Understanding Hawaii Island’s Lava Zones

May 2, 2018||Big Island: Weather and Nature

First developed by the USGS in 1974, and last revised in 1992, lava hazard zone maps were initially developed with the purpose of helping local communities in planning and locating critical facilities in areas considered to be safest. There are nine zones in all, Lava Zone 1 through 9, and each zone has particular meaning for the potential hazard. As the numbers increase the hazard decreases.

May 1, 2017||Big Island: Weather and Nature

Lava Insurance: Does it Exist? 

The East Coast is noted for its hurricanes, the Midwest for twisters and lightning storms and the West Coast for earthquakes. But here in the southernmost section of the US, we have our occasional lava flow—spectacular to behold but deserving of respect and preparation. In late 2014, as the “June 27” lava flow approached Lower Puna, questions about insurance coverage and having a safety net were at the top of residents’ minds. The most-asked question then was “will my insurance cover the loss of my home if lava reaches my property?” By June 2015, the ban on new insurance policies for Lower Puna (aka, “the moratorium”) was lifted. In June 2016, Hawaii said “RIP” to the “June 27” flow.   Lava Insurance and VA Loans Recently, new attention has been brought to the question of “lava insurance” because VA loans have become an option for financing a home purchase in Lava Zone 1 and 2—if you can acquire a "Lava Insurance... Read More 


March 28, 2016||Big Island: Weather and Nature

Citizen Science: Counting Whales in the 2016 Ocean Count 

One of the joys of living in Hawaii is seeing humpback whales in the winter months. I haven't seen many this year so I thought I would spend some time looking by participating in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary's annual Ocean Count. Every last Saturday of January, February and March volunteers gather at designated sites around the islands to count whales and whale behavior. I chose Pu'ukohola National Refuge at Kawaihae, a great vantage point to see whales and the sunniest spot on the island. Even though the forecast was for possible heavy showers this weekend, Kawaihae lived up to its reputation; the skies cleared and you could see for miles. We worked in pairs, one scanning the ocean for whales and the other logging the number of whales, calves, breaches, tail, fin or head slaps, and dives. We started over every half hour switching roles. We only saw a few whales, which was disappointing, but not unexpected... Read More 


February 10, 2015||Big Island: Weather and Nature

Hiking the Big Island: Waimanu Valley  

History of Waimanu Waimanu Valley is one of the most beautiful locations on the Big Island of Hawaii. It seems completly untouched by modern society. Historians say Waimanu may have originally been inhabited as early as the 7th century by Southeastern Polonesians. More recently, Hamakua locals say a tsunami in the 1940's caused a major evacuation of both Waimanu and Waipio Valley, so this valley has been uninhabited for half a century. About the Hike Hikers heading to Waimanu Valley take Muliwai trail which starts at the base of Waipio Valley. The trail begins with a 1,200 foot climb up what locals have nicknamed the "zig-zag" trail, or "Z trail." This small path can be seen from the Waipio look out. The zig zag trail goes straight up the valley wallOnce out of Waipio Valley, hikers complete about 5.5 miles of beautiful switchbacks. Climbing along the coast through waterfalls, up and down hills, over rocks, under fallen limbs, and through... Read More 

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February 10, 2015||Big Island: Weather and Nature

Choose Your Own Adventure: Waimea Green Side or Dry Side 

Waimea: Green Side or Dry Side? It's the age old question, Green side or Dry side? If you tell a Big Island REALTOR® that you are interested in purchasing a home in Waimea, this will probably be the first question they ask. Many people wonder how a town with 10,000 people and one public school can possibly be divided into two "sides." One word, RAINFALL. Due to the weather patterns created by Waimea’s location between the proverbial rock (Mauna Kea) and hard place (Waipio Valley--have you tried that hike?), you'll often hear Waimea described as divided into two sides, the green side and the dry side. The dry side of Waimea, the Kawaihae Road side, gets an average of 9-30 inches of rainfall each year. This side of town has beautiful sunsets views and many homes even have a view of the ocean from a lanai. The private school Hawaii Preparatory Academy is located on the dry side of town and it is about 7 minutes closer to the beach. Several... Read More 

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