Snorkeling Drownings And Ocean Safety

| Suggest an Edit

Hawaii’s visitor-drowning rate is 13 times the national average and was nearly 10 times the rate of Hawaii residents from 2003 to 2012. Nearly one tourist dies each week while engaged in common vacation activities like swimming, snorkeling, hiking and going on scenic drives. 

Snorkeling remains by far the most common activity in drowning incidents, with 169 people drowning while snorkeling between 2007 and 2016, according to the state health department. Of those, 156 were visitors.

Solutions have remained scarce. The counties have increased their collection of data, such as what type of snorkeling equipment was worn in a drowning. There is concern that the new full-face masks entering the market may present hidden hazards.

But efforts to put more lifeguards at more beaches, particularly those known to be hazardous and increasingly popular, have fallen short. Safety warnings have been watered down as well, with the tourism industry not wanting to scare away the visitors that the state economy depends on.

Snorkeling Drownings And Ocean Safety
10 Drownings In 3 Weeks: Will Hawaii Lawmakers Boost Ocean Safety Now? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

10 Drownings In 3 Weeks: Will Hawaii Lawmakers Boost Ocean Safety Now?

The rash of deaths on Maui, predominantly visitors, has elected officials searching for solutions.

Worries Grow As UH Closes Center For Treating Sick Divers Flickr: guitarfish

Worries Grow As UH Closes Center For Treating Sick Divers

Hawaii’s only public hyperbaric treatment facility was serving about one diver per week suffering decompression sickness.

Hawaii Hotels Airing New Ocean Safety Videos For Visitors Courtesy: Real Hawaii TV

Hawaii Hotels Airing New Ocean Safety Videos For Visitors

Two years in the making, the four clips will be shown in hotel rooms on the Real Hawaii TV channel.

Hawaii Tourists Are Drowning At Nine Times The Rate Of Locals Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Hawaii Tourists Are Drowning At Nine Times The Rate Of Locals

The 92 drowning deaths in 2016 represented a slight decrease from the previous year, but was slightly above average for the decade.

Experts: Why Do So Many Hawaii Visitors Die Snorkeling? Marina Riker/Civil Beat

Experts: Why Do So Many Hawaii Visitors Die Snorkeling?

A doctor says new full-face masks are a “recipe for disaster.” He wants to measure the breathing resistance in various types of snorkeling tubes.

Save Beaches Or Property? Climate Change Will Force Tough Choices Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Save Beaches Or Property? Climate Change Will Force Tough Choices

A coastal hazard expert briefs Hawaii officials and others about the need to adapt to rising sea levels and warmer temperatures.

Counties Threaten To Pull Lifeguards Over Fear Of Lawsuits Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Counties Threaten To Pull Lifeguards Over Fear Of Lawsuits

The Legislature is debating whether to extend limited liability protections for lifeguards over the objections of a group of personal injury lawyers.

Maui’s Decision On Lifeguard Pay Raises May Scuttle A Statewide Deal Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Maui’s Decision On Lifeguard Pay Raises May Scuttle A Statewide Deal

UPDATED: Pay increases for hundreds of public safety workers have been approved by the Legislature and every other county.
Three Visitors Die In One Week Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Three Visitors Die In One Week

The drowning of an Australia man marked the third tourist death in three days.
How To Save Lives Without Scaring Tourists Away Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How To Save Lives Without Scaring Tourists Away

Ocean safety experts, tourism officials, lawmakers and families who have lost loved ones have definite ideas about keeping visitors safe in Hawaii.
WATCH: This Video Could Help Save You Or Someone You Love Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

WATCH: This Video Could Help Save You Or Someone You Love

This short video has valuable advice on how to survive a Hawaii vacation or even a day at the beach.
The Tyler Madoff Story: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare Flickr: apasciuto

The Tyler Madoff Story: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

The death of a 15-year-old boy from New York highlights the need for tour operators to follow state rules.