It is no secret the reason why thousands of visitors come to Hawaiʻi each year. Our beautiful landscapes never fail to take your breath away. Whether it’s a fishy snorkeling adventure, a cool rainforest hike, or a swim in a bountiful waterfall, visitors aren’t lacking in adventures to seek our islands' beauty. This grandiose gorgeousness can have its perils, however. Visitors – and even locals – can be so distracted in the discovery of a new place that they fail to see the dangers that may be lurking ahead. Here is a guide for being safe when playing by streams and waterfalls, areas that may appear safe to the eye but can oftentimes be deadly. Keep reading and learn how to be akamai (smart) in order to have the safest and most memorable experience possible.
The signs are there for a reason. Read them and use caution when exploring the island.
1. Watch Your Step! Slick moss usually grows on rocks near and inside mountain streams and pools and will be extremely slippery. Always test a surface by first feeling it with your foot and then continuing to put your weight on it.
2. Look To the Mountains. Although it may be sunny and beautiful by that gorgeous waterfall, you’re about to swim next to, look up to the mountains before getting in. If it looks dark and stormy, use EXTREME caution. The torrential rainfall happening up mauka may cause a flash flood. Signs to look for: quickening water current and a loud, thundering noise coming from upstream. If you hear the boom, get out and as far away from the water source as possible.
Despite these warning signs, people still jump from waterfalls. Please adhere to the sign so as to not get hurt on your Hawai‘i vacation.
3. Don’t Jump! Although you may see some of our daring local boys (and girls!) jumping from precipitous ledges or bridges, do not attempt to do so yourself! I personally know a few friends who have had severe injuries from cliff jumping. Save your daredevil spirit for skydiving or shark caging, and just sit back and watch the show instead.
4. Be Aware of Landslides. Streams are extremely eroding, altering the landscape by carving breathtaking valleys and gullies. If you’re walking by these areas, be aware of landslides and falling rocks as the landscape is very unstable. When in doubt, turn around!
5. Follow All Posted Signs. Signs are there for a reason – to keep you safe. Heed all warning signs, and if your destination is closed, don’t risk it.
6. Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is an infectious, bacterial disease that wild animals, such as pigs or mongoose can carry. When they urinate in or near water sources, that area becomes contaminated (yuck). Unfortunately, many fresh water sources in Hawaiʻi area contaminated with leptospirosis (double yuck). Although you can still swim, it is a risk. NEVER go into a stream or pool if you have an open cut and follow all warning signs.
May 30th, 2012