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Kauai Ocean Safety
In general, Kauai ocean safety is a topic of great discussion on the Garden island. Everyday, every hour, beach conditions vary. Beaches change shape daily due to fluctuating ocean conditions. Some beaches will be massive during some portions of the year and be completely absent in others. We can’t stress enough the importance of our county lifeguards and Kauai ocean safety. There are only a handful of lifeguard stands exist on the island (Kee, Haena, Hanalei-pinetrees/pavilions, Kealia, Lydgate, Anahola, Saltpond, Kekaha). Lifeguards on Kauai are the real deal. To be a lifeguard in Hawaii you have to be an incredible lifelong swimmer and waterman/woman. Ask and listen for their advice. The best lifeguards, through advice, prevent people from dangerous situations before there is a need for rescue. The majority of Kauai’s beaches are in remote locations, far from help. The county has held some of the highest drowning rates in the United States and unfortunately, over 60% of annual drownings are travelers and tourists on the island. After a long, cold winter in the northern states, 78 degree water may sound inviting. However, a rip current, sizeable surf, and open ocean conditions will challenge even strong swimmers. Every local resident who swims Kauai waters has had a near drowning experience. For this reason, we take Kauai ocean safety very seriously! The skills needed to manage these waters are acquired over the years, through experience and education. We don’t mean to be a buzz-kill, but this is one piece of advice that is not widely given to travelers on Kauai.
The best way to practice sound Kauai ocean safety is to check daily conditions, take advice from lifeguards, and always observe the water for at least twenty minutes before entering. If you don’t know what to look for, then perhaps an enclosed reef or rock area such as Lydgate, Kee, or Poipu Beach is the best place to start. It is impossible for us to recommend a safe place to swim on a given day. Conditions change rapidly and every beach on the island can be dangerous, depending on daily water conditions. The island is small, but the conditions can change dramatically from one beach to the next (making Kauai ideal for advanced surfers).
The winter months carry the predominant and largest swells (waves) from the northwest direction, making North facing shores unpredictable and relatively dangerous. Typically in winter, the more favorable, safer swimming areas can be found on the south shore. In the summer months the predominant swell direction comes from the southwest. This allows for safer swimming conditions on the north shore. Throughout the year Kauai’s prevailing trade winds come from the east/ northeast, which can create dangerous conditions on the entire island. It’s best to take notice and precaution no matter which beach you land on. Kauai ocean safety is important to the county, state, and residents of the Garden island!
When setting up on a beach for the day, make sure you give yourself a solid buffer from the shoreline. If rocks are wet, waves will crash there again… soon. Random or “rouge” waves have been known to crash well beyond the upper tidal area, especially when large swells are present. We can’t tell you how many beach parties quickly become yard sales when a rogue wave surprises unsuspecting sunglass loungers. With all that being said, try to find another island on the planet that offers the beach quality and quantity of Kauai. After traveling the world by sailboat, our team has not yet.