With all of the media coverage surrounding Kilauea’s current eruption, there’s been a ton of misinformation. So I want to come out and say that the Big Island is a safe place to visit. There’s no reason to cancel your vacation.
Kilauea’s current East Rift Zone eruption is garnering a ton of coverage around the world. There are many striking images of lava engulfing homes, ash clouds billowing from Halemaumau Crater, and more.
These images are awe-inspiring and frightening at the same time. And, interpreted incorrectly, they can make it seem like Hawaii is an unsafe place to visit. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Heck, the fact that news outlets claim that Oahu is unsafe to visit is hilariously incorrect and unfortunate. So here’s what you really need to know.
Yes, Kilauea is erupting, and yes it’s causing a lot of damage. We haven’t seen this kind of eruption from the volcano in a long time, but it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. In fact, the eruption is affecting only a tiny portion of the island.
See that area highlighted in red? That’s the area in which the eruption is happening. Actually, the eruption is much smaller than that; this is just the general area. The Big Island’s capital city, Hilo, is over 24 miles away from the eruption. Waikoloa Resort is over 80 miles away, Waimea is over 90 miles away, and Kona is nearly 100 miles away from the eruption.
Given the distance of these areas from the eruption, you will not hear or see it if you visit any of these places. You most likely won’t see any ash either. What you may experience, though, is VOG, which is the volcanic equivalent of smog. It is composed of the same harmful gases officials are warning the public about, but the concentrations in areas away from the eruption are very low. At the levels found in other parts of the island, VOG will act as an irritant and will not be a health hazard. And while I hate VOG, as it makes me feel lethargic and dehydrated, it does make for amazingly vibrant sunsets.
The only other effect you may notice is a tremor here or there. But even then, the majority of them are highly localized and small.
Still a Lot of Fun to be Had
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains off-limits, which is unfortunate, as it is an amazing place to visit. However, there are still many things to do around the Big Island. For example, you could enjoy the beach, do a stargazing tour atop Mauna Kea, sample wines at Volcano Winery, go ziplining over a waterfall, experience the world’s best coffee, eat fantastic sweets, and more.
The Big Island is a Safe Place to Visit, Final Thoughts
If you’re planning a visit to the Big Island, please keep your plans. And if you’re on the fence about visiting the island, there’s no need to worry, do come. Honestly, all of the visitor cancellations are causing more damage to the island than the volcano. People are losing their jobs and businesses are floundering. The island needs visitors, and all the inaccurate negative press on the island is costing the people of Hawaii Island dearly. So despite what some outlets are reporting, the island is still entirely safe. And there are still many interesting, fun things to do on the island. Don’t believe me? Check out this excellent article by the SF Chronicle.