Hawaii Beach Hiking: the do’s and don’ts

To take a hike or spend the day at the beach? Just one of the many tough choices facing the adventurous visitor. The answer: Do both, brah! Whether you want to people watch along a resort path or trek for miles along one of Hawaii’s wild stretches of coast, plenty of walking space is available. As long as you know where the ocean is, getting lost is out of the question. But there are still several ways to screw up, so keep a few tips in mind:

1. Always watch the surf and, except on the calmest of days, stay well back from the sloping wet sands of retreating waves. Fatalities occur often enough when rogue waves snatch walkers from the shore.
2. When walking low bluffs and reefs between beaches, don’t tred on wet rocks, where waves are likely to break (see above). Every so often, a larger wave will break–unless the sea is basically flat.
3. Avoid strap-on type sandals. Wet sand gets under the straps and causes abrasions, which take forever to heal in Hawaii.
4. When walking rocky areas between wild beaches, look for sand on rocks along the shore. The sand marks the trail, having fallen from the feet of local fishermen who know where to go. Rocks are normally black, smooth lava bolders, so sand traces stand out.
5. Though going barefoot is the choice for beach hiking, carry a pair of flip flops with you.
6. If caught on a wide expanse of scorching sand barefooted, there’s no need to run for your life to find shade. Scoop away the top six inches and you will find cool sand underneath. Let your feet cool, and repeat as necessary.
7. When beach hiking in the scorching sun, take a break in pockets of shade as you find them. You can last a lot longer in the sun if you take a few minutes to let the flesh cool down.
8. “Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink”…make sure you bring some with you.

All Trailblazer guides list beach hikes along with the jungle and mountain trails. NO WORRIES HAWAII (a vacation planning guide) lists the best beach hikes for each island, including resort walks, bluffs and tide pools, and long stretchs of open sand. State of Mind Beach (picutured) is between Baldwin Beach Parks and Lower Paia Beach on the windward coast of Maui.