Use Caution on your Kauai Vacation

by admin on December 20, 2010

Kauai rocks

When in doubt, don't go out.

What is the most dangerous place on Kauai?

That is a difficult question to answer quickly because a variety of locations immediately come to mind. Certainly the beaches must be considered, including the infamous Lumahai where many people have been swept from the rocks or pulled out into the relentless shorebreak.

Kee Beach and its famous channel to the open ocean also come to mind, as does Hanakapaia with its long list of drowning victims who misjudged the size of the waves or the strength of the rip currents which can pull someone hundreds of yards down the coast in a moment’s notice,. When this happens there are no beaches nearby, so even if the person could swim to shore they would find only cliff faces.

Anini Beach also has a famous channel where many snorkelers have gotten into trouble, as does Larsen’s Beach which has also been the sight of numerous tragedies.

The east side beach of Kealia is known for its currents and rough surf, and though it is a very popular beach many rescues have occurred at Kealia. Nearby at Wailua the currents can also be very deceiving, pulling swimmers out to sea before they realize it. This is where Frank Sinatra got into serious trouble and was rescued just in time as he was turning blue, causing him to miss the next day of filming a movie.

Polihale on Kauai’s west side is also renown for people getting into trouble in the water, always a scary situation as the area is very remote and there are no lifeguards. Virtually every beach on Kauai has likely had an incident at one time or another as the ocean poses a variety of hazards that change each day depending on numerous variables including the wind, currents, tides, and waves as well as the swimming and ocean skills of the people involved.

Moving on from the beaches, there are many other possibilities when it comes to naming Kauai’s most dangerous place. Helicopter tours have made headlines with numerous crashes. Not long ago there were five crashes in just a four year period with man fatalities, from the coastal waters of the north shore to the top of Mt. Waialeale. Of course there are thousands of helicopter tour flights that have no problem at all, and helicopter tours remain one of Kauai’s most popular high-end attractions. So it is especially important to select a Kauai helicopter tour company that has a flawless safety record. Even the whale watching tours have their problems as a few years ago a breaching whale landed on a boat, breaking a woman’s leg.

Some might say the most dangerous place you can be on Kauai is tromping through the backcountry on land that you don’t have permission to be on. People often get lost on Kauai due to the confusing terrain, and perhaps worse yet they might stumble upon some remote pakalolo patch. Neither scenario bodes well for your personal safety.

One could also make an argument that driving along Kauai’s roads is the most dangerous place to be on the island. Residents are used to seeing cars that have careened off the roads, particularly after a Friday or Saturday night along the twisty north shore roads as well as other parts of the island. Way too often cars have ended up in the ocean, in a river, or lodged against a tree half way down a steep embankment.

A few of the renown local nightspots might also qualify as being the most dangerous place, at least later than about 10:00 pm when some people seem to want to pick a fight.

There are many other places that one could make an argument for when determining Kauai’s most dangerous place, but many would say the most dangerous place of all on Kauai is the natural rock pool of Queens Bath.

Carved into a lava rock shelf below the cliffs of Princeville on Kauai’s north shore, the scenic yet treacherous Queens Bath has been the site of dozens of drownings.

Despite a sign at Queens Bath warning of the dangers, and even an impromptu unofficial tally of all the drowning victims on another sign down among the rocks, Queens Bath continues to pose dangers to tourists as well as locals. Many of the people who have died at Queens Bath were not even in the pool, but only standing on the rocks by the water’s edge.

Tourists visiting Queens Bath are often unaware of the unpredictable nature of waves. There may be twenty minutes of calm followed by an oversized tumultuous wave arriving and smashing violently into the rocks right where people may be standing. Queens Bath turns into a tumultuous whirlpool that can pull people right out into the sea.

The site also poses a danger to local youth who sometimes dare each other toward foolish acts including jumping in the pool when it is surging from the rush of waves. These extremely dangerous and foolhardy acts have resulted in numerous near tragedies if not worse.

The problems at Queens Bath have been blamed, at least in part, on its popularity as a tourist destination due to pictures the area in Guide Books when the pool is calm and gentle. Queens Bath draws many visitors who have no concept of the power of the ocean. They often disregard the posted signs as they explore this north shore “attraction” known as Queens Bath, yet they have no real idea of the inherent danger of walking out on these ocean rocks.
For these reasons Queens Bath is the most dangerous spot on Kauai and should not be entered at any time. Neither should you walk out onto the nearby rocks.

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