Popular Hawaiian Swimming Hole a Deadly One

Gorgeous Kipu Falls can be quite the 'tourist trap'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2011 9:17 AM CDT
Kauai, Hawaii's Kipu Falls: Popular Tourist Destination a Deadly One
A July 6, 2011 photo shows a memorial at Kipu Falls on Kauai for Kulana Kauhi-Apao, an Oahu man who drowned there in December 2010.   (Audrey McAvoy)

(Newser) – Travel guidebooks call Kipu Falls "a glorious little hidden place" and a "swimming hole extraordinaire." But the alluring beauty of the Hawaiian waterfall and natural pool conceals a deadly side: Five visitors have drowned at Kipu Falls in the past five years, including two since December. In most of the cases, the swimmers jumped off the top of the waterfall into the pool of blue-green water about 20 feet below, then were pulled to their deaths while attempting to swim to the shore.

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Others have suffered chest injuries, rope burns, perforated eardrums, and broken ankles. The deaths have given rise to speculation about whether there's a powerful whirlpool current in the swimming hole and prompted local authorities to push for greater restrictions to the site. The local tourism bureau became so alarmed by the toll that it mounted a campaign last year to push guidebooks to remove all references to the place. But a bill, which would have made writers and publishers of travel guides liable for depicting private property where a reader is injured or dies, has failed amid protests from publishers who said it violated their First Amendment rights. (Read more Hawaii stories.)

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