Boating In Hawaii


Pleasure boating as a family sport is growing in popularity every year. The U.S. Coast Guard estimated the total number of recreational boats in 1962 at 5.85 million. This number has grown to a current estimate of more than 20 million pleasure boats. Each year, an estimated 75 million people go boating. Today recreational boats are used for a wide variety of activities, including fishing, water skiing, hunting, sailing, paddling, or just plain cruising.

wreck1Unfortunately, many pleasure boaters will have problems. U.S. Coast Guard national statistics show that there are approximately 7,000 boating accidents reported each year, involving about 9,000 boats, which result in nearly 1,000 fatalities and about $25 million in property damage. Can these accidents be prevented? The answer is an emphatic YES. Education is a key element in your safety on the water. The more you know about boating, the more you will enjoy it.

Boat Basics (General information about boats) Carbon Monoxide Hazards on Recreational Boats

Boaters and divers have a shared responsibility. Boaters must watch for and avoid dive flags (slow no wake within 200 feet) and divers must mark their positions with a dive flag.  Two educational posters have been printed about Posting a lookout and dive flag regulations.  Dive shops and the public may request copies of these posters by contacting the webmaster.  Both posters are copyrighted and appear on this web site with the permission of the designer, Viki Nasu Design Group. 

Required Markings for Bottomfishing Vessels All vessels engaging in bottomfishing must display proper markings, even if the catch is for home consumption.


Per Act 54: effective January 1, 2004, all vessels more than 1 mile offshore must have a EPIRB or VHF radio on board, for details visit: SB 42 EPIRB/VHF-FM Radio; Mandatory Use on Watercraft

As of January 1, 2007, older Emergency Positioning Indication Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) operating on the 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz frequencies were prohibited from use by the U.S. Coast Guard. Commercial boats operating more than three miles off shore are required to carry 406 MHz digital EPIRBs. In Hawaii, recreational vessels operating more than one mile offshore, unless otherwise equipped with a VHF radio, are required to carry a USCG approved EPIRB as well.
EPIRB Requirements
EPIRB Requirements for Commercial Vessels (PDF Flowchart).

What to Know Before You Go There are numerous off-limits areas in Hawaiian waters. Some are patrolled by the military for your own safety. Boat Smart, Get a Chart.

Even in Hawaii: HYPOTHERMIA!

Life Vests, They Float, You Don’t (Basics about PFDs)

Life Vests for Kids (Excerpt from article about “getting the right fit”)

Managing Boat Wastes (New DOBOR publication, 1.2MB PDF)

Managing Boat Wastes (Excerpt from US Coast Guard publication)

Personal Watercraft (PWC) safety basics In Hawaii, no person under the age of 15 may operate a PWC. All PWC operators must be certified to operate their vessels in State waters. For details, visit

Personal Watercraft (PWC) safety checklist

Pollutants: Keeping Them out of the Marine Environment

Pumpouts in Hawaii (New DOBOR publication, 304K PDF)

Registering and Numbering Your Vessel

WHO SHOULD I CALL? (Whom to contact when situations arise)