Many who take the plunge at Spitting Caves unprepared for water dangers
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Waves sweep into a cave carved into the cliff side below, then are blown back out at Spitting Caves in Portlock. Many come here for scenic snapshots.
“People are trying to recreate the pictures they see on social media Facebook and Instagram,” said Aka Tamashiro, Ocean Safety lifeguard.
Spitting Caves is known to be a popular place to jump into the water, and although many are willing to take the plunge, not all are prepared for the strong currents, sharp rocks, and surging waves.
“They will come down and not assess the scene, jump into the water and have no idea of what they are jumping into and have no plan on what to do when they get into the water and how they will get out of the water,” said Tamashiro.
Spitting Caves is just one danger spot along this rugged coastline.
"In the past year and a half, eight people have drowned between China Walls and the back side of Makapuu Lighthouse, and most of those drownings did not have to happen," said Tamashiro.
There have been many more rescues – the latest happened just days ago when a teen jumped into the water and struggled to get out.
Bystanders called 911, and the teen was eventually picked up by Ocean Safety personnel on a jet ski. However, because there is no lifeguard tower nearby, rescuers had to come from other areas. That means those in trouble have to spend even more time in the water.
So what should people do if they get swept off of rocks or get in over their heads? Tamashiro said first – don't panic.
"We recommend staying calm and swimming out to deeper water, and not follow natural instincts to climb up the cliff-line,” said Tamashiro.
Just like it is smart to look before you leap, it’s also wise to know what to do in a worst case scenario.
"Everybody we pull out says almost the same thing, ‘I didn't think it would be that rough. I didn't plan. I didn't realize.’ That's what we really want to instill in everyone – before you leave your car, start thinking about all of these possible situations," said Tamashiro.
There is a sign at the start of the path to Spinning Caves, which warns of the water dangers, but some feel it does not give people a true sense of just how hazardous the ocean can be.