Maui is one of the most popular destinations for people visiting Hawaii. The island receives nearly 3 million visitors annually, making it one of Hawaii’s top tourist destinations.
Maui offers something for everyone, from beautiful nature and relaxing beaches to plenty of nightlife and entertainment. Check out some of the beautiful beaches, such as Kapalua Bay Beach, Big Beach, and the Black Sand Beach.
Enjoy Maui’s natural beauty, such as the hike to the top of Haleakala. Maui is also one of the most developed Hawaiian islands, with plenty of opportunities to take in a luau, go shopping in the boutiques of Lahaina, and check out local delicacies.
It’s certainly tempting to book a flight to Maui immediately, especially once you see photos of the beautiful island.
However, even the most beautiful locations can hide some ugly realities, and it’s important to research practical concerns such as safety before planning any trip.
But don’t worry — our travel experts are here to help. We’ve rounded up all you need to know to stay safe on your trip to Maui, including everything from crime to natural disasters. Let us be your guide!
Is Maui Safe to Visit in 2023?
Like all of Hawaii, Maui is a safe place to visit! Most visitors to the island have a great time and return home with only good memories.
However, there is some petty crime directed at visitors, and nature can be hazardous sometimes, so taking a few precautions is always a good idea.
Common problems you might encounter on Maui include:
- Petty theft
- Street crime
- Vehicle break-ins
- Drug abuse
The vast majority of crimes that visitors might encounter on Maui are petty in nature. There have been situations of visitors to Maui being involved in violent crime, such as assault.
However, most of these incidents happen at night and often involve alcohol. Some basic precautions (and common sense) are enough to keep you away from violent crime on Maui.
Maui does struggle with crime sometimes, and according to some statistics, it is the Hawaiian island with the highest crime rate. The crime rate has been increasing slightly lately, with Maui residents worried about a recent string of violent crimes.
However, compared to almost anywhere else in the United States, Maui is a much safer place to be. Besides crime, you should also be mindful of the risk of natural disasters when planning your trip.
Although Maui doesn’t have many volcanic eruptions, vog (volcanic smog) from Kilauea volcano sometimes reaches Maui. This form of air pollution can make symptoms of chronic conditions such as asthma worse.
Although these disasters are not very frequent, it is still a good idea to be mindful of the potential risk.
Read up on weather predictions before you visit and pay attention to any alerts or evacuation orders. Don’t engage in risky activity, such as hiking remote trails, if the weather is unpredictable.
Crime on Maui
Crime is one of the primary concerns for people traveling to Maui, and with good reason. The island does have one of the highest crime rates in Hawaii.
However, its crime rate is still far lower than most places in the United States. The Hawaiian government offers a detailed breakdown of crime on the island.
In the annual report of 2019, the police department offers breakdowns by crime committed on Maui (keep in mind that the report is for Maui County, which includes the island of Maui as well as a few others, such as Molokai).
According to the official report from 2019, the vast majority of crime committed on Maui is property crime. Violent crime only makes up about 8.3% of the crime total, while property crime makes up the remaining 91.7%.
The most common violent crime on Maui is assault, which makes up 60.4% of violent crime totals. It is followed by rape, which makes up 41.2% of reported violent crimes.
Violent crimes have declined on Maui since their peak in 2015, but they are slowly increasing again. Law enforcement links the rise in violent crime to the rise in drug addiction and dependency on the island.
Drug abuse is increasing on Maui, especially the dangerous drug fentanyl. Many crimes on the island are drug-related. The vast majority of crimes committed on Maui are non-violent property crimes.
The most common type of property crime is larceny-theft, but that’s because larceny-theft is a very broad category of crime. In 2019, there were 3,746 incidents of theft on Maui.
When the police break down larceny-theft further, there are a few types that are more common than others. The most common form of larceny-theft is theft from motor vehicles, which makes up 5.7% of total property crimes.
Shoplifting is also a common form of theft, although this one hardly affects tourists. Anecdotally, crime on Maui has risen over the past few years (the state hasn’t released more recent police reports yet to the public, at least not in an easily findable way).
Societal factors such as drug abuse, growing homelessness, and economic devastation in some communities play a big role in the growing crime rate.
However, it’s important to stay calm when looking at the statistics or reading in forums that the the island’s crime rate has gotten so much worse.
The crime rate was fairly low to begin with, so chances are, even with the rise in crime, Maui is safer than your hometown. Plus, most crime increases happened in communities that are far away from places where tourists tend to venture.
The most likely crime you will encounter is petty theft. Petty theft is a common crime wherever there is a popular tourist destination, and Maui is no different.
Although street crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is not that common, it’s still good to be on your guard. Most property crimes in Hawaii, including Maui, are targeted at tourists.
There are a few different factors for this, including local resentment of tourists, perception that tourists are wealthier than locals, and opportunity.
Not everyone you meet on Maui is a tourist-targeting pickpocket, but it is still a good idea to be on your guard as a visitor. Basic precautions against pickpocketing can help you stay safe during your visit.
Make sure that you put valuables in a safe place, such as your front pocket or a secure cross-body bag. Try to leave most possessions in a hotel safe and only carry around the cash that you need for the day.
Most thefts on Maui are thefts of unattended items. Tourists tend to get careless and get taken in by the relaxing vacation atmosphere. Make sure that you never leave your things out of sight.
Thieves often operate on popular beaches and rifle through people’s bags while they are swimming. You have a few options instead of leaving your things on the beach.
Swim with a buddy or a group, and make sure at least one of you is watching your things on the shore at all times.
Buy a waterproof bag and put valuables such as your phone in it while you swim. Or leave most of your valuables in your hotel room (yes, even your phone — take it as a challenge to live in the moment).
Theft From Vehicles
Theft from vehicles is the most common property crime in all of Hawaii. Maui is no different. Thieves often target rental cars because they know those are often driven by tourists.
If you want to explore the entire island, you’ll have to rent a car because public transportation is not the best, making you vulnerable to this crime. However, you can always take precautions to protect yourself from the possibility of theft.
The best precaution is to make sure that you don’t have many things that someone can steal. Always take your valuables with you when you leave your car, even if you are going swimming or hiking.
If you have to leave your things in the car, make sure that they are somewhere out of sight such as in your trunk or glove compartment. You should also be careful where you park.
Try to park in a more crowded area such as a popular parking lot. Where there are more people, thieves are less likely to be able to break into your car unnoticed.
Overnight parking locations are important for your safety. If you are renting a car, make sure that your accommodation offers secure parking options such as a driveway with a security camera or a hotel garage.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Like any place in the world, Maui has a few dangerous areas. Locals advise people to avoid Kahului, which is a small town that has the highest crime rate on the island.
The local population is mostly impoverished, allowing crime to flourish. Other towns or census-designated areas on the island that have high crime rates include Napili-Honokowai, Happy Valley, and Pakuz.
Most dangerous parts of Maui are far away from popular tourist attractions. Trust your instincts and ask a local for advice if you are planning to go exploring.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to Maui:
- Be careful around drugs and alcohol. Many crimes on the island, especially violent crimes, are related to substance use. Assaults against tourists are most common when visitors get into bar fights. Watch your intake and make sure that your instincts are never inhibited.
- Be careful driving. Some rural roads are dangerous at night due to poor lighting and road conditions. Don’t drink and drive as penalties are severe, and alcohol makes navigating the tough Maui roads even harder.
- Don’t trespass. Maui locals are frustrated by visitors frequently trespassing on private property in their quest for beautiful views and waterfalls — and many people on the island own firearms. You don’t want to run afoul of an angry local. Guidebooks don’t always mention if trails cross over private property, so ask a local just in case.
- Respect Mother Nature. Don’t get too close to animals such as monk seals. Take precautions to avoid damaging the fragile ecosystems you encounter, such as wearing reef-safe sunscreen and not littering.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other questions you might have about safety on Maui:
Is it safe to walk in Maui at night?
Some places in Maui, such as popular resort towns, are safe to walk at night, but others are not. Before going for an evening walk, ask a local for advice. Trust your instincts and avoid isolated areas after dark.
Is it safe to go to Maui?
Yes, Maui is a safe destination. Although there is some petty crime that affects visitors, most people have a safe experience.
What should I be careful of in Maui?
In Maui, make sure that you are being careful of nature. The ocean is a powerful entity, and don’t endanger yourself by overestimating your own skills, engaging in water sports alone, or turning your back on the ocean. Only visit beaches with lifeguards and follow their advice.
What is the crime rate in Maui?
The crime rate in Maui is low to moderate. The vast majority of crimes on the island, about 91% of them, are property crimes.
Is Maui safe for solo females?
Maui is one of the best destinations for solo female travelers as it is very safe and welcoming. However, try to make friends in hostels or travel meet-up groups if you want to go swimming or try out water sports as it isn’t safe to do that alone.
So, Should You Take a Trip to Maui?
Visiting Maui is a great decision. Not only is the island beautiful, but it is also very safe to visit. The island has its fair share of problems such as substance abuse and property crime, but with the right precautions, most visitors don’t need to encounter those problems.
So, with so much to see and do, and a safe atmosphere overall, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Maui today and experience for yourself all that this tropical paradise has to offer. Happy travels!