Hawaii shoreline dotted with tourists

The Deadly Trend Tourists Should Be Aware Of When Visiting Hawaii

By Leslie Veliz


Hawaii is home to some of the best places for snorkeling in the world, but there's a distressing trend visitors should be aware of: Snorkelers are dying at an astonishing rate.
Hawaii's Department of Health found that out of the 800 drownings that occurred in Hawaii between 2013 and 2022, 30% of victims were snorkelers, and most were tourists.
KITV reported in 2023 that the most snorkeling deaths in Hawaii occurred at Hanauma Bay in Oahu. A Snorkel Safety Study revealed that many of these were due to SI-ROPE.
Instead of drowning from breathing in water, victims of SI-ROPE, or Snorkel Induced Rapid Onset Pulmonary Edema, drown because they are unable to get enough oxygen.
Individuals who experience SI-ROPE first feel breathless, and as they realize something is wrong, they pass out. The process is swift and not as apparent as a traditional drowning.
To prevent SI-ROPE, the Snorkel Safety Study states that if you're unsure if you have pre-existing heart conditions or don't know how to swim, don't snorkel.
If you are having trouble breathing as you snorkel, stop the activity immediately. Never snorkel alone, and be sure that your mask fits correctly before you begin snorkeling.