Straight talk about Kilauea
We just returned from a fantastic trip on the Big Island! We toured the Pahoa area and spent the night by the Black Sand Beach and got as close as 2 miles away from the active fissure! A once in a lifetime opportunity!
Recent press in regards to the events surrounding the Kilauea eruption have created much concern, so I will try and give some honest, first-hand perspective on the situation.
Initially, I was apprehensive about going - having repeated visions of dying an premature, fiery and unpleasant death at the hands of Pele. After all, the news reports sounded awful - like all of Hawaii would soon succumb to Pele's wrath! I also envisioned the area being like a ghost town with no cars or people for miles.
Soon after arriving into the Pahoa area, there were lots of cars and people which reassured me that it was simply "business as usual" in this neck of the woods. Black beach was full of cars and people visiting, and the town of Pahoa had more people that it could almost handle! The National Guard had closed off access to the entire "active" area unless you are a local resident. This was a bit of a disappointment, as I'd hoped to see some active lava (from a safe distance).
The air was SO CLEAR on the Hilo side, except for the immediate area around fissure, which glowed a orange-red hue in the nearby sky. So cool! At night, we were surrounded by hundreds of people, including locals paying homage to Pele. I didn't see one person wearing one of the white disposable masks, nor could feel any affects of the fissure.
There were some days when the air quality in Kona showed some VOG, so those days we just headed up to the Kohala Coast to swim and hang out.
Consider that he Big Island of Hawaii is just over 4,000 square miles, versus the affected area which is about 10 square miles. The majority of Hawaii island is unaffected by Kilauea and know there is plenty of fun to be had swimming and exploring here.
Remember, Kilauea's been erupting since 1983 near the city of Volcano which is actually closer than the current eruption site. As you can see, the current May 2018 eruption site, near Pahoa, is further away from Volcano and a 2 hour drive away from Kona on the opposite side of the island.
We recommend these sites which should help ease your mind on visiting.
- Volcanoes National Park service website for daily updates on volcanic activity on Big Island
- Hawaii County Map has current map sites
- Check Purple Air for current air quality conditions
- In Google search engine, type in: Kona air quality (or whatever other city you are traveling to)
Google pulls this information from the EPA hourly.