Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is also one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations. Most of Oahu’s approximately 500,000 monthly visitors pass through the city.
Honolulu has plenty to see and do for visitors. The city is home to famous Waikiki Beach and the fun neighborhood surrounding it, with restaurants, shopping, and entertainment galore.
If you want to take a break from the hedonism, take in some history at the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial or the Iolani Palace.
Although it is a big city, Honolulu is also surrounded by beautiful nature, which you can take in by hiking Diamond Head or any of the other nearby trails. Honolulu is a beautiful city, but it is still a big city just like any other in the United States.
That means that it has many problems you might encounter in other cities, such as crime. But don’t worry — our travel experts have rounded up all the important information you need to know.
If you want to travel to Honolulu, make sure you are taking the right precautions to help you stay safe. Below, you’ll find everything to know to help you stay safe in Honolulu. Let us be your guide!
Is Honolulu Safe to Visit in 2023?
Honolulu may be a big city, but it is very safe to visit. The crime rate is low, and if visitors ever experience crime, it is usually petty in nature.
While violent crime does occur in Honolulu, usually violent crime incidents are confined to certain neighborhoods that should be easy to avoid as a tourist. Honolulu is actually one of the safest cities of its size in the United States.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Honolulu has a crime rate of 246.9 incidents per 100,000 people. This crime rate is lower than the national average for cities of Honolulu’s size.
In even more comforting news, the violent crime rate for Honolulu has always been far below the national average. The violent crime rate, already low, has steadily declined over the past few years.
However, according to Neighborhood Scout, the property crime rate in Honolulu is above the national median. The property crime rate in Honolulu is 31.9 incidents per 1,000 residents, while the national median is 19 incidents per 1,000 residents.
Common crimes you might encounter in Honolulu include:
- Bag snatching
- Tourist scams
- Vehicle break-ins
- Residential break-ins
- Verbal harassment
As you can see, most of the most common crimes you can encounter in Honolulu are petty property crimes. While tourists have been victims of violent crimes in the past, these incidents are very rare.
Honolulu does experience violent crimes, like any city, but most of those are confined to neighborhoods where tourists don’t really go. In terms of natural disasters, Honolulu is a fairly safe location in Hawaii.
According to the city government, the most common hazards in Honolulu are tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods, which makes sense for a tropical city close to the ocean.
Follow weather reports carefully and obey any government alerts that get issued while you are in town. Many visitors to Honolulu worry about volcanoes as Hawaii is the most volcanically active state in the United States.
However, most of Hawaii’s volcanoes are located on the Big Island of Hawaii, not Oahu (the island which contains Honolulu).
Honolulu may experience minor earthquakes and clouds of volcanic material when there is an eruption on neighboring islands, but you are not in direct danger of volcanic eruptions.
Crime in Honolulu
Crime is the primary concern for most people going to new places, including Honolulu. A look at the city’s crime statistics can help put your mind at ease.
The Honolulu police department published a breakdown of crimes they recorded in their city for the year 2022 in an annual report. There were 26,451 total crimes recorded in Honolulu in 2022.
91.2% of those were property crimes, while only 8.1% were violent crimes. Violent crimes made up only a small fraction of the total crimes committed in 2022.
The most common violent crime is aggravated assault, which makes up 54.2% of total violent crimes committed in Honolulu. Robbery is the next most common violent crime, at 33.5%.
Property crime totals for Honolulu are much higher and make up most of the crimes committed in the city. By far the most common form of property crime is larceny-theft, which makes up about 73% of total property crimes.
Honolulu experiences thousands of burglaries and motor vehicle thefts each year. The Honolulu police department also offers a breakdown of types of larceny theft, which is a very broad category of crime.
The most common type of larceny theft is theft from motor vehicles, of which the police recorded 5,152 incidents. Theft of motor vehicle accessories is also a common crime, as is shoplifting.
Honolulu’s property crime rate is much higher than the national average. In fact, the property crime rate in all of Hawaii is higher than the national average and has been since the FBI began collecting these statistics.
According to a Department of Justice investigation, Honolulu’s status as a tourist destination has a lot to do with this discrepancy.
Tourists are often targeted for property crimes since they are seen as lucrative, easy targets. Since the city receives a lot of tourists, crimes against tourists drive up the overall crime rate.
What this means for you as a visitor is that you should be careful of your possessions when you visit Hawaii’s capital. Pickpocketing and other forms of petty theft are likely, even in neighborhoods that might feel “safe.”
However, violent crimes are rarely a problem that you will have to worry about in Honolulu, unless you really throw all precautions to the wind.
Petty theft and street crimes are some of the most common incidents that you will encounter in Honolulu. Incidents such as pickpocketing and bag snatching don’t occur constantly, but they occur with enough frequency that you should be alert to your surroundings.
Tourists are often targeted for petty theft, so it’s a good idea to be alert as you move around. Don’t try to blend in with the locals as you probably will only stick out further.
Instead, focus on keeping control of your valuables, especially in touristy areas such as Waikiki. The Honolulu police department offers helpful safety tips for avoiding crime on its website.
Basic precautions help deter most pickpockets and bag thieves. Try to carry your bag close to you as you walk around, instead of letting it swing freely. Put wallets in front pockets or bags instead of back pants pockets.
A common mistake most tourists make is leaving items unattended. Never let your bag hang off the back of a chair at a restaurant or café, especially on an open-air terrace or when you’re sitting near the door.
Never leave your things on the beach, including Waikiki Beach, while you go swimming. Thieves sometimes wait and rifle through unattended bags. Designate one person in your group to watch your things while others swim.
Theft incidents increase after dark and can sometimes escalate into more violent muggings or robberies. Certain parts of Honolulu where you might wander during the day, such as Chinatown, are less safe after dark.
If you decide to check out Honolulu’s nightlife, try to move around with a group so that you can keep each other safe from potential thieves in the bars and nightclubs.
Theft from vehicles is actually the most common type of larceny-theft recorded by the Honolulu police department.
While most tourists don’t have to worry about this form of theft since you can’t bring a car to Hawaii, if you decide to rent a car to explore Oahu, you should be aware of the risks.
This is especially true since criminals often target rental cars that they know belong to tourists. The Honolulu police department also offers advice for how to cope with theft from vehicles.
The number one precaution you should take is not leaving valuables in your car. That way even if someone does break in, they don’t actually take something that matters.
Even if you don’t have valuables in your car, you can never imagine what might be attractive to a thief. Be careful not to leave anything out in the open in your car and put all items such as loose change into a glove compartment or the trunk.
If you decide to go shopping, try to go straight back to your accommodation with your bags. If you have to leave your items in your car, put them in the trunk and make sure they are not visible from outside. When you put your items away, make sure nobody is watching you.
Make sure that you lock your car doors and roll up the windows to make it harder for someone to enter your car.
A determined thief might still break a window, but that is harder to do and harder to get away with if you are parked in a busy location. Of course, if you don’t rent a car, you don’t have to worry about this crime at all.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Like any big city, Honolulu has some areas that are a bit rough around the edges. Some neighborhoods are safe to visit during the day but not as safe at night. Downtown and Chinatown get a bit rough around the edges at night, so go with a group or avoid them.
The area around Daniel K. Inouye Airport has a high crime rate. Be careful when you arrive or depart as thieves and robbers often target tourists at the airport. Only take a reputable taxi from an official taxi company.
Some Honolulu neighborhoods with high crime rates include Waianae, Kuhio Park Terrace, Kalihi, and Waimanalo. These are far away from beaches and most tourist attractions anyway.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for Honolulu:
- Be respectful of locals. Honolulu is a vacation destination for many, but it is also home to thousands of people. Remember that you are coexisting with locals. Don’t take photos without permission or be disrespectful of the city by littering. Some Hawaiians are against tourism, so keep that in mind if you encounter some unfriendly attitudes.
- Be prepared for the heat. The weather in Hawaii is no joke. Make sure that you stay hydrated and slather on plenty of (reef-safe) sunscreen.
- Hotel room break-ins sometimes happen. Make sure that you lock your doors and close windows and balconies before you leave your hotel room.
- Women sometimes need to take extra precautions. Never leave your drink unattended in local bars and nightclubs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions tourists to Honolulu might want to answer:
Is Honolulu safe to walk around at night?
The answer depends on which parts of Honolulu you are exploring. Some neighborhoods such as Waikiki are safe even at night. Others, such as Downtown, Chinatown, and even parts of Ala Moana, are sketchier after dark. Ask a local for advice and trust your instincts — stick to well-lit areas with plenty of other tourists.
Is it safe to walk alone in Honolulu?
During the day, it is safe to walk alone in Honolulu. However, stick to a group or at least one other person after dark unless you are in extremely well-trafficked, safe areas.
How safe is Hawaii for tourists?
All of Hawaii is very safe for tourists. Honolulu as the capital of the state is no different.
Is it safe to swim in Waikiki?
Swimming in Waikiki Beach is a popular activity for tourists, and mostly safe since it is well-patrolled by lifeguards. However, the ocean still has powerful waves, so take precautions such as never turning your back to the ocean!
What is the safest part of Honolulu?
Waikiki is one of the safest parts of Honolulu since it has many police officers and there are always people around. Some residential neighborhoods such as Hawaii Kai are even safer.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
Honolulu is one of the safest big cities in the United States. Violent crime is rare, although you should keep an eye on your valuables as petty theft is fairly common.
So, with so much to see and do, and an overall safe atmosphere, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Honolulu and experience for yourself all that this tropical paradise has to offer!