Hawaii Jellyfish Stings | 2015 Caution Dates and Treatments

Hawaii Jellyfish Stings | 2015 Caution Dates and Treatments

Plan a “sting-free” Hawaii vacation with our updated 2014-15 calendar of Hawaii Jellyfish caution dates.

South facing Hawaii beaches are most impacted by jellyfish eight days after a full moon. These include Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park, Haunama Bay and the Waianae Coast on Oahu. Kauai can have warning signs posted at Poipu Beach.  Maui beaches and Big Island beaches are also affected but typically have fewer problems.

Here in Hawaii, jellyfish types include the box, moon and lagoon varieties.

Jellyfish Tips

Awareness. Check with a lifeguard for sure and look for jellyfish washed up on the sand as an indication of a problem.

Timing. You’ll usually find jellyfish on impacted beaches eight days following a full moon. The problem can persist for three days. If you’re here during a jellyfish invasion, talk to the lifeguard for advice.  Also check the beach to see if any jellyfish have washed ashore.

If you are stung, there’s good news below. There is much ongoing research in the area and the University of Hawaii has a new topical treatment in the works for a jellyfish sting. Jellyfish have long been a problem in Hawaii and they only seem to be getting worse.

2014-2015 Hawaii Jellyfish Sting Caution Dates

While jellyfish stings can happen at other times, these are the most likely dates when problems may occur.

2015

May 12 to 14
June 11 to 13
July 10 to 12
August 9 to 11
September 7 to 9
October 6 to 8
November 5 to 7
December 4 to 6

Jellyfish Treatments

The University of Hawaii has devised what may be the first effective topical treatment for jellyfish stings. When one of its researchers was stung badly fourteen years ago she began studies which have now yielded an effective treatment. While not available yet, patents for the gel have already been applied for.

In the event of a jellyfish sting do the following:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if in shock.
  • Rinse the site with vinegar to deactivate the toxins and help remove the remaining tentacles and nematocysts.
  • Use hot water or ice packs to reduce the pain duration and intensity.

Have you been stung by a box jellyfish and if so what has worked in terms of treatment? Please let us know in comments below.

Beat of Hawaii photo at Waikiki Beach.




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40 Comments

  1. Ann Kelly-Wyman (5 days ago)

    I was stung by a Jellyfish in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. I hit the jellyfish when it stung me which caused it to sting me again. I have a photo of the sting on my arm. This was the week of Christmas 2002.

    I have a photo of the sting.

  2. Ryoverde (1 week ago)

    South Texas also gets jellyfish. State Parks & Wildlife recommends vinegar (as here) or 1:10 bleach, or very warm (not quite scalding) water. But the locals recommend unseasoned meat tenderizer — which, when I tried it, works like magic, in 10 minutes or less.

  3. Maureen (1 week ago)

    I was stung on June 24, 2015 by a Portuguese Man O’ War in Kaneohe. It wrapped itself around my legs and arms, leaving painful welts. I was wearing a T-shirt, so my torso was thankfully not stung. It looked like I was caught up in barbed string in the water. I could see its translucent blue sail floating on the surface of the water. I was just off the shore, so I swam back and soaked in a tub of hot water. After about 30 minutes, most of the pain had subsided. I also dabbed the wounds with vinegar after getting out of the hot water. My nose also became a bit stuffy, so I took Benadryl. I have been advised by poison control to get a tetanus shot within 24 hours if I haven’t had one in the last ten years, and I will do that.

  4. Maureen (1 week ago)

    I was stung on June 24, 2015 by a Portuguese Man O’ War in Kaneohe. It wrapped itself around my legs and arms, leaving painful welts. I was wearing a T-shirt, so my torso was thankfully not stung. It looked like I was caught up in barbed string in the water. I could see it’s translucent blue sail floating on the surface of the water. I was just off the shore, so I swam back and soaked in a tub of hot water. After about 30 minutes, most of the pain had subsided. I also dabbed the wounds with vinegar after getting out of the hot water. My nose also became a bit stuffy, so I took Benadryl. I have been advised by poison control to get a tetanus shot within 24 hours if I haven’t had one in the last ten years, and I will do that.

  5. Grand (2 weeks ago)

    I’ve been stung yesterday close to Kailua on the arm, the first day, I felt nearly nothing, but today, it’s itchy crazy! I put essential lavender oil and this helps a bit …

  6. Sherri V (2 weeks ago)

    Stung off Maui Aston Kaanapali Shores beach on June 12th, about 50 yards off shore, swimming to go snorkeling. Brushed over my left arm. Never saw it. Ended up at Doctor’s On Call. Benedryl, litacaine cream and ice packs worked!

  7. Christy (3 weeks ago)

    Stung today at Castles Beach north of Kahuku. Lots of people in water yet I seemed the only lucky one to get stung. :/ vinegar and baking sod paste took away sting for now….

  8. Gc (3 weeks ago)

    We are staying at Kailua on Oahu.
    My son and granddaughter were stung June 9. Ended our afternoon at the beach. Morning of June 10 I stepped on the body of a mostly buried jelly while walking the beach. It caused a large blister the size of a silver dollar. Going to be a couple weeks before I will be able to walk normally, so no tennis or golf for awhile.

    Counted 19 jellies on the Kailua beach.

  9. CT (4 weeks ago)

    Stung about 5 meters from beach on back of knee. Used my paddle to tangle tenticle. Feels like wasp bite. Vinigar helped. Once bitten, twice shy. Lanikai.

  10. Heidi (1 month ago)

    Jellyfish larvae is in full effect near Beach House and Poipu Beach the last two days. My daughter and I would LOVE some treatment that actually works. We’ve been itching since last night. I’m falling asleep from the benadryl and we’ve tried vinegar, benadryl cream, and some steroid anti itch cream. We are miserable.

    • Chris (1 month ago)

      Have you tried Stingmate?

  11. Bob Hamilton (4 months ago)

    We’ve been here at Kailua for the last 11 nights. We are from Calgary, Alberta. I’ve been swimming in the bay regularly – swum out to flat island a couple times. This morning, Feb 13, just after starting to swim, I felt a prick on my shoulder. I had also felt something with my leg at some point. I swam to shore and a local person asked if I had been stung. I said, yes, I had felt something. He then pointed out all the box jellyfish on shore – said that in 50 years, he had never seen them here before. Thankfully it was not a bad sting. Channel 4 media was there and they interviewed me. I also spoke to the lifeguards. Now we are flying back to the safety of a Canadian winter!!

  12. Susie Burnett (9 months ago)

    Although not a resident of Hawaii, I was raised on the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia (Atlantic Ocean) and was stung by jellyfish or stinging nettles more times than I can count. Around here, we don’t go to the beach without a jar of MSG (monosodium glutimate, or meat tenderizer) in our beach bag.

    When stung, first determine if any nettles remain on the body and if so, rinse them off with water or as stated before, vinegar. Then liberally apply the msg to the sting area. DO NOT rub it in, don’t rub sand on it, just let it sit for 15-30 minutes and the sting goes away.

    Again, I don’t know what variety of stinging nettles we have in our area, but this has always helped us. MSG can be found sometimes in a local Dollar Tree or Dollar Store. Hope this helps!

  13. Christine (1 year ago)

    Regarding the U of Hawaii “Treatment Coming” headline, there are already effective topical first-aid products available for jellyfish stings. And the medical treatment guidelines recommend an acetic acid solution: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/122/18_suppl_3/S934.full#content-block. StingMate is a 5% acetic acid gel, which meets the recommended guidelines and is available to buy now. I have seen other products as well but some contain lidocaine or ammonia, which are not recommended.

  14. Jess (1 year ago)

    I got stung April 13 2014 around 12pm swimming to chinamans hat. I had no idea there were jellyfish in the area. Never saw anything in the water or any signs. Don’t know what kind of jellyfish either. It got my entire leg.

  15. janel (1 year ago)

    Sunday 3/30/2014

    My daughter was stung today at Anahola beach (5pm) on Kauai… standing ankle deep at the edge of the waves. She felt the shocking zap-sting, looked down and saw a bluish blob on her foot & kicked it off onto the waves. She walked over to me & showed us her foot saying she had just been stung. There was a tentacle still attached (that had blue lines in it). My husband pulled it off (he got a bit of sting on his fingers too). Both doing ok now after multiple home remedies & a call to the doctor.

  16. Jojo (1 year ago)

    Thx for the info! I was stung today by a man of war @ Lanikai Beach. Didn’t even see it, just felt it. Left welts on my back.

  17. Sarah (1 year ago)

    I was stung today by a Man of War jellyfish. I was just standing with my boyfriend on the shore when it washed up and wrapped around my ankles. It left a lot of welts and hurt pretty bad; I was sick for a few hours but now I’m fine. This was at Bellows.

  18. Kelly Galvin (1 year ago)

    I got stung outside the Westin three days ago on Kanapali beach

  19. meg trebon (1 year ago)

    My daughter got stung this afternoon at Kam III in Kihei. She described a “line of blue dots in the water” that she saw immediately before a wave washed them on to her. Ouch. Lifeguards were great – got her to a hot shower ASAP.

  20. Amie (1 year ago)

    Five people from our group were stung by jellyfish on Kamaole III today.

  21. Gary (1 year ago)

    Partner was stung in Kapalua Bay 8 years ago or so, but don’t know what kind of jellyfish. Never saw it, but left deep welts.

  22. Linda (1 year ago)

    Snorkeled Kapalua Bay just at the border of Napili in Maui yesterday. Amazing assortment of fish, some turtles too. Best snorkel spot to date. To my surprise, very near shore in the middle of the sandy beach was a deep red jelly fish the head the size of a basketball with very long skinny tentacles. Maybe a man o war? It was floating near the surface. When snorkeling we tend to look down but you can bet I will be checking the surface too for the rest of our snorkeling trip. We are off to Big Island tomorrow.

  23. Ruth (1 year ago)

    I was stung yesterday at 6:45am about 100 yards off shore at Lanikai Beach. I was wearing goggles but did not see anything. I just suddenly felt like a razor had cut me across my face and then my upper arm. Thinking that where there is one there are usually others I was terrified as I swam back to shore that I would swim right into a group of them. Was that a legitimate concern? I’m a strong swimmer but the pain made me feel weak. There happened to be a couple of early birds on the beach and they crushed a white berry growing there and had me rub it on the stings. I googled for sting treatments the second I got home (a painful 10 minute walk) and saw that what I most wanted – a cold shower – was a bad idea. Based on what I read I tried rubbing alcohol to no effect. Vinegar which helped a little. I put on shaving cream and shaved over the stings to remove any tentacles although I couldn’t see any. Just the thought of them being under my skin had me anxious. Finally I tried what sounded the least appealing, a hot water compress, and guess what? That was what helped the most!

    I usually swim every day but I have to admit, this has me spooked. Any advice on what do when you’re stung? Are there others around? Is rubbing wet sand on the stings helpful? Thank you!

  24. Nadine (1 year ago)

    Hi

    On November 3, 2007, while swimming with my husband off Waikiki beach, I felt that I had been bitten or stung by something on the wrist, despite the fact that I did not see anything in the water. Immediately it did not feel like anything other than odd or “what was that?”. However as the seconds ticked by I could feel that something was wrong, and told my husband I had to get out of the water right away. By the time I was back on the beach, the pain was excruciating, and I told my husband that I needed to get off the beach as I felt like all I wanted to do was scream. I did go to the lifeguard and he said it was a jellyfish sting. At the same time I could hear a small child screaming, and I instinctively knew by the sound of that scream that he or she must also have been stung. I can best describe this pain as if I someone was holding my wrist over an open flame and I could not take it away. Ice helped quite a bit, but i could not remove the ice bag for hours or the pain would return, it was much better within 24hrs. Both my husband and I had never heard of this happening before off the Waikiki beach, and only later did we see the jellyfish
    warning signs on the beach.

  25. Tanya (1 year ago)

    30th August, My 6yr old was stung today there was signs up will take more notice next time :(

  26. Don (1 year ago)

    Stung on Waikiki beach morning of August 2, 2013 @ 6:15 am.

  27. Cj (1 year ago)

    My daughter was stung 20 July at bellows around 4p

    • Beverly Mason (1 year ago)

      My husband was stung July 4 2013 and friend stung next day. Both mild and at Lagoon 2 on Oahu ko Olina

  28. Beverly Mason (2 years ago)

    Many years ago, in October of 2007, I was snorkeling in the bay over at Lanai while on a snorkel / sail cruise. Suddenly my husband and I started seeing what appeared to be tiny “sparks” in the water. Hey were tiny like cinder spark. Then I started to feel the stinging pain on my face. I rushed to the surface and boarded the boat. My lips were swollen huge, my face was puffy and every bit of it burned and stung unbearably. The captain had me stand under the freshwater shower for a while. After about 30 minutes the pain subsided. The captain said it was a swarm of jellyfish that wouldn’t normally have been there at that time. He actually seemed very surprised. I NEVER want to experience that again. Luckily during my other 4 trips to Hawaii I never have.
    Do you know what kind of jelly fish that would have been??

    • Beat of Hawaii (2 years ago)

      Hi Beverly,

      No that isn’t anything I’ve heard of before. Maybe someone else might know and reply.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Aloha.

  29. Betsy Morrigan (2 years ago)

    On June 4, 2013 I was recently stung badly at the Kona Pier while getting on and out of a canoe, from my feet to my thighs, by what they call “sea lice,” a swarm of miniature jellyfish. I am covered with welts large and small and my feet have swelled up quite a bit. These welts are terribly itchy. I put hydrocortisone cream on them and took Loratadine pills.. I also am soaking my feet in ice cold apple cider vinegar which is helping a lot.

  30. Mike Stroud (2 years ago)

    I was stung swimming along Waikiki beach on the morning of Jan. 5, 2013. The warning signs were put up after my stinging. I was visiting and I wish there had been more of a warning, or information coming my way that the water was about to so possibly hazardous for me to swim in that morning. Fortunately, for all its intense pain for a few hours, the whole thing was over in less than twelve hours.

    • char (1 year ago)

      my son was stung by something .i was wandering did you throw up my son said he started throwing up seconds after the sting on his hand so he layed on surf board for awhile.talked to life guard there and they said no jellyfish for another two days so he said it wasnt a jelly fish .

  31. John Ryan (2 years ago)

    got stung at waikiki about 200 yds out. Was not sure I was going to make it back to shore. Life gaurd who had lived in hawaii all his life said it was the worst sting he had ever seen. would not go to hospital because I have no insurance-went to clinic but they made me go to hospital-I’ve been stung before but this one was beyond pain-like being shocked electically for 3hr nonstop-month later still have a scar-be carefull

  32. Renee (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the info, and most especially for the calendar! I’ll be watching!

  33. Michael (2 years ago)

    Don’t forget the Portuguese Men of War which are always present, carried by winds and tides. Tiny, yes; but they still sting.

  34. DJ (2 years ago)

    Details of the study are here:

    http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=5482

  35. Ed (2 years ago)

    Do we have a list of known jellyfish types in the Hawaiian Islands?
    Specifically the Box Jellyfish and the Irukandji Jellyfish.

    • Beat of Hawaii (2 years ago)

      Hi Ed.

      In addition to the infamous box jellyfish, there are also moon and lagoon varieties. By the way, the Waikiki Aquarium has a great jellyfish exhibit.

      Aloha.

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