ATTENTION: Link to this page dropped early June 2009
Beach Safety. The nature of the true hazards at Makena State Park are
virtually unknown to the public at large.
Warning: The Presence of Life Guards at Makena
State Park Masks the True Hazards at Big Beach and Little Beach making
the situation at Makena State Park more dangerous than ever!
How can this be so?
First of all the presence of the life guard towers creates the impression
that life guard functions are being performed for both Big Beach and Little
Beach. This is not the case. Only Big Beach will be provided with
life guards. The life guards are adamant in not providing services of any
kind to Little Beach. They will not come over the hill and post warning
signs or even check in periodically to see how things are going.
In 1994 the three lifeguards covered both Big Beach and Little Beach!
Note: It is a fact that one third of the 526 thousand annual visitors to
Makena State Park are there to enjoy the ambiance of Little Beach. In the
last four years all but one of the fatalities of which I am aware occurred
on Little Beach. The park visitor to Little Beach is deceived. All walk
by the first tower and the North end of Big Beach and can see warning signs
if posted. On climbing the hill over to Little Beach is a sign that states
no life guard present. Although conditions on Little Beach might warrant
a warning sign there will not be one!
Second: With Life Guards in place data on injuries at Makena State Park
will essentially be not available! Life guards have refused to make information
available regarding injuries at Makena State Park. I or anyone else will
not be able to monitor the injury rate to see if Lifeguards are making
a difference. Few will have a clue as to just how dangerous the shore break
is at Big Beach.
Third: There is nothing to suggest that there is any reason to talk with
the life guards about the danger of the shore break. Posted warning signs
are the same as at any other beach in Hawaii. Unfortunately the situation
at Big Beach is not. This has changed. Signs and announcements from the
towers are helping to increase awareness. There is no indication of the
nature and severity of injuries that occur daily. A posting of such would
Fourth: I used to walk the beach daily and now I do it less frequently.
It is a rare occurrence to see a lifeguard any where except in the towers.
I am seeing more activity here and getting favorable reports from local
users on the activity of the life guards in encouraging people to leave
There are a number of other issues that need to be addressed. I will do
so as my time permits.
NEW ISSUES POSTED JUNE 15, 2009 below
hazard to Hawksbill Turtle Nesting: When I talked with the county
about life guards in 2004 the prototype towers were the ones in use at
Kamaole Beach parks I, II and III. Wood structures built locally
for under $10,000 a piece. I was told that a temporary fiberglass
tower already on hand could be used until these were constructed. ( Such
a tower was used at Kamaole Beach II while the tower was repaired after
storm damage a couple years ago.)
The current fiberglass towers are place the lifeguard above head height.
Try talking to one from the sand. I am told each tower cost $24,000
plus $14,000 to ship from California.
There are a number of ways in which the fiberglass towers will interfere
with the nesting of Hawksbill turtles.
In 2008 six nest were put down on Big Beach. Those nest yielded over 900
turtle hatchlings. A turtle encountering the base of a tower may
be encouraged to lay her eggs at that location. Usually she would move
up and beyond the dunes before laying.
Nests in front of or along side the towers are too close to the water and
subject to wave surge. Additionally the bright color of the tower will
be perceived by the turtle as a light source. This in and of itself will
likely cause the turtle not to come into the beach.
The Hawksbill Turtle is a critically endangered species that needs our
protection. Any obstruction which interferes with this proven nesting site
needs to be remove immediately. The turtle nesting season is upon us as
of early June!!!!
Update: 2008 saw six Hawksbill turtle nest
placed on Big Beach at Makena. Over 900 successful hatches were noted.
Three of the nest were put down in the month of June. June 7, 2008, June
16, 2008 and June 30, 2008. Nest lay down interval suggest that two different
turtles involved. June 2009 there have been no reports of turtle activity.
The most effective potential fix is to remove the yellow towers for the
next couple of months until the nest season is over.
Please advise by email,firstname.lastname@example.org
, if you know of injuries at Makena State Park Data sought is date,
time, location, sex, age, nature of injuries
Attention virtually no information is available
on injuries at Makena State Park after May 1, 2009. Three Neck/back compression
a month is probably a reasonable number to expect.
Some of the events that I am familiar with are listed below. Keep in
mind many more occur that I am not present at or advised. People on the
scene often tell me of other incidents that they have seen which go unreported.
June 26,2009 Little Beach 40 approximate
age male pulled from surf unconscious, not breathing and no pulse at about
10:30 am Bon and others witness the man hammered by wave to North of Little
Beach. Man not responding to second wave sent men into action and immediate
recovery. Draining water and CPR beach side brought back pulse and breathing.
Arrival of paramedics and firemen with assist from local life guards prepared
man for transport to hospital. No further information available as to identity
or condition as of Sunday morning June 28, 2009. Will post when known.
It is believed that individual hit his head in the surf. Area where he
was tumbled has rocks near surface throughout.
June 25, 2009 Big Beach, 22 year old female tourist neck compression. About
June 24-26,2009 Numerous saves reported by Little Beach regulars. A number
of individuals have indicated even hand written sign or other warning would
do much. The conditions causing the problems are well known to locals who
work constantly to minimize hazard to others. Told again that life guards
rebuffed request for warning flags. (Apparently don't have any they can
June 10, 2009 Little Beach 50 year old male severe leg laceration (assisted
by people on scene, no life guard involvement.)
June 7, 2009 1:30 Big Beach I 20 year old male neck compression
May 22, 2009 6 pm Big Beach 46 year old male broke tibia in three
April 30, 2009 10:30 am Big Beach II 35 year old female back compression
April 29, 2009 3:00 pm Big Beach I 43 year old female broken ankle
April 19, 2009 2:15 pm Big Beach I 66 year old female dislocated shoulder
March 17, 2009 1:00 pm Little Beach 36 year old male torn tendon ankle
February 20, 2009 2 pm Big Beach male left leg tibial plateau
February 12, 2009 11 am 55 female sprained hand surf Big Beach
February 11, 2009 about noon Big Beach 60 year old male head and neck compression
December 12, 2008 10:30 30 year old male pulled from water LB
November 8, 2008 3 pm swimmer waving at friend mistaken for distress and
November 4, 2008 10:15 40 to 50 year old male neck compression
October 22, 2008 11:06 Little Beach 66 year old male possible stroke
October 21, 2008 3 pm 26 year old male hit in face by surfboard
October 19, 2008 12:30 42 year old male broken ankle
September 26, 2008 3 pm 30 year old female dislocated shoulder
September 19, 2008 1:20 64 year old male sprained ankle
September 19, 2008 1:10 58 year old male sprained knee
September 15, 2008 1:30 23 year old male dislocated shoulder
August 29, 2008 1:48 25 year old male dislocated shoulder
August 17, 2008 4:30 18 year old male broken ankle
August 17, 2008 3:20 52 year old male neck compression
July 28, 2008 2:30 59 year old male dislocated shoulder
July 28, 2008 2 pm 79 year old male dislocated hip airlifted from Little
July 21, 2008 3pm 16 year old female shoulder, back and neck compression.
July 18, 2008 1:36 50 year old male neck compression
July 18, 2008 10 am four (4) year old female, near drowning, aspirated
water? information from man who grabbed the child. The family dealt with
the incident. Life guards would have known the serious danger of the aspirated
water and suggested the taking of this child to hospital.
July 15 2008 2:45 middle age male neck compression
July 15 2008 10:30 40 plus old male broken nose
July 5, 2008 10:30 48 year old male neck compression
July 5, 2008 12:40 13 year old male back/neck compression
July 5, 2008 12:45 20 female pulled hamstring
June 14, 2008 about noon 24 year old male dislocated shoulder
June 7, 2008 2:20 pm 65 year old male back and neck compression
May 18, 2008 4:30 pm 60 year old male sprained shoulder
May 18, 2008 11:20 am 25 year old female, seizure Big Beach
May 1, 2008 about 1pm 53 year old Gene Ward drowned Makena State Park snorkeling
off point. A guarded beach would have been posted.
April 16, 2008 9:30 Big Beach 51 female dislocated knee
April 16, 2008 1:30 Big Beach 19 year old female broken femur
April 11, 2008 50 year old male 1:30 sprained or broken ankle left private
March 28, 2008 4:30
fire rescue respond to "person on the rocks Makena" find middle age male
dislocated knee in surf pulled out by people on beach. Man who called it
in did not know correct place name and had bad cell phone connection. Injured
man left before the arrival of fire rescue. (Life guards could have handled
March 23, 2008 12 year old female possible broken ankle about 2 pm
March 21, 2008 about 4:30 two boys appear in distress trigger 911 call.
Firemen come. Boys on shore and no problem. (Life guards could have handled
March 17, 2008 1:00 45 year old female shoulder compression and scrape
March 15, 2008 12:30 27 year old male sprained/broken? ankle Big Beach
1 left by private auto.
March 14, 2008 about 1pm met Andrew who tells me of breaking both leg bones
in March 21, 2000 skim boarding. Leg is slightly bent to this day.
March 12, 2008 11 am
78 year old male broken ankle. Big Beach 1
February 27, 2008 4 pm 68 year old male neck and shoulder compression.
Big Beach 1
February 26, 2008 11:30
am 27 year old female neck compression Big Beach 1
February 24, 2008
11 am drowning at Little Beach, 59 year Dan Rawlins caught in rip current.
For more information on Dan hit this link.
23, 2008 4:00 pm Little Beach 9 year old female neck compression injury
collision with body surfing adult male (Ed Note: Girl back on beach next
day appeared to be functioning 100%)
February 21, 2008 Email reference Jan 16, 2008 Dr. Leisure,
I found your site after having an accident on Big Beach when we were vacationing
in January. I am the woman you listed on Jan 16 with the neck
compression. (although I'm 35 not 25) :) I just thought I would
e-mail to say I'm glad you have this site. I can't believe
all the accidents that have happened there and am shocked that nothing
is being done about it. I would like to help if I can- let me know
how. My husband and I were on vacation for our 13th wedding
anniversary with my parents and to say the least.... this put quite a damper
on it. Although I came home still walking (luckily)-every
day I think of what could have been. It's been a month now and I'm
still recuperating- still having problems with my neck and back and nerve
damage in my right arm and both hands. I had to take
a couple weeks off work and still can't do some things at work. I'm in
physical therapy, and seeing a chiropractor/neurologist currently. Honestly,
I had no idea what a shore break was and didn't know anything about
that beach. I feel like I had no knowledge of how dangerous it was.
The day before"it" happened was the first time I've ever boogie boarded
at all. ( at wailea beach) it was a lot of fun so I tried it again
when we went to big beach the next day. I was in the water
for all of 10 minutes when I took a nose dive into the shoreline.
I wish someone could have warned me for how stupid it was that I was doing
this but of course no one did. At the hospital is where everyone
said what a terrible beach it was and there are no signs or
at least not good ones. Now I'm getting all the medical bills.....
I hope you e-mail me back to let me know your progress. Thanks
for listening! J S
February 15, 2008 12:30 12 year old male broken arm
February 14, 2008 5:30 pm 20 year old male sea urchin spines into foot
February 11, 2008 3:35
pm 53 year old male back compression
February 4, 2008 Letter to Governor Linda Lingle requesting her help in
getting the life guards to Makena. For letter
see this link.
January 22, 2008 1 pm three swimmers appear in distress. Life Guards,
fire , police and ambulance respond. Got in on their own. No problems.
January 16, 2008 12:15pm 25 year old female neck compression
January 13, 2008
is the four year anniversary of the 2004 drowning of Richard McKeon Young.
Richard's death prompted Dr. Leisure and others to make a concerted effort
to bring lifeguards to Makena State Park. Funding for that purpose was
approved and has been available since July 1, 2007. Recent talks with county
and state officials suggest that we are no closer to having lifeguards
than we were in 2004. There have been other deaths and numerous injuries
many of which could have been prevented by the presence of lifeguards.
See this link for the names of state
officials if you wish to write a letter in support of lifeguards at Makena.
January 13, 2008 by email: Dear Dr. Leisure, On January 13th I was at Big
Beach body surfing. I did not know the proper way and swam straight over
the wave I ended up getting flipped around in the surf and my back was
twisted around quite badly. I have not had any severe pain/symptoms and
I was able to go about the rest of my trip quite normally, however I have
had prolonged discomfort around the lower middle part of my spine. After
reading your website I am realizing that I may have been fairly lucky.
Regards and good luck with your efforts, Dustin, Canada
January 11, 2008 12 noon 22 year old male fractured ribs Big Beach
January 9, 2008 by email: Hi Dr. Leisure, I just got back from my
honeymoon in Maui and checked out your website after seeing your van in
the parking lot. Last Wednesday, Jan 9 at 12:45 pm I fractured my
ankle in 2 places just standing waist deep in the water at Big Beach.
A wave came over the top of my head and slammed me into the sand.
I should have heeded your warnings! I guess I am one of those tourists
that really didn't understand the concept of "Shore Break." Just
wanted to let you know -- more fuel for the cause -- 30 year old
female. all the best, D
January 7, 2008 1:00 pm 13 year old male broken ankle Big Beach.
January 6, 2008 12:30 61 year old male dislocated shoulder Little Beach.
December 24, 2007 4:15 11 year old male with back injury. Transported to
December 20, 2007 Missing swimmer reported. Fire rescue responds 4:30.
Has turned up. Another function usually handled by life guards.
November 16, 2007
4:30 twenty plus year old male broken arm.
November 9, 2007
2:30 61 year old female neck compression BBII area.
November 2, 2007 1:30 62 year old female sprained ankle BBI area
November 2, 2007 1:30 62 year old female fractured ankle BBI area
( yes these are two seperate incidents, left by private auto.)
11:00 am 60 year old male dislocated ankle BB II area
October 28, 2007 1:00 pm 61 year old male neck compression BB I area
October 17, 2007 2 pm 50 year old male dislocated shoulder
September 23, 2007 2:00
pm 27 year old male concussion neck compression Big Beach 1 area
September 20, 2007 10:00
am 71 year old female dislocated hip Big Beach 1 area.
September 1, 2007 3:00
pm 57 year old female with knee dislocation Big Beach 1 area.
August 16, 2007 11:00 am 7 year old male with neck compression
July 30, 2007 10:45 am 35 year old male neck compression Big Beach I area
July 29, 2007 3:45 pm 32 year old female face abrasion and
possible neck compression. Big Beach I area.
July 29, 2007 11:45
am 71 year old male neck compression Big Beach I
July 29, 2007 11:30
am 31 year old female shoulder compression Big Beach I
July 28, 2007 11:45 am
28 year old male possible broken ankle in Big Beach I . Funding
for Lifeguards available July 1, 2007! Where are they?
July 26, 2007 11:30
am 26 year old female tumbled in surf broken ribs. Big Beach II area.
July 21, 2007 1:00 pm
15 year old male broken collar bone. Big Beach II area. Riding boogie board.
days since funding available and still no lifeguards!
July 17, 2007 3:30 47
year old male back compression knocked off board. Big Beach 1.
July 16, 2007 2:00 13 year old male collar bone.
July 16, 2007
11:30 22 year old female dislocated shoulder, tourist boarding Big
12, 2007 3:30 pm 62 year old male broken ankle Little Beach
July 8, 2007 4:30 pm 25 year old male broken ankle Big Beach 2 area.
July 6,2007 2:36 pm
56 year old male neck and back compression, aspirated sea water Big Beach
July 6, 2007 12:30
28 year old male dislocated shoulder at Big Beach 1.
July 4, 2007
Jerry Orban saves two males and one female at Little Beach. He is smiling
because he had new fins. Thanks Jerry! (Editors Note: Most saves like these
go unreported, I hope to gather more information on these occurrences and
report them here. )
July 4, 2007 3:30
pm 25 year old male dislocated shoulder. Big Beach 1
July 4, 2007 3 pm 8
year old female. Possible neck compression. Big Beach 2.
July 3, 2007, 12 noon 57 year old female tumbled in surf and face cut open
by eye. Husband took to hospital.
July 3, 2007 10:50 call DLNR hotline and advise of dangerous high surf.
Ask for assistance. Person answering the DLNR hotline thought my request
for some DLNR personnel on the beach was laughable. Suggest I talk with
park superintendent Phil Ohta.
July 2, 2007, 3:00 pm,
48 year old male tumbled on boogie board. Neck and back compression. Tourist
not knowledgeable about dangerous shore break.
July 2, 2007 no life guards present, Department of Land and Natural Resources
advised of heavy surf about 11:11 and need for assistance. Person answer
phone said will pass on to supervisor. Learned later that
about 10 am young woman broken arm
July 1, 2007 no life guards present. Funds are available
to employ lifeguards effective this date. Whether they (the lifeguards)
will materialize is another matter. Heavy surf. No injuries of which I
Board The place to post your comments on the lifeguard issue.
June 29, 2007 41 year
old female possible neck compression Big Beach about 10:45 am.
June 22, 2007 47
year old female leg sprain surf LB.
June16, 2007 about
1:15. 47 year old male, near drowning took in sea water attempting
to assist son, Big Beach Note use of four wheel all terrain vehicle.
June 16, 2007 48
year old male, neck compression injury surf Big Beach about 12:30
May 26, 2007 9:34 am
40 year old male neck injury in surf Big Beach 1 area.
May 25, 2007 2:20 pm 50
year old female takes tumble in surf Big Beach I area. Possible neck injury.
Fire and Ambulance respond.
May 24, 2007 11:23 am 23 year old male breaks foot in surf vicinity
of Big Beach 1. Friends take to hospital in rental car.
May 22, 2007 2:30pm
34 year old male knee torn up in surf. Big Beach 1 area.
May 22, 2007 1
pm 53 year old female ankle sprain possible break Big Beach 1 area of Big
May 19, 2007 3:52
pm 32 year old female with shoulder possible neck injury at Big Beach 1
May 5, 2007 1:44 PM
Fifty-six year old female. Dislocated knee in surf Note photograph shows
the emergency crews working in traffic lane rather than in emergency access
lane taken up by vendor. Lane also functions as the handicapped access
lane when not blocked by vendor.
May 5, 2007 11:14
AM Twenty-nine year old male. Legs folded back in surf body boarding accident.
Big Beach 1 area.
2007 11 AM Twenty-one year old male. Broken femur done in the surf body
boarding. Big Beach 1 area. Heavy surf.
April 22, 2007
8:30 AM seventy-four year old male. Broken ankle.
2007 Saturday 12:33 PM Forty year old female breaks ankle in surf Big Beach
April 21, 2007 Saturday 8:33 AM Thirty-four year old male jogging gashes
leg on brush. There are no established trails in Makena State Park
April 15, 2007
Sunday 11 AM Sixty-seven year old male apparently fell face down on lava
rock in Black Sand Beach. Serious abrasions to face. Had to walk out to
highway because roadway closed since October 15, 2006 for no discernible
reason. Found in dazed condition on the highway by tourist who offered
2007 Friday 11:15 AM Forty three year old male compression fracture to
neck. Surf Big Beach one.
April 7, 2007
Saturday 4:30 PM Seventy plus female possible broken leg caught by wave
Big Beach two entrance.
April 6, 2007 Friday 1:15 PM Sixty three year old female broken knee. Big
Beach one entrance.
March 22, 2007 Thursday 11:00 AM Twelve year old female with broken
ankle. Big Beach one entrance.
February 17, 2007 Saturday 2:00 Forty six year old male spinal compression.
Tossed by wave head first. Big Beach third entrance.
September 3, 2006 Sunday 2:30 Local teen flipped on head while skim
boarding. Spinal compression. Big Beach
September 2, 2006 Saturday 3:30 Twenty two year old male dislocates arm
at elbow Big Beach.
August 27, 2006 Sunday afternoon Fire rescue for two washed on rocks at
Little Beach. Rescued by locals before arrival.
August 26, 2006 Saturday mid day young teenager wrenches leg in surf of
August 3, 2006 Thursday 11:30 54 year old male slammed into sand from board,
neck and back compression, Big Beach
July 29, 2006 Saturday 2 pm neck break, Big Beach
June 19, 2006 Monday 1 PM 17 year old local boy abdominal pain after being
smashed in surf, Big Beach
June 18, 2006 Sunday 5 PM broken ankle, Big Beach
June 11, 2006 Sunday 5 PM jelly fish stings requires ambulance, Little
May 28, 2006 Sunday about 4:30 sixty year old male dislocated shoulder
April 15, 2006 Saturday woman reports having spent seven days in hospital
over leg infection attributed to sand at Little Beach
March 21, 2006 Tuesday meet young man and father, son broke collar bone
at Big Beach March 16.
March 20, 2006 Monday encounter 25 year old male carrying arm as if dislocated.
Advised that tourist has called 911. Tourist relates that he told dispatcher
that beach was end of unimproved road. Listening to scanner found crew
was on another beach and not being haled. I called 911 with corrected information.
Big Beach .
January 17, 2006 Tuesday middle age male with serious spinal column injury,
helicopter waved off and patient taken by ambulance. Big Beach
January 5, 2006 Sixty year old grandmother hairline crack below knee and
small bone in wrist at Big Beach
January 1, 2006 49 year old male back compression injury. Individual would
like information on how to sue the state. Warning signs grossly inadequate.
December 31. 2005 26 year old female knee sprain.
The first response for assistance comes from fellow beach users.
Calls for assistance to DLNR are relayed to 911. A call to 911 will result
in the dispatching of fire rescue, ambulance and police. DLNR will also
respond if they hear the dispatching of the others. A ride to the hospital
by ambulance is $500 plus depending on services provided.
Life Guards would do far more good in responding to public safety concerns
at Makena State Park than arbitrarily changing park hours. In 2005
the entire legislature was in support of having life guards at Makena State
Park yet in 2006 they are still not present and no effort has been made
by state park officials to bring that about. Other issues: Handicapped
facilities required by ADA are either totally lacking or in such a state
of repair that they are unusable. A lunch wagon vendor is parked between
the handicapped parking of Big Beach 1 lot and the entrance to the beach
walkway. There is no handicapped toilet within the park at any location.
(This changed in mid August with a handicapped toilet being installed at
Big Beach I parking lot after being missing for six years. Handicapped
toilets still do not exist at any other location in the park.)
Contacts: Stewards of Makena
Friends of Makena State Park
Friends of Makena State Park was formally formed in 2003 to assist
the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources in the stewardship
of Makena State Park.
Membership is open to anyone interested in the stewardship of
the unique natural resource that constitutes Makena State Park situated
on the island of Maui in the Hawai 'i Islands. The world famous nude beach
known as Little Beach is contiguous to Makena State Park.
To declare your membership and to receive the electronic newsletter
Dr. Leisure's Friends of Makena State Park click this link: LittleBeachMauiemail@example.com
and send a blank email.
Consider a contribution to Doctor Leisure if you want to help defray
the cost of this site and the efforts to obtain lifeguards. Enter the amount
you wish to contribute. I would rather see a lot of small donation $25
or less. If you want to send more sizable please make check payable to
Church and School of International Detente and submit to PO Box 1137, Kihei,
HI 96753-1137 The Church is tax exempt under State and Federal law. Aloha
for your support.
Dr. Leisure's Friends of Makena State Park
PO Box 1137
Kihei, HI 96753
George R. Harker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
may be reproduced with appropriate credit: drleisure.com
2008, Dr. Leisure
2008 Dr. Leisure. All rights reserved.