Tips for Diving in Hawaii Part IV – Diving Safety

Are you coming to my island on vacation? There are three things I always recommend first-time visitors to do. First, take an aerial tour. Second, go to a luau. Lastly, I advise people of all ages to get in the water and snorkel. The magic of the “one-one-one, experiencing the world through the eyes of the fish” of swimming in those warm lagoons surrounded by clouds of tropical fish is an incredible, relaxing and restorative quest. experience over and over again through the years far more than many of his other travel experiences. Part I of this series discussed Snorkeling Gear; Part II of this series will discuss the Snorkeling Technique and Part III covered Snorkeling Etiquette; Part V of the series looks at snorkeling safety and Part VI will cover snorkeling spots in the Big Island Wilderness.

Now, let’s talk for a minute about snorkeling safety.

First of all, as with all ocean sports, never turn your back on the ocean. Just as important, never snorkel alone; never get more than 20 feet away from your partner. Memorize the color of your partner’s mask and snorkel … so you will recognize it from a distance in the water. Hawaiian lifeguards are full-time trained professionals; listen to their advice, heed posted warnings, always pay attention to currents, wave conditions and swells on the rocks. Plan your entry and exit before getting wet; Try to get in and out of sandy areas.

You and your partner should agree on a plan for where to get in and out of the water, what part of the bay to explore, and how long you plan to be out. Hawaii’s open ocean environment is more physically strenuous than many suspect, especially considering its seductive, yet phony, and laid-back appearance, so don’t overestimate your skills, plan conservatively, err on the safety side. Do not change this plan once you are in the water except to make it shorter and safer.

Do not face the incoming waves head-on, do not try to jump on them and do not turn your back on them; Duck under the waves before they catch up to you

All of Hawaii’s beaches and bays are directly connected to the ocean, making them more subject to winds and open ocean currents than many major landers are used to. Never snorkel on windy days. Offshore winds can unexpectedly carry you out to sea or make it difficult to swim back and land breezes collect extra water, high up on the beach creating nasty rip currents that flow back into the ocean. The breezes on land also bring jellyfish and warships.

If you are caught in a stream, don’t panic; do not swim against the current, but swim diagonally across it to shore. Keep going, you will achieve it.

Take your head out of the water frequently to check that your partner is within 20 feet of you and to keep your bearings relative to entry and exit locations. Stay Alert – It’s easy to lose track of time, get carried away further than you thought by a current you didn’t even notice, step out of your comfort zone, lazily walk away from your partner, accidentally drift into a dangerous zone. It’s easy to get too tired; find your partner and swim BEFORE you feel fatigued, thirsty, sunburned; BEFORE the wind or swell picks up. So stay focused, stay oriented, always know where you are, where your partner is.

Sunscreen that washes off the body pollutes the water and is a major factor in coral death; In Hawaii, we recommend wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap to avoid sunburn while in the water, waiting until you are out of the ocean and rinsing off to apply sunscreen.

Many things in the ocean around Hawaii sting, most commonly sea urchins; avoid, handle or step on them. White vinegar kills sea urchin bites from encrusted spines and, applied regularly, helps dissolve the spine. Other home remedies for sea urchin, jellyfish, and other stings include applying moistened tobacco, hydrogen peroxide, or urine (the latter can be difficult to self-administer and will allow you to quickly find out who your true friends are). Like wasp stings, most ocean creature stings are not medically dangerous, they are simply a painful annoyance, but it is best to be prepared with whatever remedy you choose in your beach kit. Some jellyfish stings and all battleship stings are life threatening and should be treated at the nearest hospital emergency department.

This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but of course, if you’ve been drinking even a little bit, you shouldn’t be snorkeling. Anyway, it’s best to snorkel between 9am and noon, so sobriety shouldn’t even be a problem. Correct; You’re in Hawaii on vacation, I forgot.

Don’t forget to drink a lot of water, immersion in salt water is very dehydrating and you have just worked harder and sweated more than you think. Be kind to your skin and rinse yourself and your gear with fresh water immediately after leaving the ocean and remember to put on sunscreen and wear your sunglasses. Don’t overestimate your skin’s tolerance for the beach sun; The Hawaiian sun is fierce and a nasty sunburn is agonizingly easy to acquire and will absolutely ruin your vacation. Now might be a good time to come in and freshen up, get some rest, you’re on vacation, you know?

Here are some tips on technique, etiquette and safety to keep in mind … remember to heed any advice given by lifeguards: they are seasoned professionals who know their beach intimately; Obey posted rules and watch out for tides and currents. Most of all, find a cheap $ 10 disposable underwater camera, dive into the water, and enjoy … those fish won’t photograph themselves, you know!