Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau on Volcano: No Reason to Change Travel Plans

Hawaii Volcano
Lava from Fissure 7 slowly advances to the northeast on Hookapu Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Pahoa, Hawaii. // Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via AP, Newscred

“There is absolutely no reason at this time to change or alter” travel plans to Hawaii in light of the recent volcanic eruption, said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, in the tourism organization’s latest statement on the situation.

The area affected by the eruption is confined to a 10 square mile area on the of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna, Hawaii Island, the visitors bureau said. That’s more than 100 miles away from the western Kohala and Kona Coasts, where the island’s major visitor accommodations and resorts are located. Additionally, the town of Hilo is approximately 20 miles away from the eruption area and unaffected. All other islands are also unaffected.

The visitors bureau also said that all accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the lava activity. Air quality on the island also remains largely unchanged, except for near to the lava flow.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is currently open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, including the Jaggar Museum (open 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., with the outdoor overlook open until 10:00 p.m.), the Kilauea Visitor Center (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and other areas listed here: https://www.nps.gov/havo. Residents and visitors can still view the lava activity and glow from Halema'uma'u Crater.

For Park updates, visit https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm.

Accessibility in East Hawaii

  • As active volcanic vents are erupting in the area, all residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions are required to evacuate.
  • Pohoiki Road is closed from the intersection at Highway 132 down to Highway 137 to allow evacuation efforts of residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions to proceed whenever possible.
  • Residents and visitors who do not have official business in the active evacuation area (Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions) are asked to stay away to keep the roads as clear as possible and allow homeowners to evacuate.
  • Temporary flight restrictions are in place for most of lower Puna. Drones will be confiscated in this area.
  • Those who have rented accommodations or made tour reservations in the general area should check with those respective companies for the latest updates.
  • Unless otherwise noted, area businesses are open and accessible. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and be prepared for increased traffic.
  • Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has closed Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area until further notice.
  • As a safety precaution, the County of Hawai'i has closed the Kalapana Viewing Area until further notice.

Air Access

The visitors bureau also said that all flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole - KOA (west) and Hilo International Airport - ITO (east) are operating normally. At the same time, several airlines are continuing to offer change waivers for customers set to fly to, from or through Hilo and Kona:

Hawaiian Airlines reports it is allowing guests scheduled to fly through May 13 to rebook through May 20. In addition, for changes made to new flights on or before May 20, any fare differences will be waived provided the change is made in the same class of service and there is no change in origin or destination city. For new flights after May 20, the airline will waive the change fee but not the difference in fare.

American Airlines is also waiving the change fee for customers scheduled to fly through May 13, with rebooked travel to take place through May 16 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference).

Finally, United Airlines is allowing customers scheduled to fly through May 13 to rebook through May 16 between the same city pair in the originally ticketed cabin.

An interactive map of the eruption area is available here.

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