Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waves Are Thugs

The couple in this seemingly carefree photo shoot were actually ready to spring into action, knowing that waves are like thugs: never turn your back on them at the shoreline. Or at least keep a wary eye seaward.

Each year many Hawaiian vacations end when someone gets whacked by a wave. The good news: nothing to worry about, as long as you play by the rules:

1. On high-surf days particularly, don't walk along the foam line or "wet reach" of any incoming set. Sloping sand increases the hazard. In this zone, you are in the reach of a rogue wave, a common larger wave among the others.

2. Watch them. If you react before the wave breaks, you can commonly out run it.

3. On reefs, stay well back of any rocks that are wet. Stay back of cliffs and ledges.

4. Along shore walks, observe the surf from a safer distance for many minutes to determine the conditions.

5. If you get swept away by a wave, don't try to fight your way back to shore---unless you are within immediate grasp. The currents will release you offshore, and Hawaiian Watermen (lifeguards) are among the best in the world. Try to stay calm. Helicopters and jet skis are on the way.

Takeaway: No problem if you give it respect.

For more "staying safe" tips on your Hawaiian vacation, read the No Worries Hawaii guidebook.