Water Activities-Hawaiis Laws

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There are certain laws in the state of Hawaii when it comes to piloting personal watercraft and for participating in water-based activities. Not only are there rules and regulations for the person operating the watercraft, but there are also rules and regulations for passengers and/or participants.

1. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources of Hawaii, watercraft devices must be registered yearly unless they are Government owned, used for recreation and documented with the U.S. Coast Guard, motor boats that are only used for racing, lifeboats used only for lifesaving situations, recreational devices that are eight feet or less in length propelled only by sail, and manually propelled.

2. After registering your watercraft you must have the registration documents plus the decals on-board at all times.

3. Every person that operates a boat is required to have a certificate from an accredited institution of higher education on the safe use and operation of a watercraft. The certificate should be on-board when the boat is in the water.

4. It is illegal to operate watercraft if a person has been drinking or using drugs.

5. Operating watercraft near swimming areas is not allowed.

6. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 15 to operate personal watercraft in Hawaii, and in order to operate watercraft without the supervision or accompaniment of an adult, a person must be at least 15 years of age.

7. Anyone under the age of 15 is not allowed to operate watercraft like jet skis or any other device that only requires one person to operate.

8. A person is not allowed to use watercraft near a marine life conservation.

9. It is illegal for a person to jump off of one boat to another.

10. Everyone that is on/in the watercraft, even if they aren’t operating it, should wear a life jacket. It is suggested that the life jacket be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard but not required. It’s advised that a life jacket should fit tight or snug and checked often for cuts, tears, holes, etc., Even though people ages 13 and up aren’t required by law to wear a life jacket, children 12 and under must.

Following the rules regarding water activities not only keeps us safe but it is also the law. Before heading out onto the water you should contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources at 808-587-0400 to get information regarding any changes.




  1. www.PWCSafetySchool.com
  2. www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dbor/dbor.htm

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