As a whitewater raft guide for 30 years, I’m very familiar with the power of moving water, and I have a tremendous respect for it. On Dec. 30, 2019, my wife and I, while hiking the Kalalau trail along Kauai’s Napali Coast, stopped for lunch on the rocks above Hanakapi‘ai beach. We were probably 40 feet above the waterline. As it turned out, that was not far enough to evade a sneaker wave.

Here’s how my story about the life-threatening incident began:

“Get ready to run,” I said to my wife as we watched a muscular swell gain momentum shortly after noon Monday at Hanakapi‘ai Beach. A second later the water was up to our ankles, then instantly above our knees, higher than our waist. Then we were under water, entirely submerged…”

If you click through to the story, you can see photos taken as the wave approached. My wife was just taking photos of a family on the beach seconds before the wave came in. Even more remarkable, somehow my wife’s phone took accidental video of the incident, And that’s on the story page is well, click below to see it all.