Visitor Drownings: How To Stay Safe

This week saw two additional beach drownings on Kauai.  A 20-year old visitor from North Carolina drowned while snorkeling at Poipu on the South Shore.  A 41-year old from Oregon drowned in strong current at the North Shore’s Secret Beach.

Beach drownings in Hawaii are unfortunately common for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of familiarity with seasonal beach conditions. Beaches vary from season to season and from day to day.  A beach that’s easy swimming one season can have 20 foot waves another time of year.
  2. Failure to take into account the power of the ocean here in Hawaii. Pay attention to lifeguard signs and don’t be afraid to ask questions before entering the ocean. It’s better to swim and snorkel closer to the shore.
  3. A desire to do everything possible while on your vacation. Play it safe and stay injury free even if it means changing your plans for the day.
  4. Unrealistic belief in your athletic and swimming capabilities. No matter your age or athletic ability, ocean swimming, and dealing with currents and other conditions, requires experience.

Read our post Staying Alive in Hawaiian Waters for more information and useful links.

I look forward to your comments.


  1. Rob (5 years ago)

    I agree with your point, Jim, and have changed the graphic. It’s a serious issue and I never meant to suggest otherwise. Thanks for taking time to comment.

    You’re right about slippery rocks, Julie. They can be a problem too and cause an unexpected accident.

    Aloha from Rob
    Beat of Hawaii

  2. Jim (5 years ago)

    Yesterday I read the account of this tragic story and perhaps I am overly sensitive, (I am willing to take the blame for that) but I found the graphic for this article slightly disturbing. It has a slightly comic book representation to what can be a drowning person’s very real, last desperate attempts at survival. Perhaps a simple graphic of the ocean would have been more appropriate.
    For whatever it’s worth I thought I would share that. For quite some time now and for I hope long into the future, I will continue to enjoy and look forward to your insight and valuable information regarding Hawaiian travel.

  3. JulieAnn (5 years ago)

    I’d also say to be careful in rivers and pools too, particularly by waterfalls. I’ve known two people who have had serious accidents in the Wailuku River and Boiling Pots in the Hilo area. Rocks can be slippery and there can be undertows by waterfalls. Please be careful!