Avoiding Accidents on Maui
Avoiding Accidents on Maui requires awareness of the special dangers on this semi-tropical island that may not exist back near your own home.
Knowing about these special dangers can help you avoid an accident that could mar your vacation on Maui.
Below is an alphabetical list of some but not all of the dangers on Maui:
North of Kapalua is the extraordinary Nakalele Blowhole. The blowhole, which is a popular tourist attraction, was created by pounding surf that undercut and wore away the shore below a lava shelf. Whenever a big wave surges in underneath, water is forced up through a hole in the lava shelf, resulting in an eruption of water similar to a geyser. The blowing of water varies, depending on tide and waves. High tide and strong surf result in the highest geysers.
Just don't get too close. Be extremely careful of accidents around the blowhole because eruptions are unpredictable and dangerous. Never sit on, touch or get close to the blowhole or the erupting water. One man sitting with his lower legs dangling into the hole was blown onto his back and had his neck broken. In another accident, a man standing between the blowhole and the ocean was struck in the back by a big wave surging over the top of the lava shelf and knocked into the blowhole, where he briefly came up to the surface before tragically disappearing again when the next wave hit.
Maui has no snakes and few insects that can harm you, except for the centipede, which has two stingers in its tail and can inflict a painful wound, if you happen to step on one at night in the dark.
Cliffs are a danger on Maui wherever roadways have been cut into the sides of the mountains high above the ocean, and require caution while driving or walking along the edge of a cliff.
Coconuts and palm fronds ten feet long can be blown out of palm trees by high winds on Maui. Hotels regularly cut coconuts and palm fronds out of their palm trees to prevent them falling on unwary tourists. But in many other locations where they are not regularly trimmed, be aware of this possible danger from above during high winds.
Rainstorms on Maui can result in flooding streams. Be advised not to try to cross rising streams on foot -- or in your car at dips in the road where streams flow across roads.
Never turn your back to the ocean -- when you are at the beach or on a rocky shoreline -- because of the danger that a sudden high wave may suddenly surge up that is much higher than the prevailing waves. Beach-goers have been smashed in the back and knocked down by these high rogue waves -- and tourists standing on rocks on the shoreline have been knocked into the water and drowned because they were unable to get back ashore among the surging waves battering a rocky coastline. Never turn your back to the ocean is a rule that locals are always aware of and constantly live by.
Highway accidents are an increased risk on Maui for several reasons:
Few Highways: Maui has very few highways, usually with just one road to get to any destination -- and as a result these few highways are crowded with traffic most of the time.
Two Lane Highways: Most highways on Maui are two lane and therefore dangerous -- and there are very few safer four lane highways on Maui.
One Lane Highways: A few older roads on Maui are one lane. Some highways on Maui have stretches of that narrow down to one lane. The famous road to Hana narrows down to one lane in numerous spots where it crosses old one lane bridges, having approaches marked with stops to wait for oncoming traffic to clear each one lane bridge. The alternate Hana road around the dry southern side which some people take returning from Hana has several one lane stretches cut into cliffs above the ocean, and is not recommended for tourists for that reason. Another road north of Kapalua Resort to Kahului also has several long one lane stretches cut into cliffs near the hamlet of Kahakuloa, and is not recommended for tourists for that reason.
Curving Roads: Curves are numerous and dangerous on Maui highways where they wind around cliffs above the ocean. The road to Hana has 600 curves, which make driving there dangerous. The highway to Lahaina has many curves in one section around the Pali (meaning cliffs). The road to the top of Haleakala has many curves in the section that ascends the mountain toward the National Park at the summit.
Tourist Drivers: Maui highways are filled tourist drivers who are unfamiliar with these roads -- and many drive with one eye on the scenery, often at slower speeds, stopping unpredictably to look at whales or pull off near beaches. This can cause problems, especially when other drivers are locals who just want to get where they’re going at normal speeds.
Any new cut in your skin that you get must be treated with anti-biotic cream before going to bed that night -- especially any cut that begins to hurt -- because of the frequent infections of cuts in this semi-tropical climate.
Shark attacks on Maui are rare, but they do happen occasionally. Tourists are advised to avoid swimming at dusk or dawn when sharks tend to feed. Beaches behind a reef tend to be safer, such as Kahana beach and Lahaina beach, because the reefs act as a barrier between the shallow water near the beach and the deeper water beyond the reef where any sharks are more likely to be.
When you are newly arrived on Maui, it is best to avoid prolonged sun-tanning when this semi-tropical sun is strongest between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM. The rays of the sun are weaker before 10 AM and after 3 PM, so those are the times to begin to suntan when you first arrive on Maui.
Winds on Maui can be very strong. Prevailing winds on Maui beaches usually blow offshore from the land to the ocean in certain areas like from Kanapali to Kapalua, and from Maalaea to Kihei and Wailea. These strong winds on Maui beaches can be dangerous for tourists who rent a paddleboard, windsurfer, kayak, or catamaran -- because these strong winds that blow from the shore to the ocean can blow watercraft away from the beach farther and farther out into the open ocean, requiring rescue, which depends on someone on shore seeing that you are in trouble and having the means to rescue you.
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