‘No recreational swimming today,’ North Shore lifeguards warn as huge swell arrives


Huge surf brings thousands of spectators from around the world to the North Shore of Oahu. 

“The waves! They’re awesome! We don’t see something like this in Canada, so it’s great to be out here,” said Edna Roorta, who is visiting from Ontario, Canada.

Lifeguards kept busy Saturday warning people of the danger. 

Lifeguards put up caution tape at Sharks Cove earlier Saturday morning in anticipation of the huge swell.

Some people disregarded the warning by going under the tape.

Lifeguards say a late-arriving swell is especially dangerous because the ocean can appear calm and flat for several minutes, then a huge set rolls in. 

Around 11 a.m., there were about 20 people snorkeling and swimming at Sharks Cove. 

Ten to fifteen minutes later, huge waves started to roll in.

Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Lt. John Hoogsteden grabbed his megaphone to warn people in the water. 

“We’ve put up no swimming signs and we have taped this area off with caution tape,” he said. 

“For your safety, we’re asking you to get out of the water,” he continued. 

Lifeguards say Sharks Cove is particularly dangerous when surf picks up. The area is very popular for visitors and does not have any lifeguards on duty. 

“We thought that wall would block the waves but obviously it’s getting covered,” said Ewa Beach resident Leo Villegas. “It’s still a beautiful day, so we’re just wave watching since the lifeguards kicked everyone out.”

Even fire crews came down to warn beach goers. 

“There’s absolutely no recreational swimming today,” warned Lt. Hoogsteden.

“People are fooled into thinking the ocean is calm and we’ve had a few rescues this morning,” he said.

EMS said there were 27 rescues on the North Shore of Oahu on Saturday, and 1,860 preventative actions or warnings. 

According to EMS, there was one rescue on the West Side and 1,500 preventative actions and warnings. 

Saturday’s swell expected to stick around until Sunday morning. 

“If the rocks are wet, do not go on the rocks, if the sand is smooth and wet, don’t go in those areas,” Lt. Hoogsteden said.

He also urges beach goers to listen to lifeguards and heed any caution or warnings that have been posted.

As for the Eddie Aikau surf contest, conditions and timing were not right for the competition to run Saturday or Sunday. 

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