Officials with the Ocean Safety Bureau have installed a safety map guide at the gate entry at Queen’s Bath in Princeville, Kauai. Ocean Safety Bureau Chief Kalani Vierra, in a press release, stated:
“We are being proactive on education and supplying valuable lifesaving information about the Waimaumau area (Queen’s Bath). With the partnership from the Kauai Lifeguard Association, Kauai Fire Department, and Ocean Safety Bureau, we are very hopeful that the information provided will save lives.”
Queen’s Bath is a popular tide pool on Kauai’s North Shore that is renowned for its unique beauty and notorious for serious injuries and deaths. The tide pool, a sinkhole surrounded by sharp igneous rock, is serene and peaceful during low tide and calm seas (particularly in the summer months). However, rogue (sleeper) waves can strike the pool at any time, throwing visitors against and across the rocks. Some victims have been swept out to sea and pummeled on the rocky coastline in crashing waves. During winter months, the pool will disappear under turbulent waters and should be avoided entirely. Approximately 30 people have died at Queen’s Bath. One of the latest deaths occurred in 2018 when a 23-year-old woman from California was swept out to sea. Her body was never found.
Moreover, the coastline’s rocky ledge is also a source for injuries and mishaps. Queen’s Bath sits in an extended lava shelf that runs along the coastline in the area. The shelf, consisting of sharp and jagged igneous rock, must be crossed to reach Queen’s Bath. Cuts and scrapes from the rock are common among visitors. And, like Queen’s Bath, a number of visitors have been swept off the rocks and into the sea by crashing waves. (Also, next to Queen’s Bath, is the location of YouTube’s “Pool of Death,” a video that shows local swimmers attempting to stay afloat, and alive, in the swelling waters of a rocky inlet.)
An unofficial sign at the bottom of the trail to Queen’s Bath.
Due to the numerous and frequent injuries and deaths, Queen’s Bath has become a controversial topic. Many officials would like to see Queen’s Bath closed off entirely. Several years ago, a gate with padlock was placed at the trail head for Queen’s Bath. But the fence was absurdly short in length, and visitors just walked a few steps to the end of the fence to gain access. Apparently, tourists were to visit Queen’s Bath come “hell or high water.”
The gate was padlocked, but the fence was only three sections long!
Since visitors were visiting Queen’s Bath anyway, despite the warnings and gate, here at Kauai Travel Blog we have suggested more than a few times that a warning sign should be installed. And finally it has happened! Around the world, at potentially dangerous tourist destinations, there are signs that warn of the local dangers. There’s a warning sign at Iceland’s Reynisfjara Beach, where sleeper waves are also an issue, for example.
Detail of the Queen’s Bath sign.
The sign, which is officially called the Waimaumau Shoreline Map and Safety Guide, provides a map of the area, gives essential safety tips, shows the location of rescue tubes and illustrates the dangers of strong currents and waves on the ledge. In the event of being swept off the ledge, the sign urges visitors to stay calm and swim away from the ledge (to avoid being thrown against the rocks by crashing waves), and to tread water while waving arms and yelling for help.
A rescue tube on the rocky shelf near Queen’s Bath.
Officials with the Ocean Safety Bureau are urging visitors to be safe while visiting the island’s hidden beauties, which at times can be the most dangerous locations. For up-to-date information about Kauai ocean conditions and ocean safety, the bureau suggests speaking to a county lifeguard at any lifeguard station, visiting www.hawaiibeachsafety.com, or calling the Ocean Safety Bureau at 241-4984. (There are no lifeguards at Queen’s Bath.)