PUNA, HAWAII – As lava continues to pour into the streets of a remote area on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Island of Hawaii’s Visitors Bureau has released an update, assuring travellers that “there is absolutely no reason at this time to change or alter their leisure or business plans.”
According to Ross Birch, executive director of the Bureau, all of the Hawaiian Islands are unaffected by Kilauea volcano except a remote are on the island of Hawaii’s east side. Out of the island’s 4,028 square miles, only less than a 10-square-mile area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna are affected.
Here’s what travellers need to know:
- Air Access: All flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole – KOA (west) and Hilo International Airport – ITO (east) are operating normally.
- Accommodations and Activities: All accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the lava activity.
- Air Quality: Air quality on the island of Hawaii remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the lava is flowing can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide), and officials are continuing to monitor air quality. To view SO2 conditions in real-time across the state, go to http://www.hiso2index.info/.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: The park is currently open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. This includes Jaggar Museum (open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., with the outdoor overlook open until 10:00 p.m.), Kilauea Visitor Center (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), and other areas listed at https://www.nps-gov/havo. Residents and visitors can still view the lava activity and glow from Halemaumau Crater.
- Accessibility in East Hawaii: All residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions are required to evacuate. Pohoiki Road is closed from the intersection at Highway 132 down to Highway 137 to allow evacuation efforts of residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions to proceed whenever possible. Temporary flight restrictions are in place for most of lower Puna; drones will be confiscated in this area. Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area are closed until further notice. As a safety precaution, the County of Hawaii has closed the Kalapana Viewing Area until further notice as well.
- Eruption Location: The volcanic activity and where lava has flowed is limited to an isolated area in lower Puna on the island’s east side. This is more than 100 miles away from the western Kohala and Kona Coasts, where the island’s major tourist accommodations and resorts are located. This is the area furthest from the current activity. In addition, Hilo town is approximately 20 miles away and unaffected by the volcano.
Travellers planning a trip to the island of Hawaii can contact the Hawaii Tourism United States Call Center at 1-800-GOHAWAII for more information. For other updates, go to http://hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/special-alert/.