Now threatening a number of homes and the main street in the small Big Island community of Pahoa, Kilauea’s June 27 lava flow has attracted global media attention, prompting the destination’s tourism officials to remind travelers that the slow-moving molten rock is not a visitor attraction.
“It’s expected that people will want to get an up-close view of the active lava,” Ross Birch, the executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau, said in an Oct. 29 statement. “However, we, along with Hawaii County Civil Defense, are asking everyone to avoid the area for safety reasons and out of respect for the residents of the Pahoa area directly affected by the flow.”
Birch added that the flow is impacting a predominantly rural area on the Big Island’s east coast, where there is no major tourism infrastructure.
“Despite the recent developments, Hawaii, the Big Island is still open for business,” he said. “And there is no reason for travelers, who may already be on or headed to the island, to alter their vacation plans.”
Members of the Hawaii National Guard were dispatched to Pahoa Oct. 30 to help with security and to man roadblocks keeping nonresidents away from the molten lava.
As of Oct. 30, the 13-mile flow was just 500 feet from Pahoa Village Road, the community’s main street, according to USGS officials.