Kauai North Shore snorkeling beach by Robin Gotfrid

8 Safety Tips for Kauai Beaches

Hawaii is famous for its many miles of gorgeous beaches! Our properties are close to some of the best beaches on Kauai. Chances are, if you’re visiting the islands, you’ll be going to the beach. Before you hit the waves, be sure to protect yourself in the ocean by heeding these important safety tips. 

Kauai North Shore snorkeling beach by Robin Gotfrid

A Kauai North Shore snorkeling beach where exposed rock can be very slippery

1. When in doubt – don’t go out

Whenever possible, swim at a beach with a lifeguard. If you are unfamiliar with the conditions, do not go out. North shore beaches have rougher waters in the winter and south shore in the summer. Take a guided snorkel trip if you are a less confident swimmer. 

2. Watch your step on the rocks

Wet rocks = waves! Be careful where you step. It’s best to avoid climbing onto rocks, ledges, cliffs, crevices, or cavernous areas near the shoreline in the first place. These slippery areas can cause falls or other injuries, and the waves can easily sweep you away. But if you do venture onto the rocks, keep an eye out for any wet areas and ensure your footing is secure. 

3. Dive under too-tall waves

Some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii are in Kauai. Great surf spots mean big waves, even if you’re swimming or sunbathing you’ll want to know how to handle yourself if you’re caught in a wave. First of all, don’t panic! Easier said than done, but it’s important to relax and keep calm. Things will only get worse if you panic, because the higher your heart rate, the lower your lung capacity. Dive underneath the wave and come up behind it, then swim toward shore between wave sets. 

4. Remain calm in rip currents

While it’s unlikely to happen if you’re paying attention to the weather and signage at the beaches, one of the scariest ocean experiences is being caught in a rip current. It’s important to be informed on how to respond. As in any emergency, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Don’t fight the current, but instead, float or tread water along with it, or swim parallel to the shore, until you feel it release you. Then, you can swim at an angle away from the current and towards the shore. If you aren’t able to break free, call or signal for help by waving. If you see someone swept out in a rip current, DO NOT go in after them– you’ll just get stuck too! Instead, call for help. This situation is frightening, but with a level head and some patience, you’ll be back on shore again. 

5. Check ocean conditions before going out

When walking on the shore, make sure to be alert. It’s important to remember wet sand has been recently washed over by water, but even dry sand can become washed over quickly by a quick rising surf. These powerful shorebreaks can knock you down and pull you into the water. Before you go into the water, check conditions. Do you see any warning flags? Ask a lifeguard about potential hazards and water conditions. Look out for rip currents, and stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties, since permanent rip currents are often found near these structures. These structures are also often surrounded by rocks that can injure you, so be careful where you swim.

Poipu Beach at Sheraton Hotel Kauai by Robin Gotfrid

Poipu Beach at Sheraton Hotel is a very popular swimming spot

6. Swim with a buddy

Don’t go into the ocean alone! Stay safe by always taking a buddy with you when you swim. Keep an eye out for whoever you’re with, and make sure you both occasionally look back at the shore, too. Enter shallow water cautiously, and always swim sober. If you’re watching other swimmers in your party from the shore, put distractions away from you so you can look out for their safety attentively. 

7. Stay Sunscreened

It may seem a lot less consequential, but sun safety is important. Anywhere you can see the sun, the sun can see you, and even on cloudy days, you can get sunburnt! The beach is one of the least shady areas, so keep your skin safe by constantly wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks UV rays, preventing your skin from burning, damage, and even skin cancer. Always protect yourself and the ocean by choosing reef safe sunscreens. 

8. Don’t stand over blowholes

Marine geysers, or blowholes, are one of the natural wonders of Hawaii beaches and part of the attraction for tourists. If you’re not careful, they can be dangerous. Blowholes are formed as sea caves growing landwards and upwards. They grow into vertical shafts, exposing themselves towards the surface. This is what causes compression of sea water that is released from the port in the top of the blowhole. Even if the water’s edge seems far away, water can still get to these areas through underground blowholes, or during high surf conditions. People have even been killed by large waves sweeping them away into blowholes or the ocean. Be careful in wet or slippery areas and follow posted warning signs, keeping away from any restricted areas or barriers. 

Staying alert and aware is always the most important part of ocean safety. Think about what you’re doing before you act. Look out for those around you, and pay attention to warnings, flags, signs, and barriers. Always feel free to ask for help from a lifeguard, and avoid swimming in areas where no lifeguard is present. The ocean is one of the most beautiful things in nature, but as a part of nature, it’s full of majestic and wild power. We should respect that beautiful strength and take care to protect ourselves. By following all these ocean safety tips, you can maximize your beach day fun every day, and enjoy your stay in beautiful Hawaii!

Photos by Robin Gotfrid.

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