Honolulu Lite


Blowholes, lava,
carnivorous fish!
Welcome to Hawaii!

Hawaii needs to rethink this tourist-destination thing. It's clear that the islands are just too dangerous to be used as a playground for anyone who can scrape enough money together for the plane ride.

First off, we're surrounded by water. And water is dangerous. You can choke on it. You can slip on it. You can drown in it. And, like the kid who decided to straddle the Halona Blowhole recently, water can blow you up into the air, drag you down into a rock hole and kill you.

When a lot of water is around, as there tends to be in an ocean-type situation, it can be even more dangerous. It can form itself into rip tides, currents, waterspouts and enormous breaking waves. While all of these forms of water can be fun to play in if you know what you're doing, they can be downright fatal to some guy from, say, Kentucky, whose basic understanding of water is that it comes in cubes to chill bourbon.

The other dangerous thing about the water around Hawaii is that animals live in it, and most of them are hungry. You take that tourist from Kentucky who is accustomed to animals that run around on a track with tiny people on their backs and put him into the ocean, and he doesn't realize that he's suddenly on the menu.

But the ocean isn't the only reason why Hawaii is too dangerous to be used as a tourist destination. Lots of things in Hawaii are hard and sharp -- like rocks, for instance. There are tons of rocks here. And when you fall on them or they fall on you, it really hurts. A boulder rolled down a hill recently, crashed into a house and killed a woman asleep in her bed. If you aren't even safe from rocks in your bedroom, consider how dangerous it is to have tourists clambering all over Diamond Head Crater, which essentially is one big rock.

But we continue to encourage complete strangers to come to Hawaii despite the dangers. And every time one of them ends up seriously injured or, even more seriously, dead, we taxpayers of Hawaii foot the bill.

The family of the 18-year-old Los Angeles guy who died at the Blowhole is suing us. It's our fault he died. See, in Los Angeles they don't teach people that it is dangerous to straddle a lava hole when 40,000 gallons of water are being forced out of it with the power of a jet engine. There should have been a sign on the Sandy Beach side of the Blowhole explaining the danger of extreme water pressure when combined with sharp, jagged lava rocks. (Perhaps a physics professor should be posted at Blowhole to explain the fluid dynamics of the situation.)

Even if you put another sign out there, some other tourist is going to approach the Blowhole by parachute and complain the dangers were not spelled out in a sign visible from 10,000 feet up.

We could just Quikrete the Blowhole closed. But then the tourists would find some other dangerous place to play, like Kilauea Volcano. You think people from Kentucky are ignorant about water -- buddy, they don't know jack about lava. Molten rock spewing next to people drinking bourbon on ice is a lawsuit waiting to happen. So we'd better Quikrete Kilauea Crater, too. That, or bar tourists from coming to Hawaii altogether.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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