It looks like I missed all of Mother Nature’s doings on the Big Island of Hawai’i recently. My hubby and I spent a week on the Big Island in early February. A month later, Kilauea became quite active, spewing lava as high as 80 ft. On March 11, a tsunami hit Hawai’i Island, following a 9.0 earthquake on the east coast of Japan.
According to tourism officials from the Big Island Visitors Bureau, the island (particularly the Kona District) sustained some damage from the tsunami, but the impact on visitors has been minimal. Some hotels and businesses along the Kona and Kohala coasts received significant damage and were flooded with sea water and debris. But many are now up and running.
There were a number of erroneous reports circulating, a common occurence after such such an incident. Contrary to such reports, King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua Village is open, and sustained no damage to guest rooms. Only the public areas were affected, and the hotel said most of the guests chose to stay at the hotel, while others opted to relocate elsewhere. The hotel’s BIllfish Bar reopened on Sunday.
Also, the Kailua Pier was not condemned by the U.S. Coast Guard as reported. According to tourism officials, the Coast Guard doesn’t have the authority to condemn the pier. A number of boat charters are still operating out of the pier, including whale watching and historical cruises with Body Glove Hawaii.
On the Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai remains closed so staff can survey the damage from the tsunami. Guests have been relocated elsewhere, and the resort is scheduled to reopen on March 21, 2011. The Kona Village Resort is temporarily closed.
The National Park Service has closed Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park indeifnitely. Kaloko-Honokohau National Park is open, but the unimproved road leading to Kaloko Fishpond is closed.The Hulihe’e Palace is also temporarily closed due to flooding in the basement. Fortunately, the artifacts were successfully relocated.
There were no deaths or serious injuries reported as a result of Friday’s tsunami. All airports are open, flights are on time and nearly all roads (including Ali’i Drive in Kailua Village) are now open.
Kilauea volcano active
Inland on the island, Kilauea volcano’s new eruption site that cracked open on March 5 in a remote and inaccessible part of Hawaii Volanices National Park is in pause mode. The latest eruption caused the crater floor of Pu’u O’o to collapse. Orange lava as high as 80 feet shot up from fissures located a mile between Napau and Pu’u O’o craters.
Although the park and most of its overlooks remain open, there are closures: A portion of the Chain of Craters Road; east rift and coastal trails; and the Kulanaokuaiki Campground. The Kilauea Visitors Center and Jaggar Museum are open, and park rangers are sharing their latest real-time videos, photos and information. The temporary flight restriction was removed by the FAA on March 7, so flight-seeing trips have resumed.
For visitors, the reopened six mile stretch of the upper Chain of Craters Road winds past pit craters, lava trees and fields of pahoehoe lava. It’s possible to hike three miles roundtrip over lava flows and climb to the top of a 150-ft. cinder cone. At the top (on a clear day), the views include Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Pacific Ocean.
Another crater, Halema’uma’u, bottomed out recently. Its rising lava lake within the vent dropped out the weekend of March 5-6. A brilliant red glow is often visible after dark, and rocks cascade down the crater walls, creating loud rumblings audible from the overlook at Jagger Museum.
For current Kilauea status reports, updates and information click on the link to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.