Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hawaii is Dangerous

Hawaii is dangerous. DANGEROUS, I tell you! Yet, people flock there like moths to the flame. What in the world am I talking about? Cautionary signs dot the island. For every breathtaking view or mind-blowing experience, you have to pass by warnings of doom and gloom. But we persevered and pushed forward, keeping a clear head and common sense as we made our way around.

Yes, I do imagine that a coconut falling on your noggin could cause quite a headache. And yet...

Sure honey, go ahead and play right under that coconut tree.
Mokuola (Coconut Island), Hilo, The Big Island


If you are scared away by all this...

Curse you Inadequate Footwear!

you'll never have a chance to see...

Lava flowing down a volcano as night begins to fall
End of Highway 130 in Puna, The Big Island


In Volcanoes National Park, Sulphur Banks is quite a sight. Staying on the trail is easy since it's a wooden boardwalk with railings. You'd have to be a fool to climb through it and take off into the smoldering, yellow- and rust-stained landscape.

If you're good on the trail, you'll be rewarded by the contrast of beautiful flowers against a stinky, hellish backdrop. If you don't obey the signs, you'll fall through a crack in the earth's crust never to be seen again.

See the steam rising up from the rocks behind the ohia flowers? How do they survive in all that malodorous gas?
Sulphur Banks, Volcanoes National Park, The Big Island 


At some places, one sign wasn't enough. Tons of danger abounded everywhere. A few miles north of Hilo, we journeyed through the lush Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive. At Onomea Bay, we parked our car by these.

What a view! It almost makes you want to do the 20-minute hike to the water's edge, dodge falling rocks, jump in the current, and brave a flash flood. Actually, this was a long driving day, so we just hopped right back in the car after taking a picture. No, we are not cowards — merely in a hurry.

That detached rock was part of a sea arch until it collapsed in a 1956 earthquake.
Onomea Bay on the east side of The Big Island


Akaka Falls State Park is a great place to stop... IF YOU DARE.

Keeping back is actually good advice since it's a loooooooong way straight down. When taking that picture, be sure not to step too close to the edge.

442 feet down to the bottom of Akaka Falls


I wonder how many fools have visited The Seven Sacred Pools (a.k.a. Oheo Gulch) on the east side of Maui, south of Hana. Perhaps one crazy person too many prompted officials to post this sign.

Oheo Gulch is such an invigorating place all by itself. How about just climbing on rocks and swimming under the falls instead of leaping from bridges and cliffs?
How could someone think jumping from that bridge is a good idea?
Oheo Gulch, Maui
Sometimes, the danger that you need to fear is human. (Just think of Bambi's poor mom.)
Apparently, it's a non-stop, hunters paradise here.

Have we stumbled into a Hunger Games arena? When we were here, it was 8 years past the posted End date, so we stayed on the trail and continued onward. We were rewarded by climbing the non-native, towering trees of a failed attempt to establish a timber industry on Maui. The trail loops through this alien forest and emerges into native shrubland.

Alien trees at Hosmer Grove, Haleakala National Park, Maui
Other times, the danger came from the fierce creatures that surround Hawaii. No, not sharks.
I don't understand why this requires 2 different signs.
We couldn't resist the black stone beach of Wai'anapanapa State Park. No one else seemed to be getting stung, so we blissfully splashed in the water without fear. At the end of our visit, we even saw some locals doing net fishing.
Wai'anapanapa State Park's beaches are covered with black pebbles, not fine white sand.
No stingers here! 
My favorite sign was the one that reminded us to reflect on the moment and immerse ourselves in the peacefulness of nature.
Along the Waikamoi Nature Trail, The Road to Hana

Take time to smell the roses (hibiscus in Hawaii?) and examine the tree bark.

The perfectly named Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

Are the people of Hawaii being overly cautious popping up these warning signs everywhere? I don't know. There's something about island life that makes your worries and your common sense drift away. They need to bring you back to reality every now and then.

For instance, we were eating lunch outside in Maui at high noon when I noticed a perfectly circular rainbow around the overhead sun. "Look at the sun!" I exclaimed. This was quickly followed by "No! No! Do NOT look at the sun! Never look directly at the sun!" My family thought I was bonkers to say the least. So, I took this photo instead and let them enjoy it on the camera screen.

The rainbow colors were a lot more distinct in real life, but you would have burned your retinas while staring  at it.
Consider yourself warned.

Related Post:
U.S. National Park Week: Part 2

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  1. What's with all the warning signs? Afraid of potential lawsuits, I suppose - but some of them are downright ridiculous. Jumping from cliffs have resulted in injury and death???

    Beautiful place, though - even with the annoying signs.

  2. Such beautiful, colorful photos :)

  3. I know what you mean - the world has gone crazy.
    The Queensland Government recently was found negligent when a man (in 2007)ran down a sand dune and tripped!
    I found it refreshing in N.Z. and Spain where there were no warnings and people were allowed to use their brains and decide what was safe. Maybe this is because those countries didn't have a culture of law suits.

  4. Hi Michelle, this is such a fantastic and witty post. Each of the sign and your commentary made me giggle. I guess you very right, that the island people tend to be content and worry-free that they need to brougth to reality sometimes. I enjoyed the photos of your kids having a great time. That rainbow eucalyptus tree is interesting.

  5. I'm always struck by all the warning signs when we visit Hawaii too. One thing I noticed in Kauai that was particularly shocking was that they keep a tally of the number of deaths each spot--Jeez!

  6. Seriously, this is a funny post. A coconut can knock you out, or worse. I'm always nervous when I see people trying to pick them with a stick. Dangerous!

    We live in a really crazy, ligitious society. I broke my ankle a week ago and the first thing a friend said to me was, if you were in NY, you could sue. True, even a first year law student would see that I have a case. And maybe if I were in NYC, I'd sue because I do have a case. Unfortunately, I can't

    Signs are good, especially if you're unused to the terrain. I wonder sometimes whether people listen, whether it dampens their enjoyment of a place or if it just encourages them to throw caution to the wind.

    Here, most of our signs warn about driving -- we're crazy on the roads. But I know some drivers don't pay attention. They probably think it'll happen to the other guy, the idiot, the Nervous Nelly, not them.

    That sign about trees at work is pretty clever!
    Great post, Michele!

  7. What a great post and a seriously good selection of danger signs!! I love how you have interwoven the signs and the terrain. I think a good dose of common sense is mostly what people need.

  8. Sometimes the warning signs to seem to be very self-evident, don't they? I've been to most of the spots you included, so had a fun trip down memory lane!

  9. I guess a lot of people on vacation do stupid things and then file lawsuits afterward! Funny thing is that I've been to most of those places and didn't notice the signs - not sure what that says about me!!

  10. Love this post. I've seen many of those signs in Hawaii and followed their advice -- well, in most cases, anyway. My husband is always the one who is most daring. There was a trail he wanted to take in Maui recently, but after I read the guide book description emphasizing it was for "trained climbers" (or something like that), I convinced him it wasn't for us. "Quiet Trees at Work" -- very cool.

  11. I love "quiet - trees at work". Isn't it a sorry place though that we have to have all these signs so that companies or governments can protect themselves against siuing with someone gets hurt. Doesn't anyone have common sense these days. And yes, we might miss the beautiful views because of the signs.
    Great post. Have a wonderful week, and thankyou for stopping by my blog the other day.

  12. I've been to the Hawaiian islands and some of these locations a few times but I never thought to take pictures of the signs. Nor, do I remember the signs much. I guess I was enjoying the scenery too much? Loved this post! You made me laugh and that Akaka Falls shot is fantastic. The rainbow eucalyptus area was where we turned around at Mile 7-8 and never made it to Hana. I want to go back to Hawaii now :)

  13. Ha, ha... nice collection. We do tend to warn about everything in western countries! Australia is the same!

  14. Great photo of the lava flows, as you got a lot closer than we were able, only being able to see it from approximately 15 miles away.

  15. I have never travelled to Hawaii before. I intend to spend at least 5 nights in Waikiki, would 3 nights in Maui be enough and 3 nights in Hawaii Island be enough. How do you travel between each island? Is air travel the only way?! Please Feel free to contact us at Maria Comes to Town

  16. On our trip, we spent 5 days on Maui and 6 days on the Big Island, easily filling most of our time. If you can't be there that long, I think you can certainly hit the highlights with 3 days on each island. Air travel seemed to be the cheapest way between the islands. I don't recall any ferries.

  17. What a funny yet very serious post! Most people seem to just ignore the signs! But, you certainly got good pictures! Hopefully you obeyed the signs haha! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  18. Too funny! I tend to not even notice signs most of the time. I guess I should pay more attention?! #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  19. I tend to be way more anxious in general than my husband. So I see these signs and think Oh no, we can't go here or there - like when we went hiking and it warned of cougars in the area. My husband is the adrenalin junkie and say things like Oh boy, I hope we see a cougar! So I am the official sign reader for our family - and sometimes I hope he doesn't read them! Funny signs!

  20. Oh wow, love, love this post. It is cute but so real at the same time. It reminds me a lot about the signs you can find in Puerto Rico. The coconut thing is real (I know people who have been hurt). Avocados are dangerous too (we have big ones). The "Silence, Trees at Work" sign is way too funny. #wkendtravelinspiration

  21. It's hard to believe there is danger in "paradise," but it's true. While many of these signs are actually intended to keep tourists away from some areas, some are actually justified. When are surrounded by all that beauty, you tend to forget that these islands are actually very wild and you can get yourself in trouble very easily. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  22. I think I'll look past the danger at all of the natural beauty. Why are we so attracted to things that can hurt us? I'll heed the warnings and enjoy the scenery.

  23. It's funny - I thought the same thing with all of the warning signs. Some of them do make you wonder - I mean, common sense says you should not jump off a 400 foot cliff, right? The one warning sign that I didn't see, but is desperately needed: Warning! You will forever want to return to Hawaii! :) Thanks for linking up on #TheWeeklyPostcard!


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