We Originally put this article together for the Huge Kilauea Eruption that tore through the South West of the Big Island, but the eruption has long since died off and all is well in the islands of Aloha. However, a new storm is brewing on the Island- Corona Virus, or Covid-19, and once again the Islands safety is called into question. For an Island State whose principal economy is based solely around tourism, any hint the islands are not safe is hugely damaging.
Here is what we know and what we think about the immediate danger of the virus and its spread around the islands! We have left the original content about the Volcano intact as, well it was so utterly spectacular you may want to read, just how dramatic the events of 2018 were! So Is It Safe to Travel to Hawaii 2020 because of the Coronavirus?
March 19th Update – 16 Cases on the Islands
Right now, despite the severe damage to the travel industry as a whole it really is not a good idea to travel ANYWHERE. The USA is not on lockdown and interstate travel and flights are still permitted but this could change any day.
If we were traveling in the next 2 months we would be looking to cancel and obtain refunds and start any travel insurance claims. The situation across the country is really bad, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Honestly, Hawaii is still really safe, the main concern for travel is what happens if you are away when a lockdown comes into force. Along with the fact you may be inadvertently transmitting the virus to the country.
Of course, if you are from outside the States, then it is almost certain you will not be granted entry at this time, and in most countries, it is 100% certain. (Aisa, Canada, Europe, etc)
Our Advice…STAY AT HOME!
March 13th Update, 2020 Virus Update
As Travel Bloggers, we are very well versed on all things Travel and Have experienced Most things. However, this is by far and away, the biggest thing to hit travel since …WW2!
We are NOT Medical Experts, and we are strong believers in trusting the Experts. The current Coronavirus outbreak is a MEDICAL emergency. As such we are completely unqualified to comment. Take your advice from the Medical Community.
We Still feel Hawaii is possibly one of the safest places in the world and while we doubt very much you would pick up coronavirus on the Islands, the more people travel there the less likely this will be the case.
One of the best analogies we have heard is The CoronaVirus is very much like a Hurricane, The Storm IS coming, just because it’s sunny and calm on the beach right now in 5 days it is going to get rough. How bad Coronavirus will be is beyond our experience as Travel Bloggers so we have to Bow to superior experts.
We do have a little bit of specific travel advice though.
Have you got Travel Booked?
If you are booked to head to Hawaii in the next couple of months. The best advice we can give is to get GREAT travel insurance. Travel companies and airlines are being really good atm and are allowing people to move flights and bookings in the immediate future, definitely consider this but there is ZERO evidence this is going away in the immediate future!
This is why Travel insurance is the number one must have right now. We really do not know what is going to happen, Buy everything on a Credit Card for chargeback Protection and have great insurance.
As for whether or not to go, that is down to your own personal opinion and the LATEST Medical advice, we simply cannot at this point give accurate advice.
Are you planning on Booking Travel?
We would be very wary of booking anything in the next 2-3 months, by September and October things should be calming down, right now you might get a great deal but again, we really do not know the whole picture. Worst-case estimates are 18months of disruption!
Personally, we have several trips booked for this year and at this stage are planning as if they are all going ahead, but we are ready to cancel at a moment’s notice should things go awry, however, we would not be planning any trip had they not already been booked!
The Truth is the only way to contain the Virus is via Social Distancing, such has been practiced in the far east. This has contained the virus, but there are still concerns these measures are only temporary, as the restrictions are lifted cases rise again! It may be the case the only way through is to let the virus run its course through the population, treat the most poorly while isolating the most vulnerable, and build up a societal immunity, that will not be a fun process for the Travel Industry, and Society as we know it!
And finally, we need to reiterate once again, we are TRAVEL BLOGGERS. This is the MOST complex and Serious health emergency to hit the world since the 1918 Spanish Flu and even the Medical experts are making it up as they go (they have to, this is a new virus and new info comes to light all the time!). Do not trust anything we say or anything you hear from non-official sources, we can offer our opinion but it is pretty much meaningless, as is “Barbara’s” from next door and “Mike” on Facebook who’s sister knows a doctor from Italy (she doesn’t).
The US Government is implementing measures that is destroying the stock market and costing the country $billions trust in the fact they would not do that without a DAMN good reason!
March 12th, 2020 Corona Virus Update
This is such a fast-spreading Story with so many complex variables it is really hard to keep up with. As per our March 4th Update, we are really confident that travel to the islands of Hawaii, at the minute presents a really small risk of virus contraction.
However, it is probably far more complicated than this. It is almost at the point where travel to the islands should be discouraged to STOP the spread of the Virus to the islands. Certainly people in heavily affected areas of the states such a Washington State, New York State and PArts of California. Should definitely consider canceling, along with anyone with contact with anyone who has been to an effected country recently. This is getting to a situation far more concerning than simply “can I go on my Vacation” and anyone with an upcoming trip should monitor the situation closely and take the advice of the medical authorities seriously.
Right now we couldn’t imagine a healthier place to be than the sunkissed shores of Hawaii, but we would hate to be the ones responsible for bringing the virus to the shores.
March 4th, 2020 Update Coronavirus
Due to its tropical island nature and the vast number of Chinese and Japanese Visitors the islands of Hawaii have taken the brunt of the coronavirus concern. Some of the first cases reported in the States were in Honolulu, and we have seen the hysteria and panic spread amongst the Travel Forums and communities!
From what we can tell this is, at this stage completely unjustified! At least as far as anyone traveling from the United States or Canada is concerned. Right now, anyone traveling from the east coast of the United States is MORE likely to pick the virus up there, actually…
The number of confirmed cases in the State of Hawaii is…0 (Update there are now 16 confirmed Cases)
The two reported cases were from two Japanese tourists, who picked up the virus outside of Hawaii, traveled there, and then flew home and were subsequently tested positive. After exhaustive testing efforts, there has been no evidence the virus was passed on to anyone on the Island.
So as of now, Hawaii is as safe as anywhere in the world and actually far safer than probably where you are now.
It is not all good news though. Coronavirus is a serious concern worldwide! The chances of this becoming widespread in any country are high and Hawaii is no exception. And even if Hawaii remains clear, which is more likely than the mainland due to its isolation hot climate, lower population, and good healthcare, That is not necessarily good news for holidaymakers, the island may easily be quarantined for its own sake!
For now, the biggest risk to Hawaii is the economic impact of Travel Disruption. If flights stop landing the economy is in dire trouble. For anyone planning a trip there, your biggest risk is your trip being canceled. The Authorities are really on this. If a place is deemed at risk Quarantine is very likely. If that is your hometown or country you will not be allowed to fly, if it’s Hawaii, flights there will be canceled. This is a big risk, Financially to any traveler.
The solution is not to cancel trip, not to put off planning them, but to ensure you have top travel insurance to cover the cost of any cancellation.
Of Course, this is a very personal topic and we cannot tell you how best to look after yourself and your family, but at present, there really is very little danger in heading out to paradise, at least as far as Coronavirus is concerned. Keep up on the latest news and try to stay rational and calm. The Offical Government page will keep you up to date on all things Coronavirus.
The Question you may ask us is would WE travel to Hawaii right now, the answer is YES absolutely, we even have Flights booked right now for later in the year!
WARNING – This is a VERY fast moving Story, we will keep you updated with any further developments as this opinion is based on today, tomorrow could be very different.
JANUARY 2019 UPDATE
From what anyone can tell the eruption has all but ended or more accurately paused. The Volcano is technically still Erupting but it is at some of its lowest eruption levels since the current eruption began decades ago. Great news for anyone worried about the eruption, less great for anyone wanting to witness mother natures at her most spectacular! We have left this post as it was so you can see just how incredible the eruption was.
Read on for some incredible images and to be aware of just how spectacular Mother Nature or Pele can be when she unleashes the fury! But for now, the island is peaceful and serene. There are still significant impacts at the Kilea Summit area of the national park, but as far as safety on the island is concerned it is 100% safe from an eruption point of view…Of Course, the eruption could restart, but this is unlikely in the short term as the lava lakes refill.
Fear not, for most there will be ZERO impact. The word from the Hawaii tourist bored is HAWAII is open for Business! But this is not the whole picture. What people really need to know, Is it Safe to Travel to Hawaii 2018? This post is designed to inform you of any possible impacts and any action you need to take with regard to the current and ongoing Volcanic eruption on Hawaii.
The Good news is most people will be unaffected. Our Friends and Families all know what we do and our love for Hawaii and the small talk invariably gets round to “I bet you are glad you are not out there now”. Our swift response is “if we could get the time off we would be out there in a heartbeat”! Let’s dig a bit deeper to show you why.
JANUARY 2020 UPDATE
For the time being the Volcano has ceased erupting and is now, while still active, no longer erupting. The Summit Crater has completely collapsed and has for the first time in its history started to fill with water!
There are signs the Magma Chamber is refilling and further eruption possible but for now, all danger has completely passed!
Where is the Eruption?
Some of the confusion comes from the fact the press is saying a Volcano on Hawaii is erupting! Really this is a bit vague? Hawaii is an Island chain of over 8 major islands over 500miles in length in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Exactly where the Volcano is erupting is a hugely important fact.
Kilauea is a large Volcano on the very northeast side of the Big Island of Hawai’i. See this is part of the problem the Big Island is also known as Hawai’i so when the press says the volcano is affecting Hawai’i it causes confusion and people think the whole state (Hawaii) is affected. it’s not. Take a look at the below map to get an idea of what is happening:
As you can see it’s only a tiny area of the remotest part of the biggest island that is subject to the eruption. The map still isn’t the full picture there are wider implications of the eruption but it shows just how much of an exaggeration the press coverage is. Remember this has been an ongoing eruption since 1983 and has just recently ramped up.
Let’s go Island by Island and See what is affected.
Is it safe to travel to Oahu 2018?
Rivers of Lava cannot reach hundreds of miles across oceans!
Get on the plane. No, really there are absolutely zero effects of the volcano on Oahu. Just get on the plane and enjoy your trip to paradise! If Oahu is your only destination you can even stop reading this. There is no need for more details it is 100% fine.
The only potential issue is a large explosive eruption causing a large ash cloud and the Airlines suspending air travel. This is not a safety risk as much as a trip disrupter. But the worst thing that will happen is the flights canceled and compensation offered, or you will be stranded in paradise!
It’s also highly unlikely and has been an ever-present risk since 1983. And is also a risk anywhere in the world that has active volcanos. In 2010 an Icelandic volcano erupted and brought European air travel to a standstill! Would you cancel a trip based on that?
In Short, Enjoy your trip, Oahu is 100% open!
Is it safe to travel to Maui 2018?
Maui is closer to the Big Island than Oahu but it’s still far enough away to be unaffected from a safety point of view. There is a small risk of VOG. Actually, there is a fairly high risk of VOG it’s just the VOG is a minor irritant at worst.
VOG is a type of fog, containing Sulpha dioxide and can be quite unpleasant. Aside from blocking the Sun it is an irritant and can cause breathing difficulties. But Maui is at present largely unaffected. Small amounts are present when the wind blows in certain directions but generally, it’s very mild and will not cause breathing or lung irritations like the denser VOG found nearer the volcano. The worst it’s been is “a little bit VOGGY!”
That means there has been a bit of VOG Haze, not thick VOG conditions that are hazardous. This is a bit like worrying it might rain. It can’t be helped and will not overly affect your trip should it occur. And there have been no reports of this being anything but ordinary levels.
In Short, don’t think twice get on the plane!
Lanai or Molokai?
The proximity of these Islands to Maui means if you are traveling here treat as you would Maui.
You are not allowed to travel here at any time, and if you are then you probably know more about this than us!
Is it safe to travel to Kauai 2018?
Shocking but hundreds of miles from Kauai…
Kauai is the least affected by the Volcano of all the Islands. It’s the furthest distance and as such completely unaffected. As far as the volcano goes get on the plane.
However, Completely unrelated Kauai has suffered some severe flooding as of April. Again looking at the Map above the affected area is very small. It is also not in a tourist area and should have almost NO impact on your trip. Unless of course, you are planning in staying or visiting an affected area. Mainly around Hanalei.
If you are staying in this area of Kauai we would definitely recommend contacting your property and asking about their situation. The 560 is also closed beyond Hanalei meaning everything beyond there is off-limits. If at all possible avoid the area. There is nothing good to be seen at the minute.
Some State parks are still affected too Notably the Kalalau Trail on the Napili Coast…This could be terribly disappointing for some! Check the State Parks Website for the latest info. And don’t try and think you know better and ignore any closures. If you are lucky you may get away with a citation. If not you’ll find out WHY they are closed.
In short, there are still some localized issues on Kauai due to the flooding. There are certainly no Safety implications and most attractions and sights are open as usual. It’s no reason to cancel a trip. The Worst-case may be a change of location if your accommodation is affected.
Is it safe to travel to Hawai’i 2018? The Big Island!
Here is where things get a little complicated. Obviously, part of Hawai’i is seriously affected by the eruption. Massive quantities of Lava are pouring out of the Fissures and are causing damage to property and roads in the area. It is a terribly dangerous area to be in and we would advise you to avoid it at all costs!
Well, we would but we don’t need to. The danger areas are completely evacuated and no one is allowed in without very specific clearance. It is not a tourist area and Lava is not just springing up in the middle of the Luau!
The Authorities and Experts know a hell of a lot about the Kilauea Volcano. It is the most studied in the world (Can’t think why Volcanologists flock to the paradise island?). When Pele Wakes up the guys in charge no how to deal with her. And that is get people out and keep people away!
Really this is the main reason we haven’t got on a plane. I would dearly love to witness the incredible power of mother nature forging new land right before our eyes. But the reality is the authorities have shut the place down. So we have to make do with the images and videos flooding out.
Now the area affected by this is a fairly small chunk of land far away from most tourist areas. You can easily visit most parts of Hawai’i and never even know anything is going on. However, it’s not all rosy. There is the Issue of VOG.
VOG is an unfortunate and ever-present problem in Kona Kailua and the Kona Coast as a whole. This can and does affect the area at any time of the year. However with the increased activity when conditions are favorable to Vog it is forming more abundantly and thinker than average.
Really the News from the ground is that Kona is not all that pleasant at the minute. The VOG is just a bit much. We hate to say this and really feel for any business in the area that WILL be affected by tourists staying away. Of course, we would happily recommend you visiting Kona it’s not dangerous there it’s just a bit grotty due to the VOG so maybe if the bulk of your stay is there it might be disappointing. If you can consider relocating, The Big Island still has lots of VOG-free areas.
We only really recommend avoiding Kona if you would not incur any penalty if so base your trip in Kona but head out during the day to find the clearer air if it’s bad. Some days there may be no issue it is entirely winds-based.
Despite being much closer to the Eruption Hilo is largely unaffected by VOG and the Eruption in general. The winds tend to push the Vog down the Kona coast and away from Hilo. The close proximity to the eruption may mean you feel the odd tremor but they will be very light and nothing to worry about.
If you are staying in Hilo, We have no issue saying you should continue with your trip.
Largely unaffected by VOG. We certainly suggest altering your accommodation to here is at all possible while VOG is affecting Kona area. It is a beautiful area and only on very heavy days does VOG affect the area seriously. The chances are it will be perfect for any trip in the immediate future and beyond.
We really hate writing this and possibly affecting business in Kona and on the BIG island in general but people do need to know. Some Tourist outlets are advising all is rosy in Kona and not to worry! While you don’t need to worry as such as there is no risk to life at all. It’s not fair to trick people into heading into conditions that are quite frankly unpleasant. A lot of people head to Hawai’i for a dream trip. A tri[p spent in thick irritating VOG, while not dangerous is no fun.
A final tip is to try to ensure if you are in Kona your room has Air-con. At least it will be pleasant in the room that way.
BUT WHAT IF IT EXPLODES!!!
Ah, so you have heard about the Imminent ASH EXPLOSION the press talk about. Well, this is quite possible. But it still won’t seriously affect the tourist areas such as Kona or Hilo. People think of the Deadly explosions of Krakatoa or Mount St Helens. Well, Hawaii Volcanos don’t work that way. They are what is know as effusive volcanos lave flows gradually down the slopes building up the large shield shapes that give them the name Sheild volcanos.
A Large Ash eruption at the summit of Kilauea may occur and it might be a very impressive sight but it poses no risk outside of the immediate vicinity (which is evacuated). The big risk from explosive Volcanic eruptions is Pyroclastic flow. This does just not occur on Shield volcano types like Kilauea and the other Hawaiian Volcanos. If Kilauea blows her top the only risk is ash fall which can be a health risk but not deadly especially if you take the advice of the authorities.
Remember despite the incredible scenes of 50 Story Lava fountains, Giant rivers of lava, Huge plumes from explosive eruptions there has only been one case of injury to date! and that was an utter freak accident! Remember there are around 100 miles between the volcano and Kona including the two tallest mountains in the world. What could possibly affect you with those sorts of barriers?
People on the ground say in the majority of Hawai’i or the big island if it wasn’t for the VOG you would not know anything was happening. In fact, the biggest complaint is the majority of the Volcano’s national park is closed and they don’t get to see the Volcano!
Still Not convinced?
Some people are just worriers and no amount of reality will convince them they are about to meet certain doom. Well, if you just can’t get the image of a fiery death out of your mind then you should probably cancel your trip. You wanted an answer to the question is it Safe to Travel to Hawai’i the answer is YES. But if that isn’t good enough you may not be able to be convinced. Just try somewhere else and leave all the bars and restaurants free for the rest of us.
How long will this go on for!
How long is a piece of string? I mentioned earlier that Kilauea is one of the most studied volcanos in the world…well that studying lets volcanologists know volcanos do what the hell they want! The eruptive phase could peter out tomorrow. Or it could get worse, or carry on for months or years. We just don’t know.
The best guess is it will continue for at least days as the volcano will show slowing signs that it isn’t currently displaying. If the current Cycle will last weeks months or years is hard to say. It’s normally a few months before Pele has let off enough steam to go into a more restful phase. But remember Kilauea has been erupting since 1983! This could actually be the death throes of that eruptive event!
But really it is all Guesswork. Anyone tells you different they are lying.
UPDATE – As above this is all now Over!
Where to find more info.
There are tons of really good sites out there regularly updates by real volcanologists detailing exactly what is going on.
Whats going on with the Volcano? – the National Park Services official Page updated daily. This is our goto site and links to most others. If you are heading to Hawai’i bookmark this now!
Current Eruption Timeline – Just staggering images and videos from the Rift Zone, not helpful but WOW!
Air Quality Across Hawaii – Clearly showing Kona as the worst Affected.
UGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory – A real Science site, These Guys are the REAL deal. Take what the UGS says as Gospel …You will notice it’s quite different from the Press!
Sheraton Webcam – Current conditions in Kona
Bottom line – On any of the Islands apart from the Big Island there is practically zero effect from the Volcano. On the Big Island, there are Air Quality doubts along the Kona Coast and some days are very poor at the minute. But there is absolutely zero risk to life or health providing you follow all precautions handed down by the authorities.
Are you in Hawaii right now? Have you been recently? Let us know what the conditions were like. If you are planning a trip or are booked right now let us know if you have any questions? We hope we can allay your fears and help you have a trip of a lifetime. Just drop us a comment if you have anything to say.
All Images Courtesy of the UGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory