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Brown Water at Kanaha

Brown Water at Kanaha

Brown Water at Kanaha

After heavy rains upcountry, the soil and sediment in the upcountry streams gets washed downstream and goes into the ocean. We call these events Brown Water. It can be sunny and dry at the beach, but if it rains heavily on the uphill slopes, then you can get A flash flood, and swift moving water suddenly swells the streams and culverts, and you will get a situation like in the photograph below. It is always possible that this can happen at anytime, so be careful if camping near a stream, or if kids are playing near a stream. Brown-water brings with it the soil, and pesticides, livestock feces and other contaminants. The bacteria in brown-water is potentially harmful to humans, so you should avoid contact with brown-water in streams, and in the ocean. Brown-water is also damaging to coral reefs and marine life too. The pesticides like roundup, used on ag crops and sugar cane fields goes into the streams and oceans and is toxic to plants, algae, and coral.  Hopefully in the future better farming practices uphill, and less livestock churning the soil, will help to reduce the occurrence of Brown Water. meanwhile stay out of the ocean too, for at least three days or until the water is clear again. Especially if you have any cuts on you. an never get brown-water into your eyes or nose either.

Brown water flooding from a stream at Kanaha Beach


Lifeguard Alfredo.Lifeguard Jay SniffenKanaha Beach is one of only 3 life-guarded beaches on the North shore. This is because Kanaha is one of the most heavily used beaches on the island. There are several swimming areas there. The most protected is closest to the main lifeguard tower. Swimming in the early morning is best for the calmest water. There are several marked swim zones with buoys. It is not recommended to swim too far from shore. Mornings are best because the trade winds usually make the water choppy around noon. Kanaha is not recommended for snorkeling as the water is usually too turbid (murky). Take care during times of large waves are they make conditions dangerous. Be very careful if people are fishing in the swimming areas. This is often the case. swimming while someone is fishing is not recommended because of the danger of getting hooked, or the increased possibility of encountering unfriendly marine life.

Please always follow the directions of the lifeguards. Lifeguards protect the safety of the public by warning or dangerous conditions and areas. There are designated swim zones that are closely watched by the lifeguards. This is the best place to swim. It also ensures that you will not be bothered by the other water users. If you are unsure of where the swim-zones are, or the weather conditions, then please go up and talk to the lifeguards and ask for their advice. Lifeguards will also be watching the offshore areas and occasionally do rescues of surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders, however please note they are not obliged to bring users equipment back to shore. If you venture away from shore, do so at your own risk. Lifeguards at Kanaha have a difficult job monitoring all the different activities and areas.

  • Lifeguards will often only patrol during specific hours usually 8:00am to 4:30pm daily.
  • Outside of these times you will be swimming at your own risk.
  • If you need emergency help call 9-1-1.
  • The lifeguards are on the 911 emergency response system.

*Lifeguards will post red flags post and warning signs to warn the public about dangerous ocean conditions.

Tips for Safer Swimming at Kanaha Beach:

  • Swim in designated swim zones.
  • Stay close to the lifeguards.
  • Never let children swim unsupervised.
  • Never dive headfirst into the water because rocks and debris may cause head and neck injury.
  • Do not go in the water if you are cut or bleeding.
  • Avoid swimming when people are fishing.
  • Avoid swimming when there are waves.
  • If in doubt don’t go out.
  • For the safest swimming experience go to the Kahului Public Pool.
  • Kahului Public Pool – 145 Kaulawahine St, Kahului, HI 96732