In sad news, the Kauai Police Department reported that a visitor to the island died while attempting to save others at famed Hanalei Bay. The 67-year-old was visiting from Poland when he drowned Wednesday afternoon. Last week when we were there, the lifeguards warned swimmers to get out of the water due to the rip current at the same location.
He was later brought ashore by surfers. Residents told us that the surf height was in the 5-7 foot range when the incident occurred. Although life support was attempted at the beach and en route to the hospital in Kapaa, he couldn’t be saved. There will be an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
The deceased tried to save two swimmers who had become distressed in the ocean near the Hanalei Pavilion. It was about 5:15 when it happened, and the lifeguards go off duty at 5:00. It has long been suggested that lifeguard hours be extended.
Ironically, the two people he died rescuing were able to come safely to shore, even as he became unresponsive. And that brings up some things to consider.
- Call 911 for help and yell for an experienced swimmer. In this case, the Hanalei fire station is close by in Princeville and could have been there soon.
- Do NOT attempt to rescue a drowning person by entering the water if you have not been trained, as you will be endangering yourself.
- There are rescue tubes at Kauai beaches. If you are a strong and confident swimmer, it’s good to watch this video before there is a need to help someone.
Hanalei Bay has two distinct faces.
The casual-hip surf town Hanalei Bay Kauai is about as Hawaii as you will find. And the beach is the primary draw for visitors from around the world. It’s also the last town before the famed North Shore drive to Kee Beach, where the Kalalau trail begins.
Frequently named among the best beaches in America, it has sparkling blue clear water with a spectacular mountain backdrop.
What many visitors fail to realize is the seasonally deadly nature of Hanalei Bay in winter. It’s known for big waves and great surfing that time of year. There is frequently a rip tide.
It is during the summer, however, that Hanalei Bay can become like a bathtub and be safe for wading and swimming. But in winter especially, extreme caution should be exercised.
We suggest swimming only at the two lifeguarded points at Hanalei Bay beach. Those are located at the Pavilion and Pine Trees. Please only swim during the hours when the lifeguards are on duty.
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family accompanying him to Kauai.