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Is Kauai Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Kauai Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

The island of Kauai is a popular getaway for people traveling to Hawaii. It receives about 100,000 visitors monthly. The lush tropical landscapes are the main draws for tourism on the island.

Lovers of nature flock to the wild landscapes of Waimea Canyon State Park and Wailua Falls. The coast is also spectacular, with craggy cliffs and dramatic beaches.

Hike Na Pali Coast State Park for some of the best views in the world. Besides natural wonders, check out the coffee and rum producers when you need a shot of something delicious.

A trip to Kauai is a must for any lover of good hikes, but before you go anywhere new, it’s always a good idea to research safety and other practical concerns. You never know what might be hidden beneath a landscape that looks like paradise.

But don’t worry — our travel experts have done the hard work for you. This detailed safety guide can help you decide if a trip to Kauai is right for you. Keep reading for more information, including on the local crime rate.

Is Kauai Safe to Visit in 2024?

Woman walking along the Na Pali Coast on the Kalalau Trail and being dwarfed by the giant rock cliffs above to show that Kauai is very safe

Colton Stiffler/Shutterstock

Kauai is one of the safest places in the United States for visitors. It has a very low crime rate, although some property crime against tourists does occur.

You also need to take basic precautions when you go out into nature, but those precautions are not specific to Kauai. Kauai is a quiet, laid-back island that doesn’t receive a lot of crime. However, it experiences some crime, primarily property crime.

Common types of crime you might run into while in Kauai include:

  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • Theft from hotel rooms
  • Theft from rental cars
  • Motor vehicle theft

Violent crime in Kauai is extremely rare, and violent crime directed at tourists is practically nonexistent. You are more likely to be the victim of a petty property crime.

Property crime is a problem throughout Hawaii, and the whole state has a much higher property crime rate than the national average. Kauai is not that densely populated so its property crime rate is lower than on some other islands, but theft is still a problem.

However, it is much rarer here than in Oahu. Nature is a bigger source of danger to you in Kauai than other people. Since most people come to the island to enjoy the beautiful nature, you will probably do the same.

When you go hiking, swimming, or just enjoy the scenery, it is important to take the right precautions. Swimming conditions in the ocean are often dangerous.

Currents and riptides can quickly carry you out further than you planned. There are also dangerous marine animals such as jellyfish. Several out-of-state visitors drown each year.

The island of Kauai has an official website that lists beaches throughout the island and the safety alerts, updated daily. Check this website before making swimming plans.

Only go to beaches that have lifeguards, no matter how strong of a swimmer you think you are. Follow posted warnings and ask the lifeguard on duty if there is anything that you need to watch out for when swimming.

Other important swimming precautions to take is to never swim alone. You never know what might happen and you want someone to call for help. Observe the ocean for a few minutes before jumping in so you know what precautions you might need to take.

Never, ever turn your back to the ocean. You also need to watch out for certain natural disasters while visiting. The most common types of natural disaster are flooding and landslides.

Kauai is one of the spots in the United States that receives the most rain annually, and heavy tropical storms sometimes wreak havoc on the island. For example, in 2018, landslides and flooding displaced hundreds of people in Kauai.

When you go hiking, always keep an eye out for weather reports updating you to hazardous conditions such as these.

If there are flash flood alerts, don’t attempt any outdoor activities and focus on getting to safety. Always research the trails you want to try out ahead of time in case there was recently some flooding damage.

Crime in Kauai

Unique swinging suspension bridge in Hanapepe for a piece on whether or not it's safe to visit Kauai this year

Ventu Photo/Shutterstock

Kauai has a fairly low crime rate. The close-knit, sparsely populated island doesn’t exactly provide cover for hardened criminals. However, crime does occur here, just like it does anywhere else.

Property crime is the main concern for tourists. Visitors are often targeted for incidents of petty theft. The State of Hawaii publishes detailed reports on crime in all the islands, including Kauai.

You can access the most recent report, from 2020, here. The vast majority of crime incidents, 84.8% of them, are property crimes. The most common property crime is larceny-theft, followed by burglary and motor vehicle theft.

Larceny theft is a broad category that includes everything from pickpocketing to shoplifting. The most popular form of theft was shoplifting, followed by theft from motor vehicles.

Incidents of pickpocketing were almost nonexistent, although keep in mind that these crime statistics are from 2020, when tourism was not present on the island and crime statistics are not the most representative.

Violent crimes are fairly rare on the island.

The most common violent crime is assault, which makes up 9.7% of total crimes committed in Kauai. The rate of sexual assault is moderate on the island, although most victims are unfortunately local women.

The rape rate also increased on the island over the past few years, although this increase was due to the fact that the local government updated the definition of rape to be more expansive.

Still, it is a good warning for female travelers to exercise additional precautions when traveling to Kauai. The good news is that crime is generally trending downwards. Over the past decade, crime overall decreased by 55.4%.

This decrease affected violent and property crimes. Considering that the decrease in crime happened at the same time that Kauai’s population increased, that shows how safe the island is.

Theft From Vehicles

One of the most common crimes affecting visitors to Kauai is theft from vehicles. Kauai’s attractions are far-flung and public transportation is not the best on the island, meaning that many visitors have to rent vehicles to get around.

However, theft from vehicles is one of the most common crimes on the island. Criminals often target rental cars as they know tourists are potentially lucrative targets.

Thieves operate in locations they know are popular parking spots for tourists, such as beach parking lots and hiking trail heads. You don’t want to deal with a problem not covered by rental insurance, so take the right precautions to prevent theft.

The best way to prevent theft from vehicles is to make sure there is nothing in your rental car that might attract a thief (at least, nothing in sight).

Never leave anything in your car that you would be devastated to lose. Always take your valuables with you when you leave the car. Try to avoid leaving any possessions in your car unattended.

If you have to leave anything in your car, such as shopping bags or luggage, make sure that you take the most expensive items with you. Put items somewhere where they are out of sight, such as your trunk or glove compartment.

Don’t open your trunk when there are other people around who might see that you are carrying it around with you.

How and where you park is also key. Try to park somewhere where there are other people around, providing less cover for thieves. Lock your doors and roll up your windows to make it difficult for someone to rob you.

Accommodation Break-Ins

Burglaries are less common in Kauai than vehicle break-ins, but they can still happen. You don’t want to deal with the terror of someone breaking into your hotel room or rental home!

Basic precautions can help prevent burglaries. Something as simple as locking the door and closing your windows when you leave the hotel or when you are sleeping can prevent a lot of crimes.

Many people get so taken in by the atmosphere of safety in Kauai that they forget even such basic precautions, creating the perfect atmosphere for thieves. Try not to talk about your accommodation when you are in public.

Never tell new acquaintances where you are staying in detail as you never know who might have bad intentions. If you are staying in a hotel, remember that hotel lobbies are technically a public area, and you could get robbed by someone who wanders in.

The good side about staying in a hotel is that most hotels offer room safes or lobby safes for you to store your valuables. These options are a great way to protect your things.

Even if you don’t have a safe, make sure that you store valuables somewhere hidden instead of leaving them out in the open where they are easily visible to anyone who might walk in or wander past your windows.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Colorful scene with the Queen's bath in full view, flowing out into the ocean. One of the areas to be extremely careful in while in Kauai

Dave H. Fine/Shutterstock

There are not many high-crime areas in Kauai. However, there are a few places you should be careful of in terms of your physical safety. Never swim at any beaches without lifeguards as they are very dangerous.

Certain swimming areas, such as freshwater pools with “no swimming” signs and Queen’s Bath, are highly dangerous. Kipu Falls is now banned to visitors after several deadly encounters.

Research the difficulty of hiking trails ahead of time. Certain trails, such as Kalalau Trail, are extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced hikers in good conditions.

Things to Consider

Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting Kauai:

  • Be careful of freshwater swimming holes due to leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a dangerous bacterial infection particularly common in tropical areas. Don’t go swimming if you have any cuts or scratches. Always follow posted signs warning against swimming.
  • Obey local laws. Regulations around certain things are very strict in Kauai. For example, fines for not wearing your seat belt are very high. Kauai has a reputation for loose guidelines around swimming, but despite the rumors, nude swimming is not allowed.
  • Be careful driving. There is only one major two-lane highway that serves as the main road for getting around the island. Always watch the road as conditions can change at any time. Left turns away from the highway are allowed, but U-turns are not.
  • Be respectful of the trails. Never venture off trail as you could damage the delicate landscapes. Don’t litter or pick flowers. Scrub your hiking boots before coming to Kauai as any stray seeds could affect the delicate ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aerial view of a secluded beach nestled within the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai

Pongsakorn Teeraparpwong/Shutterstock

Here are some common questions you might want to ask before visiting Kauai:

Is it safe to go to Kauai?

Yes, Kauai is safe to visit. The crime rate is very low. However, if you are checking out the popular beaches and hiking trails, make sure that you are careful about precautions you take while in nature.

Is Kauai safe at night?

Kauai is not exactly dangerous at night since the crime rate is fairly low. However, avoid deserted areas at night, such as beaches and remote trails. You never know what or who you could run into.

Is Kauai safe for women?

Yes, Kauai is fairly safe for women! Although rape is the second most common violent crime on the island, the statistic is deceiving. It is due to an expanded definition of rape that is kinder to survivors compared to criminal definitions in other places.

What is crime like in Kauai?

The crime rate in Kauai is fairly low. The vast majority of crimes committed on the island are petty property crimes.

Which is better: Maui or Kauai?

The answer depends on what you are looking for. If you want a typical Hawaii experience with luxury resorts, plenty of shopping and entertainment, and perfect beach weather at all times, then Maui is the better choice.

If you want fewer crowds, a more authentic experience, and rugged nature, and don’t mind plenty of rain, then Kauai is the better choice.

So, Should You Travel to Kauai?

Kauai is very safe to visit. As long as you take precautions to protect your valuables and follow local advice when heading into nature, you should have a perfectly safe trip.

So, with so much to see and do, and a safe atmosphere overall, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Kauai today and experience for yourself all that this tropical paradise has to offer. Happy travels!