Attention all snorkelers and beach lovers! We have an important article to share with you. The alarming news is that visitor snorkeling deaths in Hawaii are on the rise. Sadly, a 63-year-old tourist from Texas recently lost his life while snorkeling at Mokapu Beach in Wailea. This incident is just one of several drownings that have occurred across the state this summer. Authorities have revealed that the majority of these tragedies involve snorkelers over the age of 50, who are visiting the islands. State data emphasizes that drowning is the leading cause of death for visitors, and snorkeling has been identified as the main contributor. With 108 snorkel-related drownings recorded from 2018 to 2022 and at least seven fatalities in the last three months alone, it is clear that urgent action needs to be taken. Safety experts are being consulted and various studies are underway to explore different factors contributing to these unfortunate incidents. Join us as we delve into the details of this concerning trend and strive to understand the risks associated with snorkeling in Hawaii. Let’s ensure that everyone stays informed and safe during their beach adventures in paradise.

Visitor Snorkeling Deaths Continue to Rise


Snorkeling is a popular water activity among visitors to Hawaii, allowing them to explore the beautiful underwater world that surrounds the islands. However, recent incidents have highlighted a concerning trend of snorkeling-related deaths. It is crucial to address this issue to ensure the safety of tourists and promote awareness about the risks associated with snorkeling.

Recent Incident

One tragic incident that occurred at Mokapu Beach in Wailea serves as a reminder of the potential dangers of snorkeling. A 63-year-old man from Texas lost his life after he was found unresponsive in the waters. This incident, along with several other drownings in the state, emphasizes the pressing need to address the rising number of snorkeling-related deaths.

State Data on Drowning

According to state data, drowning has been identified as the leading cause of death among visitors to Hawaii. Snorkeling has been identified as the primary contributor to these drownings. From 2018 to 2022, there have been a total of 108 snorkel-related drownings, with at least seven occurring in the last three months alone. These statistics highlight the urgency of addressing this issue to prevent further tragedies.

Visitor snorkeling deaths continue to rise

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Agencies Studying Snorkel Drownings

Various agencies have been actively studying snorkel drownings since 2017, aiming to understand the underlying causes. Factors such as age, experience in the ocean, health conditions, and ocean conditions are being analyzed to identify potential risk factors. The role of snorkeling equipment, specifically the type of mask worn, is also being examined to determine if it plays a role in these tragic incidents.

Leading Cause of Death

Drowning has been identified as the primary cause of death among visitors engaging in snorkeling activities. The data suggests that snorkeling contributes significantly to drowning deaths in Hawaii. These findings emphasize the need for implementing safety measures to mitigate the risks associated with snorkeling.

Types of Snorkeling Equipment

When it comes to snorkeling equipment, there are different types of masks available, such as full face masks and two-piece sets. There have been misconceptions surrounding the safety of these masks. However, experts and doctors have clarified that deaths related to snorkeling do not occur more frequently with one type of mask compared to the other. Instead, the act of breathing through a straw or tube, regardless of the mask type, puts individuals at a higher risk.

Risk Factors for Snorkeling Deaths

Age has been identified as a significant risk factor for snorkeling deaths. Individuals over the age of 50 appear to be more vulnerable to drowning while snorkeling. Moreover, pre-existing medical conditions and increased exertion during snorkeling can further increase the risk. The levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide while snorkeling also play a role in these incidents. Furthermore, doctors are investigating whether flying for long periods and engaging in snorkeling within 24 to 48 hours can have an impact on these cases.

Pulmonary Edema as a Common Factor

Negative pressure pulmonary edema (NPPE) has emerged as a common factor in snorkeling-related drownings. NPPE occurs when individuals suck too hard on the snorkel to get air into their lungs, causing the lungs to fill with fluid. Studies have shown a correlation between NPPE and deaths among individuals over the age of 50 with pre-existing medical conditions and increased exertion. Understanding this connection can help in developing targeted safety measures to prevent such incidents.

Impact of Flying and Snorkeling

Doctors are currently studying whether flying for extended periods of time and subsequently engaging in snorkeling within a short timeframe can have an impact on the occurrence of snorkeling deaths. The potential effects of these activities in combination need to be investigated to provide comprehensive safety guidelines to visitors.


The rising trend of visitor snorkeling deaths in Hawaii demands immediate attention. It is essential to acknowledge the seriousness of this issue and implement increased safety measures to prevent further tragedies. Ongoing research and collaboration among agencies and medical professionals are vital to gain a deeper understanding of the risk factors and develop effective strategies to promote water safety awareness among visitors. By addressing this problem, we can ensure that snorkeling remains a safe and enjoyable activity for all who visit our beautiful islands.