Kauai is an incredibly beautiful island created and shaped by powerful forces. But this island paradise can also be incredibly dangerous if you’re not careful. Some of the same powerful forces that shaped the island are still at play.
Powerful waves, rip currents, and other beach and ocean hazards continue to kill numerous people on the island each year. Some Kauai beaches are notorious for taking lives, such as Hanakapiai Beach which has an infamous sign at its entrance with the alleged number of people killed (photo above).
While no one really knows if those numbers are exactly correct, Geoscientist Chuck Blay has compiled a list of Kauai’s deadliest beaches from 1970 to 2012. His findings are chilling. There were 316 drownings during that time period, and virtually no beach was spared a fatality.
While Hanakapiai was indeed near the top of the list, as well as Lumahai (which is also known locally as Lumadie), it was the popular Poipu area that had the most drownings. Queen’s Bath, also a notorious danger spot, was farther down the list but we suspect it is still one of the island’s top places for injuries.
Overall, the North Coast had the most drownings (148) followed by the East Coast (98) and South Coast (70).
Kauai’s Deadliest Beaches By The Number
- 1. Poipu Area (41)
- 2. Hanakapiai (29)
- 3. Wailua/Lydgate (24)
- 4. Lumahai (23)
- 5. Kapaa/Waioli (19)
- 6. Polihale (17)
- 7. Haena (16)
- 7. Kealia (16)
- 8. Kalapaki/Nawiliwili (11)
- 8. Anini (11)
- 8. Larsen’s (11)
- 9. Anahola (7)
- 9. Kalalau/Honopu (7)
- 9. Queen’s Bath (7)
Popular Poipu beaches are the island’s deadliest. Powerful rip currents, especially near Nukumoi Point (the sandbar at Poipu Beach), are sometimes present at Poipu beaches and have pulled even the best swimmers out.
Another factor we have noticed is that some fatalities have been the result of older people with medical conditions who had a medical emergency during a swim (such as a heart attack or stroke caused by exertion).
Always swim with at least one other person, especially if you have a medical condition that could cause an issue during an outing in the water.
The mouth of the Lumahai River at Lumahai Beach has been the site of several drownings, including the well-publicized drowning of ABC News doctor Jamie Zimmerman.