Pictured above: Magic Sands Beach, Kailua Kona, May 09, 2018
Recently, Hawai’i Island has made national and international headlines after lava inundated a portion of Leilani Estates and continues to flow on the slopes of the Kilauea Volcano on the East Rift Zone in the Puna District.
As the news spread through major media outlets during the first days of the new flow, I received messages and calls from family and friends concerned about the island and for my safety. Even those who had visited me before in Kailua Kona and had driven the two and a half hours from where I live to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and to the Puʻu ʻOʻo vent to see the eruption saw the dramatic headlines and were left with an impression that the whole island was in immediate danger.
I didn’t quite understand this until I saw the national news and what was constantly streaming online. One news outlet even misidentified the island, showing a graphic that stated the lava flow was happening on Oahu. (This article, however, does a great job describing the region where the East Rift Zone is located.)
Rightly called “the Big Island,” this island is, well, big—4,028 square miles to be precise. That’s big enough to fit all the other islands on it with plenty of room to spare. The west side of the island—popular with tourists because of its white sand beaches and usually sunny days—is more than a 100 mile to drive over one of the world’s largest mountains to the area affected by the current lava flow.
Boasting 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, the Big Island is one of the most spectacular places on earth and our active volcano is a must see when conditions are safe and getting close is permitted. For now; however, most sections of the Park are closed and only local residents and essential personnel are allowed past the checkpoints in Puna that have been established to help maintain safety in the area affected by the lava flow and ashfall.
That leaves the rest of our beautiful island open for business and ready to welcome you if this is your time to come experience the wonder of it all.
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