, and a visitor’s center.

Some of the attractions are free, while others have admission.

You can’t bring any bags or purses into Pearl Harbor, so only bring what you need in your pockets.

Waikiki Beach is about 15 minutes from downtown Honolulu.

There’s more here than just the beach, including the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.

Walk the Waikiki Historical Trail to learn about this beach’s history, which will make the experience all the more meaningful.

Please take a surfing lesson before you try your skills on the water if you haven’t surfed Hawaiian waters before.

Even surfing the Florida coastline is different than the waters off Waikiki Beach.

Get a panoramic view from Diamond Head State Monument with sweeping water views and the Honolulu skyline.

The hike to the summit is less than a mile, but it’s a rigorous hike.

The hike is worth it to get a view of the lighthouse and military bunkers at the top.

As of May 2022, you must have a reservation as a non-resident to park here.

Places to Avoid in Honolulu

Chinatown is known for being a dangerous neighborhood, but there are also unique things to see and do there.

It’s best to visit during the day and don’t go alone.

Avoid going to any city or portion of the island that isn’t a tourist region.

Not every small island city is happy to see visitors, and you could stumble into a dangerous or crime-ridden community.

Ask the concierge or front desk at your hotel about the crime trends and neighborhoods to avoid, as they will know the latest information about crime sprees or concerns.

When looking at a map, Sand Island looks like a nice getaway just across the water from downtown Honolulu.

While I’m not telling you to avoid it, you should know you’ll drive through a large industrial area and by the water treatment plant before you get to Sand Island National Recreation Center.

This isn’t going to be a stunning beach with incredible views like some other more popular beaches.

However, since it’s not as popular, this is a great place to go to the beach without large crowds.

Just don’t expect too much from it.

You can camp here on weekends.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Honolulu

  1. The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) offers crime mapping technology that is updated daily on its website. You can search for various crimes around different neighborhoods and select the time range, whether you want to see the past week or the past year.
  2. Hawaii has pretty strict rules about the types of knives you can and can’t carry on the islands. HPD bans carrying or keeping the following weapons in a vehicle or on your person; dirk, dagger, blackjack, slug shot, billy, and metal knuckles. Butterfly knives and switchblades are also banned. You can be arrested just for carrying one of these around, either openly or in your pocket.
  3. Anyone over 16 years of age is required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Never ride against the flow of traffic and follow all the traffic laws required of a vehicle. You must also stop for pedestrians when you are on a bicycle.
  4. For pedestrians, look up the Walk Wise Hawaii program through the Hawaiian government’s website. You’ll learn all the safety steps required of people walking around. Jaywalkers are not given the same legal protection as those who use crosswalks. People caught jaywalking can be fined $100 or more.
  5. Hawaii has the highest rates of homelessness in all of America. You’ll see homeless people on the streets or setting up tents on beaches. Avoid groups of homeless people and opt to donate to a homeless shelter instead of an individual.
  6. Many hotels in Honolulu are at or near the beach. Double check you have locked all windows and sliding doors when you leave your room. For extra safety, put any valuables in the room’s safe.
  7. When you go to one of the parks or wilderness areas, don’t park and then stash a bunch of stuff in your trunk. Thieves could be watching for you to do just that and then break into the trunk once you’re climbing a mountain. Make the item transfer before you arrive, or better yet, don’t bring anything you can’t carry with you.
  8. You’ll get sick of hearing this in Hawaii, but it’s worth repeating – never turn your back on the ocean. Even something as simple as setting up a selfie could leave you waterlogged or washed out into the water. The waves here are not predictable.
  9. Always read the signs at any beach. Calm waters can be deceiving, and a shallow ocean floor or box jellyfish can cause serious injuries. Don’t take the warning signs as suggestions. Heed the warnings.
  10. GoHawaii has an app with a full list of tourist attractions, how to get around transportation options, and safety advice for any part of the city, county, and state.

So... How Safe Is Honolulu Really?

With violent crime rising in the United States, Honolulu is staying safer than most tourist communities.

The challenge here is, I don’t want you to think it’s a super safe place to visit with a bunch of friendly people always willing to help.

About half of the 20,000 thefts in 2021 were car break-ins.

All the violent crime rates were up in 2021 except for forcible rape, which was the lowest it has been since 2018.

The crime numbers provided by the Honolulu Police Department cover the entire island of Oahu, so Honolulu’s crime rates aren’t exactly in line with the department’s information.

That’s one reason I suggest you check out the crime mapping technology so you can get a better look at specific crimes in the places you want to visit.

The rugged terrain of Hawaii is also risky.

Sure, if you’re a seasoned outdoor person, you’ll be more prepared, but too many people push themselves beyond their limits for a “once in a lifetime” trip.

The hikes can be very rugged and steep.

Trails aren’t paved in most cases and mosquitos are everywhere.

Always listen to a tour guide about dangers, especially around active volcanoes where the hot earth or nearby lava can easily melt sandals and fashionable tennis shoes.

The ocean is a whole other beast here too.

It is strongly recommended you never go into the ocean water alone, not even just for an ankle-deep walk on the beach.

Don’t go to the beaches at night, either.

The lack of lighting, homeless population, and shady characters hanging out there are too risky.

With Hawaii having such a large port, this is also where a lot of illegal drugs come in.

Don’t buy illegal drugs here (well, or anywhere) because there’s an overdose crisis happening across America.

Drugs made to look like prescription drugs are laced with deadly doses of Fentanyl.

You don’t know the dangerous drug is in a pill and you could easily overdose.

You also can’t use marijuana here recreationally, but if you are caught with less than three grams, you won’t be arrested or face a fine.

Hawaii is a safe place to visit if you use the proper safety precautions and study all the risks.

How Does Honolulu Compare?

CitySafety Index
Honolulu65
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Washington DC56
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

While it should go without saying - if you are an American you don't need a passport or visa because this is a state. (You'd be surprised how many people get that wrong!) Visitors from outside the United States need a travel or work visa to visit. You can also see if you live in one of the countries where travelers can get a visa waiver (ESTA). Check out the U.S. State Department website for in-depth information.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Don't bring cash, and never use a public ATM machine. Try to pay for everything on the same credit card so you can monitor for fraud charges. If you insist on having cash, don't put it all in one place. Some of the independent markets could see you are carrying a wad of $20 as you pay a nearby vendor, and suddenly everything at their booth is $20.

Weather

Weather

Temperatures in Hawaii don't fluctuate much throughout the year or the days. You can expect the high and low to only be about 10°(F) apart. Even winter here has average temperatures near 80°(F). Hawaiian shirts, shorts, sun dresses, tank tops, sturdy hiking boots, and walking shoes are just fine. You must bring reef-safe sunscreen to Hawaii or purchase it locally. Check your sunscreen for the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Both of those chemicals are banned.

Airports

Airports

The Honolulu airport, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, is 15 minutes from downtown and 30 minutes from Waikiki Beach, but plan more time during periods of higher traffic volume.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Healthcare for accidents or injuries can be costly here, so make sure you have health insurance that covers any mishaps or emergency room visits. You'll want to have insurance for your flights and hotel room in case of any weather delays or technical issues.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Honolulu Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 23° C
Feb 23° C
Mar 24° C
Apr 24° C
May 25° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 27° C
Oct 26° C
Nov 25° C
Dec 24° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
272728282930313131302928
Low
°C
181819202122232323222119
High
°F
818182828486888888868482
Low
°F
646466687072737373727066

Hawaii - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Hilo65
Honolulu65
Kailua-Kona84
Lanai City89
Maui91
Princeville88

Where to Next?

8 Reviews on Honolulu

  1. A
    Aloha Daisy says:

    Obviously the tourist industry doesn’t want you to know how bad theft is in Hawaii. Warning don’t ever leave your car at the airport overnight parking. Multiple cars per day are being stolen. My daughters car last week and a friends car this week. Officers actually said it happens all the time. Follow Stolen Stuff Hawaii on facebook if you want to get a taste of what normal life is like in paradise. I live here and I would advise spend your money on vacation somewhere else. thieves break into lockers cars anything you leave laying around. Also late night robberies happen in Waikiki every single day. they beat the crap out of you and take everything you have. Rethink Paradise!

    1. A
      ALOHA808 says:

      Live Aloha

      Aloha!!

      The person who wrote the last review. If it’s that bad and that unsafe then why do you live in Hawaii?

      Hawaii is a beautiful place with beautiful people. Honolulu is a big city with Waikiki being the major destination and just like in any major city you need to be a vigilante. I also live in Hawaii and for the parking, at the airport, I’ve left my truck there for over a week at a time and never had a problem. If one likes the fast pace of the city then Honolulu is perfect there are lots to do and see.

      If a slower pace is what you looking then the outer islands Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii the “Big Island” each island is unique with a lot to offer and lots of Aloha!! It’s not that long ago when sugar and pineapple were a major industry on the islands and now that its gone tourism and the military are the driving force for Hawaii’s economy.

      A lot of people depend on tourism in one way or another.

      So “Shame on you!!” for righting a review that’s not true!!! Hawaii is called the Aloha State for a reason, its people and the aloha spirit that they live.

      1. Amazing Place

        Aloha! I, also, live in Hawaii, and I love my home. It is a beautiful state with beautiful people! There is theft and violence everywhere you go. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, but Hawaii is a beautiful place to live. Amazing sea life, beautiful landscape and absolutely beautiful people. Mahalo!

  2. Extremely Unsafe. CAUTION

    Definitely NOT SAFE. We have traveled all around the globe and country and this by far is the most unsafe place and unpleasant experience we have ever had. Anything that is seen in the cars will be broken into and taken away. The streets are also not safe late evening. It is so sad..

  3. I
    I spend six months/yr in in islands says:

    I’ve had the same experience (thievery and break ins). Many of the native islanders dislike mainlanders, and make them crime targets.

    Oahu is the problem, and specifically Honolulu. Other islands are much nicer.

  4. M
    Missing the aloha says:

    I flipping love hawaii

    What’s wrong with downtown Hawaii reviewer

    I am so jealous of you the only thing I noticed bad about Hawaii is some of the shop can be pushy to make a sale other than that I FREAKING LOVE HAWAII I hope to be back soon

  5. A
    Anica Ramsey says:

    One of the best

    I love Hawaii! It’s one of the great destinations for me to travel since my cousins are living there, I get to see all the wonderful places and beaches around it.

  6. m
    miyuki k. says:

    living in HNL: DONT DO IT 💀

    you probably saw the title and wondered why not live there if the people seem nice enough and it doesnt seem like a total disaster?
    well, to put it lightly, you only saw the facade everyone had to uphold to survive in that place, because it gets messier if you stay longer and longer. everything is from what i have witnessed and experienced by being born to a family whos been here for at least 60 years and growing up here, and its really the equivalent of ariana grande (serial homewrecker and cheater) of the state. this basically means it’s severely overhyped, overrated and not even worth a percent of it due to how terrible the place actually is, as a tldr as the rant is LONGGGG.

    there isn’t really much about this place that is worth a $10 jug of milk, which was also the type of issue that caused iam tongi to leave. the issues factored include pretty much every aspect in the city, especially factors such as messy and inconsistent governance in general, a horrible local culture, and other links to safety concerns all being pretty bad here.
    firstly, the governance is abysmal, because why would they pass laws that don’t do enough for serious issues such as a growing drug epidemic, or ethically controlling the population of stray cats and STILL reward themselves by giving themselves a 63% raise, all while leaving crumbs for other public services who needs the money more than they do such as education? furthermore, there is a long track record of corruption being a core fundament in each and every crevice of the local government. drug lords, corrupt businessmen, conglomerates, yep, all of them have ties to government officials. in fact, it’s gotten so bad that the FBI had to start a full-fledged investigation nearly a year ago, and from the looks of it, the prognosis of Honolulu’s governance especially won’t come out pretty. furthermore, there has been NUMEROUS incidences of unpunished police brutality, such as the police getting away with domestic abuse, killing someone equipped with a butter knife, and more, which have an awful lot to do with the government never doing enough for its people and constantly failing them by neglecting public services they should be keeping tabs on. this isn’t even anywhere near the end of how terrible the government’s negligence and misuse of public services has really boned over Honolulu as a whole, as the entirety of the monorail spanning not even half the island has hogged up tens of billions of dollars, which is already a huge chunk of the state’s GDP, which even caused federal government money to be funnelled into this underdeveloped mess of a project. however, these examples would probably only serve to be at the top of the iceberg of all the disorganized events involving local government, which as unfortunate as it is, means that if you are prompted for bribery, you might be powerless to fight back, regardless of if you live elsewhere or here.
    however, people think that when a local government is awful, the people in it are usually really nice. nope! the culture and society itself in Honolulu is no better than politicians and public service who represent it, as issues like racism, xenophobia and straight up abuse is really normalised there, to briefly sum it up. people in this city really hate people that don’t look like them, the amount of times I’ve been called awful things in school is unbelievable, even being called coronavirus at some point before the pandemic got really bad. however, this isn’t even the only instance of racism and xenophobia being normalised that i know of, as i’ve heard people throw out vile stereotypes and insults to others for existing, with podagee and haole being racial insults i’ve heard only in the state, and even moreso in the city, both used as if it were some kind of slur, and used much like other slurs heard worldwide that are also heard a lot here. furthermore, when someone has an accent or don’t speak their local slang, some people will get really lost with what you say, or even glare in disgust as if you were born dangling upside down or something. if you have a different license plate when driving, some people will look at you in either thinly veiled shock or disgust, which while it does have a deeper root, does reflect the unfriendliness that looms beneath all the customer service levels of facade. people who live in Honolulu don’t just hate white people, they also hate themselves and each other, as there’s been several cases of negligent homicide that emerged within the past few years because the folks in the system don’t do anything, and because of how normalised neglect is. if you attempt to report or do anything about incidents of abuse, regardless of if you’re living here or visiting, there is a very low chance it’ll ever be made or even taken seriously, because you’ll often be discouraged from doing so before you can even file it. in fact, even if people aren’t perpetrating it, they’ll still be an example of why Honolulu is a societal disaster somehow. the wear and tear of this toxic culture has caused the place to wear its longstanding residents out especially, with severe insomnia being normalised, stress typically being insanely high and only increasing with each passing generation due to the culture, and rapidly being priced out of home, which will cause the cycle of normalised discrimination and abuse to manifest in some way shape or form again.
    this mostly pertains to issues that a lot of other reviews haven’t discussed, as they heavily discussed issues such as theft and other external crime before. however, I’d like to briefly chip in with my issues with crime and the linked lack of safety here, too. the lack of safety is even worse at the bigger malls, and I would know because I do work in one of the stores for one of the malls. at my job, I saw a crazy homeless person try to stab and kill the security guard when he tried to stop the former from shoplifting. everyone stood and stared in shock as the words “he has a knife!” could be heard before nearly witnessing such a deeply traumatising incident. furthermore, people’s things constantly gets stolen because of other crazy people, which I have seen at my job, too, as someone spilled soda all over the counter and stole a sandwhich from a customer in rapidfire succession. though, it seems I’ll never escape these incidents even at home as I keep seeing homeless people hanging out across the street from my house, and sometimes, when I try to sleep at home, I’m kept awake by car alarms in my area because someone either attempted to break into them, or even stealing it. even when I try to relax, I still see these safety concerns with homeless people maiming others in a neighbourhood I walk to, which as safe as it should’ve been is really overrun by psycho homeless people too. what all this information means for you is that don’t expect anything to be sacred here, and when I say that I really mean ANYTHING. I mean this sincerely because people are genuinely nuts here from all the mistreatment they had to endure, and sometimes, intervening is gonna cost you your money, a bruise, wound or your life.
    so why is the review not one star? because as much of a mess it is, it could still be worse but it has a VERY long way to go to be living up to its hype to even half its extent. as much as i had hope for this place, unfortunately, i fear it’ll be a lost cause because it seems to shun itself from unanimous, long-lasting improvements with each passing day.

Honolulu Rated 3.38 / 5 based on 8 user reviews.

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