A Hawaiian vacation is not cheap — the average cost can be anywhere from about $1,300 to nearly $2,900 depending on where and how you go, according to USA Today. With the recent volcanic eruption on Hawaii, and President Donald Trump declaring the event a major disaster, many are wondering: Is it safe to travel there?
According to the experts, it is.
The Kilauea volcano erupted on Hawaii's Big Island island on May 3, releasing molten lava flow and toxic gas, forcing 1,500 residents to evacuate their homes. Fissures (splitting of the earth) near the volcano's slope continue to crack open (18 so far), spewing lava. There have also been several earthquakes, one that reached a 6.9 magnitude.
While all this might sound scary, Hawaii Tourism Authority insisted there are "no reasons at this time for travelers to change or alter their leisure or business plans."
That's because the volcanic activity is "limited to a remote region on the slopes of Kilauea Volcano," said the state's governor, David Ige, in a press statement.
Jim Bendt, CEO of Pique Travel Design, a travel agency specializing in Hawaii, says no clients have canceled their plans. "I'd fly there today," he says. "Big Island is over 4,000 square miles. The area of the latest eruption covers 10 square miles. Travelers should have no worries visiting."
The volcano, which is toward the southeast part of Big Island, is dangerous only for those in the evacuation zone, and is unfortunately largely affecting residential areas within the 10-square mile section known as Pahoa town. Airbnbs and inns there are now inaccessible, so travelers should reschedule any bookings in that area.
"Everywhere else in the Hawaiian Islands is not affected," said Ige.
So far, air travel has not been disrupted, and all airports, including Kona and Hilo International airports, the two main airports on Big Island, remain open.
Most of Big Island's resorts are on the island's west side in Kona and Kohala Coast, about 100 miles from the volcano and out of the zone of seismic activity. All hotels and resorts are operating as usual.
For travelers, the only risk right now is the air quality. Vog, or hazy post-volcano air pollution, contaminates the air with sulfur dioxide. There is an active vog watch and, for now, levels are safe for everyone. If vog worsens, stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids.
Despite it being safe, if you're visiting Big Island soon, you may have to tweak your itinerary. Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the largest national park and a major tourist attraction, closed due to the unpredictability of ash fall. Attractions like the Mauna Kea Observatory and beaches are open.
The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active in the world and has been low-level erupting since 1983, the year of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Destructive events like the recent eruption are uncommon.
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