From crashing waves and insidious tide pools to deadly waterfalls and extreme hiking trails, the Hawaiian Islands are not only home to stunning natural beauty, but also grave danger. While some of these 14 spots are illegal and closed to the public, others remain as popular tourist spots with a bad reputation.
1. Kipu Falls
Located in east Kauai, it’s hard to deny that Kipu Falls is gorgeous, but we urge you to stay away. Five deaths within five years prompted a campaign to close the falls, increase signage and construct barriers. Not only will trespassers be prosecuted or fined, but they might also end up dead.
2. Sandy Beach
Near Oahu’s southeastern tip is Sandy’s, as the locals like to call it, a beach with year-round crushing shore break. It’s a favorite spot for surfers, but many tourists and wanna-be bodysurfers have walked away with sprains, neck compressions, and broken bones.
3. Nakalele Point Blowhole
Located on Maui’s northeastern coast is the Nakalele Point Blowhole, a stunning display of water shooting nearly 100 feet in the air. Due to its geyser-like attributes and unpredictable conditions based on the tides, standing too close to the blowhole could be deadly.
4. South Point
The southernmost point of the United States may be a phenomenal photo opportunity, but strong offshore currents, high winds, and crashing waves make this spot too dangerous for getting in the water.
5. Kalalau Trail
Narrow trails, heavy rains, mudslides, rising water levels and falling rocks combine to make the secluded 11-mile Kalalau Trail one of the most risky hikes in Hawaii. With portions of the rocky trail elevated more than 500 feet from the shore, one misstep could be deadly for anyone brave enough to take on this Kauai trail.
6. Olivine Pools
These often picturesque tide pools have been the site of various injuries, including several drownings, most likely due to rogue waves washing over the lava shelf, or people slipping on the difficult path required to reach the pools.
7. Hanauma Bay
This popular tourist attraction in East Oahu is a hotspot for drownings due to a combination of factors. A false sense of security is created from the mostly closed-off bay, but ocean currents and inexperienced swimmers make this a deadly spot – despite the fact that it is one of the most heavily lifeguarded spots on the island.
8. Sacred Falls
In 1999, on Mother’s Day, a massive rockslide killed eight hikers and injured 50 others. Perhaps one of Hawaii’s worst outdoor accidents, the trail has been shut down ever since.
9. Queen’s Bath
This idyllic tide pool was once a bathing spot for Hawaiian royalty – but that doesn’t mean it is void of all negativity. With rough waters, sharp rocks and ever-changing ocean conditions, this Kauai gem is an accident or drowning waiting to happen.
10. Lumahai Beach
The stunning turquoise waters and pristine sand might make this beach picturesque, but slippery rock ledges and huge winter waves make Lumahai Beach quite the hazardous spot. Some have even started calling the beach “Luma-die.”
11. Haiku Stairs
Nicknamed the “Stairway to Heaven,” this steep, difficult hike is not only illegal, but damaged portions of the stairs and hikers who don’t necessarily know their limits make this one of the most deadly hikes in Hawaii.
12. Saddle Road
Combine vision-obscuring fog, rough and narrow roads, marginally maintained pavement and several one-lane bridges and you’ve got the old Saddle Road, traversing the Big Island from Waimea to Hilo. While most of the road has been repaved in the last twenty years, Hawaii Route 200 still has a dangerous reputation.
13. Makena Beach
Also known as “breakneck beach,” the surf breaks right on the shore, making this an extremely dangerous beach for swimming. Oh, and if the dangerous surf breaks aren’t enough to deter you from entering the water, Makena Beach is considered one of the world’s most deadly beaches for shark attacks.
14. Olomana Three Peaks Trail
The steep cliffs of the Olomana Trail look ominous and can be deadly for hikers who stray from the designated path, getting lost, stranded, and injured.
While we understand that many of these spots seem enticing, visitors and locals alike should heed warning signs, and avoid taking any unnecessary risks. Please be safe out there, and always make sure someone knows where you’re headed if you’re hiking, or exploring a secluded part of the islands.