Maui Snorkeling Risks To Be Wary Of

What are the Maui Risks of Snorkeling Over the Age of 50?

Recently, across Maui there have been a rise in the number older people snorkeling and being found unresponsive at beaches around Maui. Ocean drownings, which claimed 143 lives, are second only to suicide as the leading cause of fatal injuries in Maui County between 2006 and 2016.

So we would like to provide some awareness and tips about how to addresses the risks of snorkeling and ocean oriented activities, in particular ocean goers in the age range of 50 and above.

Hamoa Beach on the East Side of Maui is a great family beach 

The better part of snorkeling deaths and incidents in person age 50+ have been due to cardiac arrest. While snorkeling offers a unique view and 1st hand experience in seeing ocean life, it places a lot of strain and increased workload on the heart. Besides the obvious physical efforts required to swim, there is mental component such as that can cause panic such as swallowing water, not getting enough air, or simply from fear due to strong currents. 

Panic is a crucial element in ocean drownings because the release of adrenaline or epinephrine increases the heart rate and constricts blood vessels. The combination of all of the factors mentioned increase the workload on the heart and can result in a heart attack from lack of oxygen. 

Always use your best judgement when decided to go out or not 

While this is meant to be informative, we do not want to scare off those who wish to snorkel because people over 50 can still snorkel but should take a few extra precautions.

  • Visit with their primary physician or cardiologist to discuss coronary risk factors 
  • Staying healthy by exercising on a weakly basis, not smoking, eating a heart healthy diet
  • Actually seeing your doctor on a regular basis

What Maui Has Done To Address The Issue

According to, Colin Yamamoto, the Maui Fire Department battalion chief who oversees county lifeguards, “We’ve been trying to get rescue tubes installed at public beaches on Maui since 2014,” he said. “Last Saturday (June 17), the Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea got 28 rescue tubes put in at six South Maui parks, from Kalama to Kamaole III.”

The day-glow yellow tubes, 50-inches long and mounted on 6-foot white poles topped by a yellow flag and a stenciled GPS location number, are anchored at the vegetation line above the beach’s high-water mark. The lightweight “grab and throw” devices can support up to three adults.

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