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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

« Kauai's Best Beach -- 'Anini Beach | Main | Kukuiolono Golf Course, Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawaii »

Ocean Safety -- A Priority for Kauai's Beaches


Huge surf, big waves, barrels and pounders -- these Hawaiian Islands are known for some of the largest waves in the world. World Cup competitions in surfing and windsurfing are annual events; the best big wave surfers and sailors either grew up on local shores or they hone their skills in the islands. Local kids on Kauai are often placed by surfer-parents on their first surfboard when they just are old enough to walk. No wonder surf legends like Laird Hamilton and Andy Irons are the best in the world!! Their legs work better on the water than on the land!

As beautiful as these green bearded monsters can be -- huge surf can be dangerous and even deadly. A few safety tips, however, can keep malahini (newcomers) and visitors safe on Kauai's beaches. First of all -- we recommend using beaches where there are lifeguards. On Kauai these include Kekaha Beach, Salt Pond, Poipu Beach, Lydgate Park, Kealia Beach, and Hanalei Bay.

If, however, you decide to visit a beach without a life guard, then follow a couple of simple tips: if no one else is in the water then there is a reason. IF IN DOUBT -- STAY OUT! Never turn your back on the shore break.  Be especially careful of beaches that slope steeply into the ocean -- these types of slopes, coupled with even minimal shore break can be spine crunchers and neck breakers. Don't enter the water in the only spot where the waves AREN'T breaking -- this is where the RIP current lives, and it will be happy to suck you right out into deeper water.

Pay attention to the specially-designed Hawaii Ocean Safety signs. A team of water safety experts and lifeguards developed these warnings through years of experience and they are easy to understand in any language.

Kauai, and all Hawaiian Islands experience varying degrees of surf and ocean conditions depending on the season. In the winter season -- North Shores are subject to huge waves generated by winter storms and areas of low pressure in the tumultuous ocean waters between Russia and Alaska. Wave heights of 30 to 50 feet are not uncommon on North Shore reefs in winter months. And, remember that Hawaiian wave measurements denote only the height of the wave face, when the actual back of the wave is TWICE as high!! Winter swells can impact north coast from September through May.

 In summer months huge storms at sea below the equator and as far away as New Zealand generate large waves that pound Hawaii''s south shores. Generally south swells are not as large as winter North swells can be but they are still dangerous. Summer swell season runs from approximately June - October.

 Enjoy the ocean responsibly. Keep yourself and your family safe and accident free while vacationing on our spectacular beaches. We love our visitors and want everyone to be safe!!