A regular part of the weather forecast in Hawaii is the prediction of when the monthly box jellyfish swarm will hit. About ten days after a full moon there is a warning for swimmers to stay out of the water along affected beaches.

There are two important parts of that warning. First, the jellyfish invasion is very regular: the City and County of Honolulu has a calendar predicting future swarms that allows you to plan Hawaii activities. When my sister and her husband visited, we wanted to spend one day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. The week of their vacation was close to the time that boxjellies are expected. I sent a message by Twitter to a local TV weather person, who assured me that the waters should be clear by the day we selected.

The second part of the warning is that it does not affect all beaches. Hanauma Bay is affected and occasionally closes if there is a h3 swarm of jellyfish. However, the beaches on the windward side of Oahu are not affected — I never see them in Kailua.

The Hanauma Bay website warns swimmers to avoid contact with jellyfish, either in the water or dead ones on the beach. They have powerful venom. If you are stung, you may feel a stinging, burning sensation, redness and swelling and even long red welt lines where the tentacles touched your skin.

A final caution. The monthly jellyfish swarm usually lasts three days. If those are days you planned to spend in the water, either move to a different beach or re-arrange your schedule. On the day I took this picture in Waikiki, I saw people walking past the warning sign into the water — including children. Dealing with a venomous sting is not a memory you want to take home from Hawaii. Heed the warning and give the little jellies their space.


  1. Ouch! Yes beware of these boxed jellyfish. An avid ocean person such as myself speaks with experience. If you are stung by boxed jellyfish, apply generous amounts of vinegar before and after the tentacle is removed. The tentacle can and should be removed with a towel or gloved hand to prevent secondary stinging.
    Lifeguards will post signs when these jellyfish are sighted.. Pay attention to the posted signs and you’ll be A.O.K. Enjoy the ocean, but be safe!

  2. I have been in and around beaches for 40 years and I suppose I’ve been stung by every marine stinger species at some point…tried all the myths…meat tenderizer…urine..baking soda..sand and so on but vinegar has always worked…always rinse in salt water never fresh…remove any remaining tentacles with a gloved hand or stick but never touch them as the nematocysts continue to fire…since its almost impossible to remember to bring pickles or vinegar to the beach, I found a product that is 5% acetic acid called StingMate…vinegar on steroids…it works..very effective..watched it work on a bud at Waikiki after getting hit by a Box…convenient spray bottle fits in your pocket or surf bag… got mine on line… keep the sunny side up…BL

  3. I once saw a teenager that was bitten by a jellyfish in Hawaii. He had just been helped from the ocean by friends. He was in a lot of pain. People meed to be very careful and avoid these jellyfish.

  4. Great advice BL — I’ll check out that product.

    On my first several visits to Hawaii, I was not sure I could see or recognize a jellyfish in the water. Even if I could, I was so dazzled by BEING in the ocean that I would have not noticed. That’s one reason I suggest prevention – trust the lifeguards and weather people!

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