The Hawaiian waters are beautiful, enticing – and sometimes deadly. On the island of Kauai alone, seven people already have drowned in the first two months of this year.
The normal rate is about one a month, said Randy Blake, a physician who lives on Kauai. He urged people to swim at beaches with lifeguards. And swimmers shouldn’t turn their backs on the ocean (in case of a surging wave that could knock them over).
Most of the drowning victims in January and February have been tourists, including two California visitors who died in high surf in January. Most recently, a New York tourist died Thursday on a hike while trying to cross a stream swollen by heavy rain.
The hiker was among more than 50 people who were stranded overnight last Thursday on the rugged Na Pali coast on Kauai’s North Shore, along the Kalalau trail, popular for day and overnight hikes. The stream at Hanakapi’ai, about two miles from the trailhead, was swollen by a flash flood, cutting off hikers and forcing them to stay overnight. They were escorted out by emergency personnel after the water subsided.
Two Seattle hikers were among 10 other hikers temporarily stranded farther along the Na Pali coast trail last week after a heavy rainstorm, said The Garden Island, a community newspaper on Kauai.
See Hawaii Beach Safety for tips and updates on beach conditions on all the major Hawaiian islands.