Makena State Park Most Dangerous Tourist Attraction on Maui

It was my intent when I started to develop this page April 2011 to post a very comprehensive summary of the injuries and other things going on at Makena State Park.

However that was not to be. I have been overwhelmed by life's events and in my case they have been most positive and enjoyable ones. It just turns out that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things which I want to do.

I am posting this page in August because I just became aware I had the link posted on my Web Site but had not posted the page. Rather than have the error message I decided to post this page in progress so readers would know what is happening.

The Most important thing to understand about Big Beach at Makena State Park is that it is not user friendly. Lifeguards sitting in towers expounding on the dangers of Big Beach does not do it. Every entry and egress from the ocean has to be done with your full attention. Your life depends on it! This is not a beach to casually frolic in the water. Any water interaction is serious business. It is not a place for children to play supervised or unsupervised in the shore break. It is not a place to stroll along the shore in the water. While there are lifeguards present and the accoutrements have the look of Kamaole Beach parks I, II and III of Kihei, this is not your typical family beach.

So take extreme care. Enter the ocean knowing that you are at high risk of breaking your neck!


Data summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time periond May 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.

Data summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010

Data Summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009

Data Summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008

Data Summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007

Data Summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006

Data Summation for injury at Makena State Park for the time period May 1, 2004 to June 30. 2005


Please advise by email,drleisure1@aol.com , 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.

  1. 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.
  2. June 25, 2009 Big Beach, 22 year old female tourist neck compression. About 1 pm.
  3. 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 spare.)
  4. June 10, 2009 Little Beach 50 year old male severe leg laceration (assisted by people on scene, no life guard involvement.)
  5. June 7, 2009 1:30 Big Beach I 20 year old male neck compression
  6. May 22, 2009 6 pm  Big Beach 46 year old male broke tibia in three places
  7. April 30, 2009 10:30 am Big Beach II 35 year old female back compression injury
  8. April 29, 2009 3:00 pm Big Beach I 43 year old female broken ankle
  9. April 19, 2009 2:15 pm Big Beach I 66 year old female dislocated shoulder
  10. March 17, 2009 1:00 pm Little Beach 36 year old male torn tendon ankle
  11. February 20, 2009 2 pm Big Beach male left leg tibial plateau
  12. February 12, 2009 11 am 55 female sprained hand surf Big Beach
  13. February 11, 2009 about noon Big Beach 60 year old male head and neck compression
  14. December 12, 2008 10:30 30 year old male pulled from water LB
  15. November 8, 2008 3 pm swimmer waving at friend mistaken for distress and 911 called
  16. November 4, 2008 10:15 40 to 50 year old male neck compression
  17. October 22, 2008 11:06 Little Beach 66 year old male possible stroke
  18. October 21, 2008 3 pm 26 year old male hit in face by surfboard
  19. October 19, 2008 12:30 42 year old male broken ankle
  20. September 26, 2008 3 pm 30 year old female dislocated shoulder
  21. September 19, 2008 1:20 64 year old male sprained ankle
  22. September 19, 2008 1:10 58 year old male sprained knee
  23. September 15, 2008 1:30 23 year old male dislocated shoulder
  24. August 29, 2008 1:48 25 year old male dislocated shoulder
  25. August 17, 2008 4:30 18 year old male broken ankle
  26. August 17, 2008 3:20 52 year old male neck compression
  27. July 28, 2008 2:30 59 year old male dislocated shoulder
  28. July 28, 2008 2 pm 79 year old male dislocated hip airlifted from Little Beach
  29. July 21, 2008 3pm 16 year old female shoulder, back and neck compression.
  30. July 18, 2008 1:36 50 year old male neck compression
  31. 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.
  32. July 15 2008 2:45 middle age male neck compression
  33. July 15 2008 10:30 40 plus old male broken nose
  34. July 5, 2008 10:30 48 year old male neck compression
  35. July 5, 2008 12:40 13 year old male back/neck compression
  36. July 5, 2008 12:45 20 female pulled hamstring
  37. June 14, 2008 about noon 24 year old male dislocated shoulder
  38. June 7, 2008 2:20 pm 65 year old male back and neck compression
  39. May 18, 2008 4:30 pm 60 year old male sprained shoulder
  40. May 18, 2008 11:20 am 25 year old female, seizure Big Beach
  41. May 1, 2008 about 1pm 53 year old Gene Ward drowned Makena State Park snorkeling off point. A guarded beach would have been posted.
  42. April 16, 2008  9:30 Big Beach 51 female dislocated knee
  43. April 16, 2008  1:30 Big Beach 19 year old female broken femur
  44. April 11, 2008 50 year old male 1:30 sprained or broken ankle left private auto
  45. 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 if present)
  46. March 23, 2008 12 year old female possible broken ankle about 2 pm
  47. 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 if present.)
  48. March 17, 2008 1:00 45 year old female shoulder compression and scrape Big Beach
  49. March 15, 2008 12:30 27 year old male sprained/broken? ankle Big Beach 1 left by private auto.
  50. 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.
  51. March 12, 2008 11 am 78 year old male broken ankle. Big Beach 1
  52. February 27, 2008 4 pm 68 year old male neck and shoulder compression. Big Beach 1
  53. February 26, 2008 11:30 am 27 year old female neck compression Big Beach 1
  54. 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.
  55. February 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%)
  56. 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
  57. February 15, 2008 12:30  12 year old male broken arm
  58. February 14, 2008 5:30 pm 20 year old male sea urchin spines into foot Little Beach
  59. February 11, 2008 3:35 pm 53 year old male back compression
  60. February 4, 2008 Letter to Governor Linda Lingle requesting her help in getting the life guards to Makena. For letter see this link.
  61. January 22, 2008  1 pm three swimmers appear in distress. Life Guards, fire , police and ambulance respond. Got in on their own. No problems.
  62. January 16, 2008 12:15pm 25 year old female neck compression
  63. 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.
  64. 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
  65. January 11, 2008 12 noon 22 year old male fractured ribs Big Beach
  66. 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
  67. January 7, 2008 1:00 pm 13 year old male broken ankle Big Beach.
  68. January 6, 2008 12:30 61 year old male dislocated shoulder Little Beach.
  69. December 24, 2007 4:15 11 year old male with back injury. Transported to hospital.
  70. December 20, 2007 Missing swimmer reported. Fire rescue responds 4:30. Has turned up. Another function usually handled by life guards.
  71. November 16, 2007  4:30 twenty plus year old male broken arm.
  72. November 9, 2007  2:30 61 year old female neck compression BBII area.
  73. November 2, 2007  1:30 62 year old female sprained ankle BBI area
  74. November 2, 2007  1:30 62 year old female fractured ankle BBI area ( yes these are two seperate incidents, left by private auto.)
  75. October28, 2007   11:00 am 60 year old male dislocated ankle BB II area
  76. October 28, 2007  1:00 pm 61 year old male neck compression BB I area
  77. October 17, 2007   2 pm 50 year old male dislocated shoulder LB
  78. September 23, 2007 2:00 pm 27 year old male concussion neck compression Big Beach 1 area
  79. September 20, 2007 10:00 am 71 year old female dislocated hip Big Beach 1 area.
  80. September 1, 2007 3:00 pm  57 year old female with knee dislocation Big Beach 1 area.
  81. August 16, 2007   11:00 am 7 year old male with neck compression injury.
  82. July 30, 2007 10:45 am 35 year old male neck compression Big Beach I area
  83. July 29, 2007   3:45 pm 32 year old female face abrasion and possible neck compression. Big Beach I area.
  84. July 29, 2007 11:45 am 71 year old male neck compression Big Beach I
  85. July 29, 2007 11:30 am 31 year old female shoulder compression Big Beach I
  86. 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?
  87. July 26, 2007 11:30 am 26 year old female tumbled in surf broken ribs. Big Beach II area.
  88. July 21, 2007 1:00 pm 15 year old male broken collar bone. Big Beach II area. Riding boogie board. Twenty-one days since funding available and still no lifeguards!
  89. July 17, 2007 3:30 47 year old male back compression knocked off board. Big Beach 1.
  90. July 16, 2007   2:00  13 year old male collar bone.
  91. July 16, 2007  11:30  22 year old female dislocated shoulder, tourist boarding Big Beach
  92.  July 12, 2007 3:30 pm 62 year old male broken ankle Little Beach
  93. July 8, 2007 4:30 pm 25 year old male broken ankle Big Beach 2 area.
  94. July 6,2007 2:36 pm 56 year old male neck and back compression, aspirated sea water Big Beach 1
  95. July 6, 2007 12:30 28 year old male dislocated shoulder at Big Beach 1.
  96. 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. )
  97.   July 4, 2007 3:30 pm  25 year old male dislocated shoulder. Big Beach 1
  98. July 4, 2007 3 pm 8 year old female. Possible neck compression. Big Beach 2.
  99. July 3, 2007, 12 noon 57 year old female tumbled in surf and face cut open by eye. Husband took to hospital.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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
  103. 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 am aware.
  104. June 29, 2007 41 year old female possible neck compression Big Beach about 10:45 am.
  105. June 22, 2007 47 year old female leg sprain surf LB.
  106. 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.
  107. June 16, 2007 48 year old male, neck compression injury surf Big Beach about 12:30
  108. May 26, 2007 9:34 am 40 year old male neck injury in surf Big Beach 1 area.
  109. 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.
  110. 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.
  111. May 22, 2007 2:30pm 34 year old male knee torn up in surf. Big Beach 1 area.
  112. May 22, 2007 1 pm 53 year old female ankle sprain possible break Big Beach 1 area of Big Beach.
  113. May 19, 2007 3:52 pm 32 year old female with shoulder possible neck injury at Big Beach 1 area.
  114. 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.
  115. May 5, 2007 11:14 AM Twenty-nine year old male. Legs folded back in surf body boarding accident. Big Beach 1 area.
  116. April 22, 2007 11 AM Twenty-one year old male. Broken femur done in the surf body boarding. Big Beach 1 area. Heavy surf.
  117. April 22, 2007 8:30 AM seventy-four year old male. Broken ankle.
  118. April 21, 2007 Saturday 12:33 PM Forty year old female breaks ankle in surf Big Beach 1.
  119. 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 
  120. 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 assistance.
  121. April 13, 2007 Friday 11:15 AM Forty three year old male compression fracture to neck. Surf Big Beach one.
  122. April 7, 2007 Saturday 4:30 PM Seventy plus female possible broken leg caught by wave Big Beach two entrance.
  123. April 6, 2007 Friday 1:15 PM Sixty three year old female broken knee. Big Beach one entrance.
  124. March 22, 2007 Thursday  11:00 AM Twelve year old female with broken ankle.  Big Beach one entrance. 
  125. February 17, 2007 Saturday 2:00 Forty six year old male spinal compression. Tossed by wave head first. Big Beach third entrance.
  126. September 3, 2006 Sunday 2:30  Local teen flipped on head while skim boarding. Spinal compression. Big Beach 
  127. September 2, 2006 Saturday 3:30 Twenty two year old male dislocates arm at elbow Big Beach. 
  128. August 27, 2006 Sunday afternoon Fire rescue for two washed on rocks at Little Beach. Rescued by locals before arrival.
  129. August 26, 2006 Saturday mid day young teenager wrenches leg in surf of Big Beach
  130. August 3, 2006 Thursday 11:30 54 year old male slammed into sand from board, neck and back compression, Big Beach
  131. July 29, 2006 Saturday 2 pm neck break, Big Beach
  132. June 19, 2006 Monday 1 PM 17 year old local boy abdominal pain after being smashed in surf, Big Beach 
  133. June 18, 2006 Sunday 5 PM broken ankle, Big Beach 
  134. June 11, 2006 Sunday 5 PM jelly fish stings requires ambulance, Little Beach
  135. May 28, 2006 Sunday about 4:30 sixty year old male dislocated shoulder Little Beach 
  136. April 15, 2006 Saturday woman reports having spent seven days in hospital over leg infection attributed to sand at Little Beach
  137. March 21, 2006 Tuesday meet young man and father, son broke collar bone at Big Beach March 16.
  138. 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 .
  139. January 17, 2006 Tuesday middle age male with serious spinal column injury, helicopter waved off and patient taken by ambulance. Big Beach
  140. January 5, 2006 Sixty year old grandmother hairline crack below knee and small bone in wrist at Big Beach
  141. January 1, 2006 49 year old male back compression injury. Individual would like information on how to sue the state. Warning signs grossly inadequate.
  142. 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.)

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 of Dr. Leisure's Friends of Makena State Park click this link: LittleBeachMaui-subscribe@topica.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

--Dr. George R. Harker can be reached by email at drleisure1@aol.com.

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Copyright 2011, Dr. Leisure

©Copyright 2011 Dr. Leisure. All rights reserved.

Dr Leisure