To those who wish to have an adventure along the “Road to Hāna” –
East Maui is a uniquely beautiful and wild area, but this rainforest has inherent dangers. One such danger is flash floods. In February 2021 at Waioka Pond in Makaʻalae, south of Hāna town, my daughter was swept away by a flash flood and drowned. She was not aware of this risk. I hope this post will warn you and those you love so that you stay safe.
Waioka Pond is known to locals as a pool of water at the end of a flash flood corridor. The weather and clouds are respected, and precautionary measures are taken by residents to avoid the danger. As a tourist, it is so important to seek the advice of locals and stay on public paths. Do not trust internet blogs or apps. Had our daughter known of the risk, she and her friends would never have gone to Waioka Pond on that cloudy day. Although it was not raining at Waioka Pond that morning and there were no government broadcasted flash flood warnings at the time of their arrival, the rainwater was building high up on the cloudy mountainside. The pond became a death trap for her. She had only a few short seconds to escape the huge wall of water rushing down. It was not enough time. For your own sake, or those of your family & friends when traveling:
- Seek and follow the local community’s advice.
- Check the weather forecast for the greater Hana area at weather.gov/hawaii before traveling in the area. If rain is forecasted or you see grey clouds on the mountains, stay on high ground.
- Stay on well-maintained trails and at visitor facilities.
Today the only memorial of sorts that we have for our daughter is a rescue tube placed strategically in this location. I thank those who are committed to do whatever they can to prevent future drownings in Hawaii and spare another family from the devastating loss of their loved one. Mahalo to the people of Hāna who have shared their spirit of love with our broken hearts.