Despite its reputation, Hanauma Bay waters can prove dangerous

Despite its reputation, Hanauma Bay waters can prove dangerous
Published: Apr. 6, 2017 at 9:37 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2017 at 1:35 AM HST
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HANAUMA BAY, OAHU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - Despite its reputation as a safe snorkeling spot, Hanauma Bay is actually one of Hawaii's deadliest beaches.

The most recent incident happened Wednesday evening, just before lifeguards we're heading home around 5:30 p.m.

According to emergency officials, a beachgoer reported a man was unconscious about 200 yards offshore. A half hour later, lifeguards found a woman about 50 yards from shore.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii confirms the two were visiting from China.

The pair, both in their 20s, were traveling together. However, their relationship is unclear and their identities have not yet been released.

Ocean Safety officials say part of the reason why there are so many drownings at Hanauma Bay is because there are so many visitors.

"More than 1.5 million visit Hanauma Bay every year," said Honolulu Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright. "Thousands of people come to the bay every day. It's tragic when we have a drowning."

According to Emergency Medical Services, Hanauma Bay got about 1.1 million visitors in 2013, and one drowning.

There were five drownings in 2014, and in 2015, 1.5 million visited the bay and there were two drownings.

Hanauma Bay also had two drownings in 2016, and some 1.6 million visitors.

The two apparent drownings Wednesday are the first of 2017.

"It's incredibly sad," said Kaydi Frost, of North Carolina. "It's definitely not something that I would have even expected given the fact that it looks like a calm, peaceful bay."

Enright said while the waters of Hanauma Bay might look calm, they can be dangerous.

"There are strong currents that you just can't see and you don't know about," Enright said. "You're not aware of until you get in it and by that time it may be too late."

Everyone who visits the bay is required to see an educational video before entering the water.

But some feel the video could include more safety precautions.

"I think it could have been better," said Georgia visitor Justin Ok. "Like if they focused more on the current, like what to do if you're caught in a current, what to do if there's an accident or what to do in an emergency situation."

Enright said there has been discussions on putting ocean safety videos on airplanes flying into Hawaii, at airports, or in hotels.

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