Hawaii’s scenic areas can hide hazards
Two women fell to their deaths in an off-trail hike to a Kauai waterfall.
THE lure of experiencing a "hidden" Hawaii strongly appeals to visitors and residents alike, but stepping off the beaten path can result in the kind of terrible accident that took the lives of two women
on Kauai this week.
Even though state and county authorities post warning signs, put up fences and other barriers, and assign lifeguards and safety officials to oversee scenic areas, beaches and lookouts, it is virtually impossible to ensure that no one will be injured.
As often happens, people vacationing in the islands forget that Hawaii is no different from other places, that there are hazardous conditions here like anywhere else.
While technology grants access to a wealth of information about Hawaii, Web sites that direct visitors to secluded natural areas might not be the most reliable sources.
Opaekaa Falls, where a California mother of two and her cousin fell to their deaths, appears on thousands of Web pages, some instructing travelers how to get to a "secret" pool at the bottom or to the top of the falls.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has posted signs that read "Danger," "Keep Out" and "Hazardous Conditions" in the area where people have previously pushed through the vegetation.
The agency continually contacts Web site operators when the information they provide runs counter to safety or involves trespassing on private land and conservation areas. The department also advises people to check its Web site for authorized trails not only for their own protection but to safeguard natural resources.
The women weren't the first to find tragedy in a hunt for a hidden, special spot, but as their families mourn the passing of two vibrant lives, we hope they will be the last.
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