Kauai Ocean Safety
In general, Kauai ocean safety is a topic of great discussion on the Garden Island. Everyday, every hour, the conditions along our shorelines change. Beaches change shape daily due to fluctuating ocean and atmospheric 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 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). Look for flags on the beach that mark rip currents on life guarded beaches.Lifeguards on Kauai are the real deal. To be a lifeguard you have to be an incredible lifelong swimmer and trained waterman/woman. Ask and listen to county lifeguard advice. They will share priceless information about daily conditions to prevent dangerous situations before there is a need for rescue. The majority of Kauai’s best beaches are in remote locations, far from help.
Always exercise causation in remote areas. 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. We like to use the twenty-minute rule. Observe the ocean fro twenty minutes. Throw something natural that floats in the water, then watch what it does. Most people get themselves in trouble by simply not understanding rip currents. The best way to practice sound Kauai ocean safety is to check daily condition, learn the basics, observe, ask for advice from locals and respect for the ocean.
The county of Kauai has held some of the highest drowning rates in the United States. Don’t mean to be a Debbie downer, but too few Kauai travelers have access to Kauai Ocean Safety information. In 2012, Kapaa Rotary, Kauai life guard association and other got together to make a water safety video for display in the baggage claim of Lihue airport. This short video will help explain why the ocean here is different then many other vacation destination, including other Hawaiian islands. After a long cold winter in the northern latitudes any body of 78 degree water will be appealing. Take a few minutes to understand what makes it unique.
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 contrast during the summer months, the predominant swell direction comes from the south/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. Kauai ocean safety is important to the county, state, residents, and visitor of the Garden island! With all that being said, try to find another island on the planet that offers the beach quality and quantity of Kauai. Put in your time, educate yourself and enjoy Kauai waters safely.