Kona and Kohala are​ still open for Business!


This week, I’ve had plenty of guests express to me that they contemplated canceling their trip to the Big Island because of the volcanic activity.  “The news had me thinking that the entire island was about to be covered in lava and ash!” said a woman visiting from New York.  “I almost canceled our trip.” she continued.  It was a good thing that she decided to contact the Kona hotel, that she booked with.  They informed her that Hawaii Island is big, and the volcano, as well as the new fissures are about 100 miles away and that she would be in no danger of lava on her trip.

On May 3rd, Kilauea began spitting out lava from new vents forming in the middle of a Southern East coast subdivision, Leilani Estates.  This news, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, has been extremely sensationalized.  This fear-based news coverage has caused many people to cancel their trips to the Big Island.  Bookings for hotels, tours, and other activities have experienced a 50% decline. Tally up the costs, May-July, to the tune of 5 million dollars!

Perhaps now would be a good time to take advantage of great deals, as airlines and business would like everyone to know that most of the island is not threatened by the lava flow.

“Travelers can enjoy their vacation experience in the Hawaiian Islands to the fullest, with the only word of caution being that they stay out of areas closed to the public for their own safety.”

                          -George D. Szigeti, president, and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

Tourism is one of Hawaii’s biggest industries and a big part of the local economy.  Yes, lava is flowing.  Yes, structures (including about 27 homes) have been destroyed.  The mainstream national news would have you believe that it is the entire State and not a remote area of The BIG Island. There are thousands of people still arriving at Kona and Hilo airports and enjoying this beautiful island.  Today people; swam with dolphins in the pristine blue water, went on deep ocean fishing expeditions, hiked amazing trails, and enjoyed the amenities of world-class resorts. The Hilton Waikoloa Village has been operating at about full capacity since the eruption. The Hilton, just as the other breathtaking hotels of the Kohala coast, is not affected by the current volcanic activity.   Now, if you booked your stay at a bed and breakfast in Leilani Estates or the surrounding area, yes, you may want to reconsider.  Hawi, Waimea, and Kona-Kohala are still open for you to enjoy!  Hope to see you in the Kona sun!

Kilauea Is Not Mount Vesuvius!

By now, I think the entire world is aware of the latest volcanic activity of Kilauea on Hawaii Island.

As serious as the situation is, the corporate news outlets have used sensational headlines such as: “Volcano erupts in Hawaii forcing thousands to evacuate!”, “Volcano alert urges Hawaii’s Big Island residents to get out!”, and “Hawaii residents flee after Kilauea volcano eruptions”.  All of these statements are correct but designed to promote fear and panic, instead of informing.
I am not trying to downplay the severity of this event at all.  I just think, for the people outside of Hawai’i Island, especially those that have family and friends here, have been whipped into a frenzy by the corporate news coverage.  Images of Mount Saint Helen’s or Pompeii comes to their minds (Plinian Eruptions) when they hear of an imminent volcano eruption.  There were even erroneous reports of Oahu residence being evacuated because of the volcanic eruption (No need to call out that network.  All local people are hip to who it was.). Oahu is an entirely different island. Why would they be so careless in their coverage?  TV networks need people to tune into their channel.  The thinking is; the more sensational the story, the more viewers they will attract.  The more viewers they attract, the more they can charge advertisers.  It’s all about revenue (topic for another time.).

Hawaii Island Map of East Rift Zone
New Fissures Along the East Rift Zone

Here are a few points that I think people should be mindful of:

  • Kilauea has been flowing since 1983
  • Kilauea is a shield volcano with a very different eruption style than a composite cone (aka stratovolcano)
  • As of today (May 8th) 37 structures have been lost to the lava flow. Yes, people have lost their homes and it is possible that there will be more
  • Leilani Estates and Lanipuna subdivisions have been evacuated, approximately 1800, displaced from their homes with an uncertainty of ever being able to return to them
  • Sulfur dioxide is emanating from the eruption site, making it a dangerous situation for the young, elderly, and those with respiratory conditions.
  • NO ONE has died or been injured
  • This is precisely how the Hawaiian Islands were formed

If you would like to take a break from all of the sensational presentations of what’s going on, I encourage you to visit the site links below:

U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site:  Click Here

County of Hawaii’s Civil Defence:
Message and alerts page Click Here

If you would like to support the displaced families of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna, please contact the following initiatives and groups for info on how you can help:

Grassroots community led Pu’uhonua o Puna.  For their FaceBook page Click Here
Hilo-born Major League Baseball player Kolten Wong, of the St. Louis Cardinals, is leading a GoFundMe campaign for the families: Click Here

Hawaii Island Map of Lava History
Lava Has Been Flowing For Years


Hawaii Island Hazard Zones
Lava Hazard Zones

Interesting People, Interesting Conversations

Kailua-Kona, Travel
D The Driver, serving Hawaii Island

What does an Admiral of a British Royal Navy submarine, a South Korean car engineer, a billion-dollar real estate broker, and major recording artist have in common?   Me!  They have all rode with me (Not all at the same time. Although that would be interesting. Lol), while visiting the Kona-Kohala Coast! Lol.  I enjoy engaging in conversations with interesting people.  And to get paid while doing so is frosting on the cake.

Kailua-Kona transportation
Photo by Joel Collins.

It’s not lost on me that there are some people, at times, that are not interested in speaking during our 20-35 minute commute.  Whether they need to send emails, texts, or just catch a quick nap, it is incumbent on me, to identify those times and keep quiet.  But for the most part, people ARE interested in engaging.

I’m not a star-struck individual.  I believe people are people.     However, I am fascinated by all people.  Each of us has a journey, and each path is unique.  It’s these paths, and how we process the experiences, that differentiates our perspectives. Music and movie celebrities are interesting to me but no more interesting than any individual that has distinguished themselves in their respective field.  I guess I’m just curious about how different folks are navigating their life experience.  Each person that enters my vehicle is the sum total of their journey, thus far.  The work they choose, the way they view various events taking place in the world.  I feel enriched when people share their stories and perspectives.

Last week I had the honor of transporting a noted liver specialist.  “There are five major organs in the human body, how did you reach the decision to specialize in the liver?”  I asked the good Dr.  He lit up in his response.  Speaking of all the wonderful functions of the liver. From filtering toxins from our blood to the storage of vitamins “It’s a fascinating organ!”, he expressed.  Although he would not be as known as an entertainer or professional athlete, he and other professionals have reached a level of success that would make them “rock stars” in their respective industries.  I’m interested in everyone, but I know, generally, people want to know about “high profile” figures.

Have I driven celebrities? Yes. Do I broadcast who has ridden with me? No.
From time to time people ask me “What celebrities have I driven?”  I always answer “Everyone that rides with me are V.I.P!”.

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