HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first swell of the winter season is here and drawing in some crowds at Shark’s Cove on Tuesday. But Ocean Safety officials are reminding people about just how dangerous the ocean conditions can get.

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“The waves this morning were like freight trains coming through like 15-20 feet high,” said Barbara Pallin, North Shore resident.

“One thing about this swell there’s long lull where the ocean is flat and large surf will come in and it’ll sweep you off your feet,” Lt. John Hoogsteden of Honolulu Ocean Safety.

This swell showed just how fast ocean conditions can change. 

Honolulu Ocean Safety saved a 54-year-old woman around 9 a.m. at Shark’s Cove. 

Officials said the visitor was in the water with family when she was pulled out by a strong current and taken under by large surf as she was trapped between the rocks. 

Lifeguards and Honolulu EMS responded and the woman was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

“It’s a lot of water moving around and that current is sitting there it might not be visible to you but when you’re in the water it’ll be sweeping you out to sea,” said Lt. Hoogsteden.

Yellow tape and warning signs have been put up at beaches across the North Shore. 

As of 4 p.m., Honolulu Ocean Safety rescued 15 people from the high surf and made more than 800 preventative actions along the north shore. 

"Do Not Enter" tape guards off areas where high surf poses danger on Oahu's North Shore on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.
“Do Not Enter” tape guards off areas where high surf poses danger on Oahu’s North Shore on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

“We wanted to take a swim here but it’s impossible,” said Andelika, visiting from Ukraine. “We saw the warning signs that said, no swimming or if you have doubts better not to swim.”

 As for Ke Nui Road residents, they’re feeling many emotions with the first winter swell arriving so soon. 

“We’re all nervous, everyone’s nervous,” said North Shore resident Todd Dunphy.

“Took some of the lawn furniture drop off the line and off the bus and that’s about it,” said Dunphy. “Nothing else to do. Mother nature is coming.”

“This is a warm-up I mean I was here last year when they were having 50-foot waves and it was insane,” said Pallin.

Ocean Safety officials are reminding everyone that this is just the start of another busy winter season. 

“Our wintertime swell is here so the places you went snorkeling or hang out at in the summertime are not the places you wanna be today or through the next few months,” said Lt. Hoogsteden.

Ocean Safety is urging everyone to only go to beaches with lifeguards and stay off wet sand. 

“There will be a stretch of sand that won’t have any footprints, and it looks beautiful that means a wave has been there, and will come there again and drag you off your feet,” said Lt. Hoogsteden.

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Another reminder from Ocean Safety, if you see any emergencies happening in the water or onshore call 911 immediately.