A new Hawaii state ocean safety website can help.
Designed to raise awareness of risk factors, it includes information on lifeguarded beaches, ocean conditions, warnings, which beaches have the most injuries, and other ocean accident data. DOH coordinator Bridget Velasco said, “Keeping everyone who goes to the ocean safe is a top priority.”
“If in doubt, don’t go out” is the common theme you will hear.
It is easy to think that you are as powerful as the ocean, but that is never the case. Our advice is only to snorkel when the surface is smooth and be mindful of your distance from the shore. The drowning victim this week was 300 feet from shore.
Even though we (BOH editors) are both experienced swimmers, we usually follow the shoreline rather than swim straight out. Also, as anyone will tell you, swimming in a controlled environment like a pool is not the same as being in the ocean.
Top Ten Hawaii Beach Safety Tips.
Issues can include strong currents, wave surges, and seasonal variations in ocean conditions, among others. Be alert, do not turn your back on the ocean, and follow these suggestions for your Hawaii vacation:
1. Minimize risk by being highly aware and respectful of ocean conditions’ dangers.
2. Choose to swim at Hawaii beaches that are lifeguard protected. Also, look for rescue station tubes at many beaches.
3. Follow Hawaii beach warnings and closures.
4. Check with a lifeguard if in any doubt.
5. Observe the water for some time before entering to look for more giant waves appearing in groups.
6. Review ocean safety brochures that are provided in visitor accommodations.
7. Visit ocean safety websites, including the new one referenced above and the Hawaii Beach Safety website from the Hawaii Lifeguard Association. Check for frequent updates on Hawaii surf conditions and warnings for all islands.
8. Understand rip currents and how to deal with them.
9. Avoid painful jellyfish stings – read our updated Hawaii jellyfish update and calendar.
10. Don’t get caught on wet rocks where unexpected waves can suddenly appear. Also, look for hidden underwater rocks at beaches.
Can This Happen to You?
Drowning can happen to anyone at any beach, no matter how famous you are or how good shape. There were 84 drownings in the latest year studied. Other accidents were primarily attributable to hiking and car crashes.
Hawaii beaches are accessible year-round, so you can always find a beach that’s suitable for you. Surf conditions change rapidly and during the seasonal change. For example, if you visited Hanalei Bay in summer, you found a mostly calm surface for swimming. In the winter, however, the surf at Hanalei can be a dangerous 30 feet or more. Even on one day, the surf can start calm and end wild. It can change in minutes.
Some of the Deadliest Hawaii Beaches.
Surprisingly, the deadliest beaches may not be those that first come to mind. Many drownings occur at some of the smoothest water beaches where visitors are snorkeling or swimming.
Hanauma Bay – Oahu (pictured above)
Black Rock – Maui
Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon – Oahu
Molokini – Islet off Maui
Some of the Most Dangerous Hawaii Beaches.
Dangerous beaches in terms of injury but not mortality include the following. If your beach isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have concerns:
Makena Beach – Maui
Hapuna Beach – Big Island
Sandy Beach – Oahu
Brennecke Beach (Poipu) – Kauai
Laaloa Beach – Big Island