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First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

PA
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First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

Hi everyone,

I will be visiting Kauai with my husband for the first time in a week. I have many questions about peoples experiences so I'll just go through them as they come to mind:) First, I'm wondering about the beaches and their danger factor - I looked on this website that shows ocean conditions for various kauai beaches and last I looked some of the beaches had like a 12ft surf. What does this mean exactly? I think the lowest I saw was a 2-4 ft surf - is this safe? What is the maximum surf one should venture into? I really enjoy swimming and want to be able to go into the water at beaches where water is calm. Are there any beaches in particular that have water that has very little waves like a pool? If not, any more calm beaches that people can recommend?

Second, they also warn about rip tides, etc - how does one identify one from the outside of water ? Since I'm not experienced with these things, the only thing that would probably ever deter me from water is really high waves...but from what I am reading, one should not just rely on that.

Third, which side of the island is supposed to have off limit beaches this time of year - for the first week of march (I was confused because they always say stay away from one side for the winter and the opposite for summer - but what about for the month of march?)

Lastly, the beaches that have dangerously high surf, can one still go on to the beaches and walk around safely, even if they don't plan on actually getting into the water?

Thanks for the help!!

northern california
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1. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

Just bumped up a recent thread called Swept Away at Tunnels for you. Also search for Beaches on the Kauai forum and you can read lots of general comments.

San Diego...
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2. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

best to go to the beaches with lifeguards esp this time of year. Poipu, Salt Pond, Lydgate.

Look for a flyer titled "Kauai Beach Safety guide" in the info racks by baggage claim. Has answers to many of your questions.

If there is high surf, you need to be very cautious even on the shore. We have many drownings from tourists being swept into the ocean by extra high sets coming in knocking them off the beach or a lava shelf and dragging them back into the water. 12+ waves??? fuggeaboutit. Don't go near the water.

Lately the safest place has been the south sides with 2-3 footers. March = winter = north side risky, eastside and west sides variable, south the safest. But watch the evening news or check the web for surf reports.

pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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3. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

This week the east side has been very calm and swimmable, but I'd still stick to somewhere like Kealia that has life guards and a somewhat protected swimming spot. Even calm-appearing water can be iffy for unwise swimmers.

12-foot surf is enormous. Stay away.

You should be fine on any of the south shore beaches.

santa cruz
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4. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

First off I applaud you for taking ocean conditions seriously.

Many people don't. Here in California we have a 20 ft. swell coming in and during my beach walk today I saw people letting a 4 year old play in the white water. Some people who haven't grown up near the ocean don't understand it's force.

Anyway like others have said Poipu in the south should be ok, but do check with the lifegaurds.

San Diego...
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5. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

Actually the news tonight is predicting an out of season large swell on the South side early next week. No pay attention any and everywhere.

PA
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6. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

So basically from what everyone is saying it seems as though there are only a limited number of beaches that one can actually visit. We will be there for 8 days and I was hoping we would be able to go to different ones everyday.

Kauai, Hawaii
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7. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

Kauai 1234

Great scoops from the other posters. Thankfully, you have taken personal responsibility to gain some knowledge about our ocean conditions. Good on ya !

The north shore currently is high surf conditions, and as dave mentioned, possibly sat thru monday an out of season high surf situation on the south shore.

What this means, is that mother nature can do what she wants , when she wants, and to check the surf and ocean conditions on a daily basis.

1. Check out TV morning news ( Chl 4 is pretty good)

2. Look in the Garden Island News

3. Local weather phones: (808)245-3564 and 245-6001

4. Look with your own eyes and see what is happening.

5. Pay attentiion to posted warnings.

6. Stay off the rocks, and reefs, as the waves can surprise you, and sweep you off your feet, and into a very bad situation.

7. Never turn you back on the ocean.

Dangerous currents can exist in ANY surf zone. Sometimes you can see the rips and currents, and other times you may not. ASK a lifeguard or local

Here is what happens to many who are swept away.

Large seas can sweep over the reef, filling the lagoons with water. That volume of water will exit the area between the beach and the reef with great speed as it returns back to the ocean. Bye-bye.

Look for reef openings, and also look for what you might think of as small rapids.

Also a good practice is to keep away from the reef passes.

But, you can also have currents that are not all that visible. Pretty simple, look at the surf conditions, and maybe pay attention to the phase of the moon , especially full and new.

When you first get in, you can float, not finning, and look thru your mask, at the bottom. If you are drifting, and the bottom is moving, you have current. Get Out !

For march, you can generally find safe beaches on the south shore, but if in poipu, walk up and ask the lifeguard. They will be more than happy to help you .

Yes, you can stay well up on the sand, without any problem, GENERALLY, but a rouge wave, highly ususual, could advance up the beach. We, personally have not had a single problem and we are at the beaches and in the water alot.

But, we check,and we pay attention, and use good sense. Many do not. Actually, most do not.

A while back, a quick story sort of like a previous poster. We were walking along the north shore beaches from Haena area on up to Ke'e. Pretty high surf, and a long shore current. It looks like white water rafting conditions running parallel to the beach. And very quickly.

Super dad, and his very young kids, walk out onto the beach, drp their gear on the sand, and he says to the little chidren..

" Lets go in and check the water temperature " Say what ? No way they should be going into that water.

And he is looked up to as the leader and trusted protector of that family.

Same day, near ke'e, I saw a couple getting ready to go snorkeling. I stopped and talk to them about the strong currents. The guy actually said. " Well, if a lifeguard ever tells us to get out, does he really have the authority to make us leave the water "

The lifeguards from Haena Beach Park sometimes patrol along the length of the beaches, from Haena to ke'e. They now have state funding to put lifeguards at a station at ke'e.

Please remember, that the locals and the lifeguards are merely trying to keep the visitor safe. And, that is a tuff job. but, it is a fact.

Cudos to you for thinking ahead. You will be able to enjoy a day at the beach and snorkeling, just check it out before going in , on, or near the water.

Denny

Venice, Florida
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8. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

As everyone has pointed out, conditions can change rapidly. However one north shore beach that is usually very calm, especially in the morning, is Anini Beach. We have stayed there numerous times in winter and almost always experienced calm, almost "lake like" conditions, Plus it is very shallow a long way out. Anini is protected by an off shore reef which keeps most of the big waves away. But near the end of Anini Road, there is a channel through the reef and unwary snorkelers and swimmers have been pulled out into the open sea and drowned. We stay close to shore, away from the channel and have a great, safe time.

Santa Rosa...
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9. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

There is no need for you to have to become an expert in ocean and beach conditions. Just follow some simple rules of thumb. Swim where everyone else is, tourists and locals, despite the crowds. This is good for starters but is not all there is to it. Next, look for lifeguarded beaches. That's even more preferable. Avoid those ideas of finding your own stretch of beach to swim at. Yes, the allure of having a secluded beach to yourself sounds great but that doesn't mean you should swim there. This doesn't mean you can't visit places like Polihale, Secret Beach, and others. Just observe where the waves crash and stay back even farther than that, to avoid a rogue wave.

You CAN visit a different beach each day keeping these things in mind. For lifeguarded beaches try: Poipu, Salt Pond, Lydgate (? not sure)and Hanalei Beach Park (there is a lifeguarded section but March conditions can vary, north end of Kealia Beach. Other beaches that aren't lifeguarded but are good swimming beaches.....Kiahuna/Sheraton Beach (conditions can vary), Kalapaki Beach, Anini. I'm sure I've missed one or two here that others will fill in. Don't feel discouraged. You CAN safely visit a different beach each day of your trip.

Visit the website Kauaiexplorer.com for detailed information on every beach and their conditions.

Virginia Beach...
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10. Re: First time in Kauai - Beach safety questions, and more!!

Great info so far...

We have big issues with rip currents here in VA and NC. We also encountered a bad one at Tunnels.

Below is a website that explains the ins and outs of rips.

www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml