Hawaii is still safe for travel, despite scary images

Hawaii is still safe for travel, despite scary images

O’ahu, where Honolulu is located, is roughly as far from the eruption as Boston is from New York. (Source: USGS) O’ahu, where Honolulu is located, is roughly as far from the eruption as Boston is from New York. (Source: USGS)

(RNN) – A volcano eruption is, of course, a very scary event.

It's not, however, necessarily dangerous.

As Thursday's eruption at Kilauea, and recent and continuing volcanic activity there, has produced stark imagery and threatened some homes and the environment, it's also deterred large numbers of travelers from taking their Hawaiian vacations.

What people in the mainland U.S. may not be factoring in, is that there's more than one island to Hawaii, and the Big Island, where the eruptions are occurring, is indeed large.

If you were headed to O'ahu, for instance, the Hawaiian chain's most populous island and home to Honolulu, you'd be about 200 miles from the volcano. That's roughly the distance from New York City to Boston.

Even if you went to the closer, on the island of Maui, you’d be about the same distance from the volcano as New York is from Philadelphia.

The Big Island itself is about 4,000 square miles in size, the largest island in the U.S. That's about as big as Rhode Island and Delaware combined, meaning if you were literally on the same island as the eruptions, you'd have plenty of room to avoid them.

And people are, in fact, avoiding them. So far there haven't been any deaths or injuries from the eruptions.

Tourism officials have tried to stress the state remains "open for business."

"What I'm seeing is a lot of misinformation going around globally," George Szigeti, the Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, told Hawaii News Now. "It's very serious where it's happening, but the rest of the island is open for business."

Even on Thursday, as a particularly large eruption sent an ash plume 30,000 feet into the air, and then on Friday as lava "bombs" and fountains shot as high as 200 feet into the air, Governor David Ige's office issued an alert saying you'll be okay in Hawaii:

• Hawaii is Open for Business: There is absolutely no reason for visitors planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands to change or alter their leisure or business travel plans.

• Air Access: All flights into the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally.

• Accommodations and Activities: All accommodations, activities and attractions throughout the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii.

And a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii, Michael Garcia, told The New York Times on Thursday: "There's some hysteria at the moment but this isn't a very dangerous situation as long as warnings are heeded. The other islands in Hawaii are safe, as well as much of the Big Island."

A group even recently put in a round of golf with eruptions going on in the background, although going that far with it isn't quite advisable.

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