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Hawaii Volcano:
What Travelers Need to Know
By JEANNE COOPER
HTA/Andrew Richard Hara
Hawaii is Open for Business—and Beautiful as Always
From my cottage at Puakea Ranch, near the northern tip of the island of Hawaii, I can see a rainbow arching through the pale blue sky over the bright green hills, the wind gently rippling the deep blue ocean below. Native white hibiscus with jaunty pink stamens and fragrant white plumeria blossom all around me, while saffron finches flutter through swaying palm trees.
  
Some, including me, would call this paradise. But if I check my social media or news alerts, apparently I'm in hell.
  
A constant stream of videos and photos depict the island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) as an inferno of fountaining lava, burning homes, billowing toxic clouds and raining ash. News reports that omit geographic and scientific context, and lead with fear-mongering headlines, imply no limit to the erupting Kilauea volcano's range, or reign, of destruction.
  
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All of Hawaii's Islands Are Volcanoes
Guess what? If you've been to Hawaii since 1983, you've experienced a volcanic eruption and lived to tell the tale.
All of the main islands of Hawaii were formed by shield volcanoes, which built up from the sea floor as magma slowly oozed from the earth's oceanic crust between 700,000 and 5 million years ago.
  
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It's Easy to Avoid Lava, Laze, Ash and Vog
Pololu Valley - HTA/Tor Johnson
To read many reports, you'd think these hazards of a volcanic eruption were everywhere, unexpected and unprecedented on Hawaii Island. But that's simply not true, as the daily updates of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and state and local air quality monitoring, both show. The recent fissures that have created pools and fountains of lava first began as cracks in Kilauea's Lower East Rift Zone, appearing after a series of mostly small earthquakes that led the observatory to warn residents of possible eruptions.
  
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Nearly All Visitor Attractions Remain Open and Safe
Waipio Valley - HTA/Tor Johnson
Although the Kilauea summit area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed "out of an abundance of caution," according to park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane, there's still plenty to do on the island of Hawaii, from active pursuits such as ziplining, snorkeling, surfing, horseback riding and hiking to indulgent pastimes such as shopping and dining.
  
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Hawaiians Celebrate Pele as Creation
HTA/Jonathan Irish
Although everyone sympathizes with those who have lost homes in the current eruption – whose location is not far from similar eruptions that claimed homes in 1990, 1960 and 1955 – Native Hawaiians also celebrate the creation aspect of the natural force or deity they call Pele.
  
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Kilauea Quick Facts
CAN I VISIT THE ISLAND OF HAWAII?
IS LAVA EVERYWHERE?
SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT VOG OR LAZE?
HOW CAN I SEE THE LAVA?
  
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