Hawaii Big Island is making national and international news as Kilauea Volcano increases activity and lava flows in a portion of Leilani Estates. This is a tough time for the people of lower Puna, and our agents are working to help those displaced. There are numerous resources available, the outpouring of support from all over the world has been incredible.
News continues to spread as media outlets create dramatic headlines. But, there isn’t a risk that the island will be covered in lava, Kilauea will not “blow its top,” and we all aren’t walking around with gas masks on. The news will have you believe that the entire island is poised to evacuate, and everyone is gripped with fear but, that is just not the case.
I hadn’t fully grasped the impact of the volcano coverage until my grandmother, whom I had spoken to just days before, called me crying from her home in New Jersey. She was beside herself with worry that I was covered in ash and nowhere to evacuate my livestock. Immediately, I snapped this picture while in my Hamakua pasture and sent it to her:
Image courtesy of Brittany Anderson
The Big Island is just that, a BIG island at 4,028 square miles and counting, with approximately 10 square miles currently affected by the recent activity. You see, the Big Island is ever expanding thanks to the Kilauea lava flow which has been near continuous for the past 35 years. One of the highlights of my life was seeing the fiery displays of lava oozing into the ocean at sunset in Kalapana some three years ago. This article by the New York Times does a great job at explaining historical and geological information about Kilauea Volcano and the East Rift Zone.
There is still so much to see and do on the Big Island; it is one of the most amazing places on this planet. Hawaii Island’s west side, or Kona side, popular with tourists for its white sand beaches and luxury resorts, is over 100 miles from the lava flow and you’d have to drive around the world’s tallest mountain- Mauna Kea. The Hamakua Coast, home to spectacular Waipio Valley and verdant agricultural lands, is nestled along Mauna Kea’s eastern slopes and 55 uphill-miles from the Leilani lava flow. Most of Volcanoes National Park is closed, but you can still see a lava tube at Kaumana Cave outside of Hilo or hike over old lava and misty jungle on Pu'u 'O'o Trail off Saddle Road– and you can do it for FREE!
Waipio Valley. Image courtesy of Brittany Anderson
Observing the lava is a mesmerizing experience when weather and safety allows. If you have the opportunity to witness this natural force via helicopter, you will not be disappointed. Currently, the area directly around the lava is closed to visitors with only local residents, and first responders allowed past the checkpoints set up in lower Puna. Helicopter tours are unaffected and operating normally.
Living on the Big Island of Hawaii is a wonderful experience, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. We have 11 of the world’s 13 climates, it is the only US state that grows cacao, and there’s no Aloha like Big Island Aloha.
Plan your Hawaii Big Island Vacation
Waimea. Image courtesy of Brittany Anderson