Hawaii Today edited by Derek Paiva Page: 1 2 Next>>

Hawaii_Maui_airlines_hotel_visitors_travelHere’s a bit of Hawaii travel news: Alaska Airlines is offering an escape to Maui from likely weather forecasts of rain and snow in the Mainland’s Northwest region; Maui’s first airport hotel opens; and recent visitor travel in Hawaii is on the rise.

Alaska Airlines announced this week that it’s launching new seasonal service between Bellingham, Wash., and Kahului, Maui. The carrier is now offering one-way introductory fares for as low as $179 for travel between Nov. 8 and Dec. 24, 2012. If you would like pick up an introductory ticket, you’ll have to move quickly as tickets must be purchased by Tues., July 3.

In a news release issued by Alaska Airlines, Joe Sprague, vice president of marketing, said: “Our growing service out of Bellingham gives customers across western Washington and southern British Columbia more ways to reach sunny Hawaii."  Bellingham International Airport is 22 miles south of the Canadian border.Hawaii_Maui_airlines_hotel_visitors_travel

The Maui-Bellingham seasonal service is slated to include four weekly flights, between Nov. 8, 2012 and April 14, 2013. For additional information about the service and related fees, click here.

Maui’s first airport hotel, tailored for both leisure and business travelers, opened last week in Kahului. The Courtyard by Marriott is a four-story, 138-room hotel located near Kahului Airport and close to Maui’s business, commercial and governmental center. The hotel’s project’s reported price tag of $30 million, included $16.5 million in construction costs. 
The hotel aims to fill a gap between luxury hotels and budget lodging options. Its lobby features: interactive LCD touch screens, each loaded with maps, weather and news, business and sports headlines; a “business center” that allows guests to check e-mail and print documents; and semi-enclosed “Media Pods” decked with flat-panel TVs. Hawaii_Maui_airlines_hotel_visitors_travel

Marriott now has more than one dozen hotel and timeshare properties on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Its first hotel in the Islands — the Maui Marriott at Kaanapali — opened in 1981.

Plans to build a hotel near the airport first took shape about a decade ago but were put on hold by economic concerns. Alexander & Baldwin Inc. secured county approvals, including a zoning change in 2002, and later shelved building plans because of high construction costs. Hotel construction got under way in April 2011. For more information about the hotel, click here.

•  According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more visitors are traveling to the Islands. During May 2012, the total visitor tally was 622,899, an increase of 12.5 percent over the tally for May 2011 (599,842 visitors.)

Officials note that the summer season is expected to bring even higher monthly tallies due in part to new direct airline service including: Hawaiian Airlines’ New York flight and United Airlines’ Washington D.C. flight, which are now under way. Also, for the first time, Nevada-based Allegiant Airlines is providing air service to Hawaii, with Las Vegas and Fresno flights. Today, the first flight from Las Vegas touched down at Honolulu International Airport on Oahu. The new flight from Fresno, Calif., is slated to arrive in Honolulu on Sun., July 1.

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Photos: (top) Makena Beach, Maui/Tad Lewis; (middle) near Hookipa Beach, Maui/Lisa Taylor; (bottom) Haleakala crater, Maui/David A. Sizemore

Hawaii_Volcano_Kilauea_hulaFor more than three decades, Volcano Art Center has coordinated Hula Kahiko (ancient hula) presentations for the public at the sacred pa hula (hula platform) near Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This weekend, the center will present an addition to this year’s Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko lineup that aims to provide spectators with a short education about the cultural significance tied to Hula Kahiko. A Hula Kahiko Informance, presented by kumu hula Leilehua Yuen and her husband, musician Manu Josiah (pictured, below), is slated for 10:30 a.m. on Sat., June 30. If you go, bring a mat and sun/rain gear. The 50-minute event is free, but you will have to pay the park entry fee.

During the informance, the couple will discuss behind-the-scenes preparations for the Hula Kahiko such as the gathering of lei foliage and the art of weaving the lei; traditions tied to the dancer’s costume; and meanings linked to dance steps. Yuen will present a hula at the end of the event.Hawaii_Volcano_Kilauea_hula
Various other cultural demonstrations will be available to visitors between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday on the front porch of the Volcano Art Center Gallery.

The center is on Crater Rim Drive, not far from a visitor outlook area at the edge of Kilauea volcano’s summit where, for the last four years, Halemaumau crater has been emitting a billowing plume of gas and ash. At nighttime, the crater is marked by a brilliant red glow cast by the crater’s below-surface lava lake.  

The next traditional Hula Kahiko is set for 10:30 on Sat., July 7 at the center. Click here to see the full 2012 Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko schedule. 

For more information about events at Volcanoes National Park, click here.

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Photos: (top) Hula Kahiko/Dave Gallagher; (bottom) Leilehua Yuen and Manu Josiah/Kenji Kuroshima (Volcano Art Center)

Hawaii_Big_Island_endangered_birds For the first time in 30 years, three of the Big Island’s rarest endangered forest birds have been detected at lower elevations of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. The findings are spurring hope among scientists for recovery efforts. 

The rediscovery of the birds at lower elevations along volcanic summits occurred during a joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey project on the potential impact of climate change on avian disease.

All three species — Hawaii Creeper, Hawaii Akepa and Aiapolaau — are believed to be highly susceptible to mosquito-transmitted diseases. Consequently, their dwelling areas — once concentrated in lower elevations — have been pushed to the cooler, higher elevations. According to a joint news release issued this week by the federal agencies, “these new observations significantly extend the current known range of these species at the refuge.” Hawaii_Big_Island_endangered_birds

In the release, USGS biologist Jackie Gaudioso said: "Most native Hawaiian forest birds are very susceptible to two introduced mosquito-transmitted diseases — avian malaria and pox virus — and are limited to higher-elevation areas of the refuge, mostly above the current range of mosquitos."
USGS Director Marcia McNutt said: “Hawaii’s native birds face multiple threats from habitat destruction, invasive species, introduced diseases, and climate change, with many already having been driven to extinction.”

McNutt added, “The observation of three endangered species possibly expanding their range in a wildlife refuge gives us hope that with some care, the road to extinction need not be a one-way street.”

Scientists from the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center and the USFWS Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge heard the songs of the Hawaii Creeper (Oreomystis mana) and Hawaii Akepa (Loxops coccineus) at an elevation of 4200 feet near Awehi Stream, within one mile of where they were last observed by biologists during the 1977 Hawaii Forest Bird Survey. In addition, they were particularly encouraged by “visual and aural detections” of at least one endangered Aiapolaau (Hemignathus munroi). at 4200 feet, which is 1000 feet lower in elevation from previous sightings in the 1970s. Hawaii_Big_Island_endangered_birds

USFWS wildlife biologist Steve Kendall said: "Detecting these endangered forest bird species is encouraging because of the serious challenges these birds face, including the expansion of disease due to global climate change, competition with introduced non-native birds, introduced predators, and habitat destruction from feral ungulates (hooved mammals)."

Surveys of forest habitats on the Big Island in the late 1970s and early ‘80s indicated that the best remaining habitats and largest native bird populations were in the high-elevation rainforests on the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea. This led to the establishment of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge in 1985, which aims to protect and manage endangered forest birds and their habitats. It’s the only national wildlife refuge dedicated to conservation and restoration of Hawaiian forest birds.
The Hakalau Forest refuge is one of few places on the Big Island where populations of native forest birds are increasing or at least stable. Scientists maintain that ongoing studies at the refuge may shed some additional light on whether the trio of endangered forest birds are holding their own or recovering at lower elevations.

For more information about recovery efforts for the rare birds, click here.

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Photos: (top) Hawaii Akepa, (middle) Hawaii Creeper, (bottom) Akiapolaau — all photographed in Kulani Forest, Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve, Big Island (1992)/Carter T. Atkinson, U.S. Geological Survey

Hawaii_Oahu_music_Makaha_Sons_John Kapualani Koko, a longtime member of the Makaha Sons — a popular traditional Hawaii music trio that played twice at Carnegie Hall and before President Bill Clinton — died yesterday on Oahu. Koko was 51.

Koko had been contending with longtime heart problems and was pursuing plans to undergo a heart transplant, according to local print and broadcast media reports

The stand-up acoustic bass musician was born on Aug. 24, 1960 and raised in Nanakuli, Oahu. In his biography, posted on the Makaha Sons’ website, Koko noted that his music career started at age 12 with a group called “Na Leo O Nankuli, which performed at the Makaha Sheraton in the early 1970s.

Also in the biography, Koko lists some highlights of his musical career including: two performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City; performing for President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton; and winning his first Na Hoku Hanohano award (the Hawaii music industry’s equivalent of the Grammys.)

The Makaha Sons of Niihau began taking shape in the mid-1970s. Over the years, the group has reorganized several times. The group became a trio and changed its name to Makaha Sons in 1993, after well-known Hawaiian singer Israel “Bruddah Iz” Kaanaoi Kamakawiwoole left the group to pursue a solo career.

The current trio’s other members are Koko’s brother Jerome (12-string guitar) and Louis "Moon" Kauakahi (six-string guitar). John Kapualani Koko was a member of the group for three decades. Over the years, the group helped to popularize Hawaiian music and won several awards, including Na Hoku Hanohano awards and other Hawaii music awards.

Koko is survived by his wife, Tonia, four sons and two grandchildren. For more information about Koko and the Makaha Sons, click here.

VIDEO: The Makaha Sons performing Kui Lee's "I'll Remember You".

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Photo: Makaha Sons

Hawaii_Honolulu_Oahu_ukulele_music_showsDuring early evening hours today, or on any Wednesday through Aug. 8, the sweet sounds of guitars and ukuleles will be drifting over the hedges at the Waikiki area’s Honolulu Zoo.

Inside the zoo, on a stage overlooking a cool, grassy lawn, Honolulu Zoo’s Wildest Show in Town is holding its 26th annual summer concert series. Gates open at 4:35 p.m., and, unless otherwise specified, the hour-long shows start at 6 p.m. Roy Sakuma, a longtime ukulele teacher/music producer and organizer of the annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii (held in Kapiolani Park each July), will serve as emcee.

Sakuma (pictured on stage, below) who, since the mid-1970s, has taught thousands of ukulele students at his Oahu studios, will perform this Wednesday with a group of youngsters dubbed “Super Keiki.”  

The Honolulu Zoo Society maintains that the show is Oahu’s longest-running summer series and remains among the most affordable. Admission is $3 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Honolulu Zoo Society, which focuses on conservation education programs.Hawaii_Honolulu_Oahu_ukulele_music_shows

A finale fundraiser, featuring a performance by Ho okena, is set for Sat., Aug. 11. Tickets for the closing show may be purchased at Wednesday evening events. For additional information about tickets, click here.  There will be two drawings at evening the events, one for an adult ukulele and the other for a keiki ukulele.

Here’s the rest of the performance lineup for the 2012 Wildest Show in Town series:

June 27 — Roy Sakuma and his Super Keiki

July 4 — Frank Delima

July 11 — Manoa DNA

July 18 — Ohta San (pictured, above) & Nando Suan (5 p.m., guest ukulele performers from around the world)

July 25 — Daniel & Nelly Baduria

Aug. 1 — Jimmy Borges & his Jazz All Stars

Aug. 8 — Sean Na auao

Aug. 11— Ho okena

Concertgoers may purchase refreshments offered by the zoo’s concessionaire. Beach blankets and low-slung seating are welcome. Leave high-back chairs at home. Also, alcohol will not be permitted on the grounds. This year's series is organized by the nonprofit Honolulu Zoo Society and sponsored by McDonalds Restaurants of Hawaii. For additional information about the concert series and the zoo, click here.

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Photos: (top) Ohta San/Shane Tegarden Photography; (bottom) Roy Sakuma addressing crowd at show/ Honolulu Zoo Society

Hawaii_Oahu__Maui_Kauai_Big_Island_Lanai_Molokai_Street_View_This week, Google has added scores of interactive-panoramic images of popular Hawaii visitor attractions to its Google Street View gallery.

A post on Google’s official blog notes that its expanded Street View of Scenic Hawaii, which now zooms in on everything from beach parks to volcanic lava fields and historic landmarks to shoreline resorts, aims to take viewers on a “virtual vacation to paradise.”

We checked out the imagery, which covers six islands, and found it handy for exploring the visual layout of everything from walking paths edging Oahu beach parks, such as the south shore’s Sans Souci (also known as Kaimana Beach), to a visitor outlook area near Kilauea volcano’s Halemaumau crater in the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.Hawaii_Oahu__Maui_Kauai_Big_Island_Lanai_Molokai_Street_View_

Google’s Street View, which got under way five years ago, now features 360-degree virtual tours in 39 countries — at street-level and beyond. Viewing footage is gathered by way of high-tech cameras fitted to vehicles and pedicabs. A Street View Trike, which leaves the street to snap shots along the strolling grounds of attractions, such as Pearl Harbor’s World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, started pedaling around Hawaii about three years ago.

Here are some Scenic Hawaii highlights: (Oahu) Waikiki Beach, Waimea Bay and Iolani Palace; (Maui) oceanfront resorts in Kaanapali and the Road to Hana; (Big Island) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Kea; (Kauai) Waimea Canyon, Hanalei and Poipu; (Molokai) coastline; and (Lanai) Hulopoe Bay.

For a complete list of Hawaii Street View locations, click here.

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Photos: (top) Molokai coastline/David Croxford (bottom) ash-and-gas plume rising from lava lake in Kilauea volcano's Halemaumau crater/Jay Robinson, National Park Service

Hawaii_Lanai_Maui_Dole_Oracle_Murdock_Ellison_OahuLarry Ellison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, the world’s largest business software company, is now wrapping up a deal that will make him the owner of all but a small slice of Lanai.

With 90,000 acres of land, including a total of nearly 50 miles of coastline, Lanai — the state of Hawaii’s smallest publically accessible island — is believed to be the largest privately held island in the United States. (The County of Maui owns 195.98 acres of the Pineapple Isle and leases 21.43 acres from Castle & Cooke, Inc., which is privately held by billionaire David Murdock.)

According to a statement released yesterday by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s office, the current landowner, Castle & Cooke, Inc. has filed a transfer application with the Public Utilities Commission to sell about 98 percent of Lanai to Ellison. The closing of the real estate deal is subject to final government approval. 

Also in the statement, Abercrombie said: “It is my understanding that Mr. Ellison has had a long-standing interest in Lanai. His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing. He is also a businessman whose record of community involvement in medical research and education causes is equally notable.”Hawaii_Lanai_Maui_Dole_Oracle_Murdock_Ellison_Oahu

Earlier this week, sources linked to the pending sale confirmed that a potential buyer had been lined up but remained tight-lipped about the buyer’s identity. Even so, rumors zipping around the Islands ranked Ellison, who has a home on Lanai among the likely bidders.

The Maui News has reported that the asking price is estimated at between $500 million and $600 million for the largely undeveloped patch of paradise — most of the 430 miles of roads are unpaved and there are no stoplights. At its widest point, Lanai's terrain stretches for 18 miles between shorelines. The sale price has yet to be publically disclosed.

In a news release issued yesterday by Castle & Cooke, Murdock said: “For more than a quarter of a century, I have been a major owner in the private island of Lanai and have enjoyed being part of the island community as it progressed through numerous social and economic changes.”

He continued: “Lanai has been my passion for years and I have made huge investments of money, time and energy for the betterment of the island economy and its residents. I built my island home there and will continue to remain a homeowner of Lanai. I have enjoyed my time with the many positive people of Lanai and remain forever grateful for the opportunity to have made a positive difference in Lanai’s present as well as its future.”Hawaii_Lanai_Maui_Dole_Oracle_Murdock_Ellison_Oahu

In addition to his home on Lanai, Murdock will retain the rights to develop a potential wind farm on the remote northwestern part of the island. Murdock has clashed with some residents over the project, which has proposed placing windmills on up to 20 square miles and delivering power to Oahu through an undersea cable. Among other things, opponents have said it could ruin pristine views of the Pacific Ocean and other Hawaiian islands.

More than 3,200 residents live on Lanai and about 26,000 tourists visited the island in the first quarter of this year, according to the state figures.

Castle & Cooke, which Murdock owns, and Dole Food Company, Inc., of which he is the major shareholder, have long histories in the state of Hawaii. Murdock said the Lanai sale will allow his Castle & Cooke management team to focus on Oahu assets.

Twelve years ago, Murdock reportedly bought out Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million. Murdock closed the island’s long-standing pineapple operations and opened two luxury resorts, both managed by the Four Seasons Resorts. Among other efforts, he opened a utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm on Lanai.

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Photos: (top) Puu Pehe “Sweetheart Rock”/David Croxford; (middle) Polihua Beach (Molokai in background)/Hawaii Tourism Japan; (bottom) terrrain between Lanaihale — the highest point on the island — and shoreline/David Croxford 

Hawaii_Lanai_saleWant to buy your own Hawaiian island? Of course, you do. Opportunity to snap up Lanai surfaced late last year when its Los Angeles-based billionaire owner reportedly put the smallest of the state’s publically accessible islands up for sale.

Still interested? Better move quickly. According to buzzing local news reports and news wire service dispatches, David Murdock, who took control of 98 percent the Pineapple Isle as part of his purchase of Castle & Cooke Hawaii Inc., now has a potential buyer lined up. 

Who? Sources linked to the matter, such as Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa (Lanai is part of Maui County) have said they’re sworn to secrecy. However, rumors zipping around the Islands by way of various media outlets note two names (both high-tech heavyweights): Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO. Gates and his wife, Melinda, rented the entire island for their wedding in 1994. And Ellison has a home on the island.
Still considering a bid? You’ll need a heavy purse. The Maui News has reported that the asking price is between $500 million and $600 million for the largely undeveloped patch of paradise — 140.5 squares miles with no stoplights. Hawaii_Lanai_sale

A previous owner, James Dole, president of Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later renamed Dole Food Company), bought the entire island in the early 1920s and developed most of it as a pineapple plantation. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Lanai was folded into Maui County. (The state controls 2 percent of the island.)

In 1985, Murdock (Dole’s CEO) took control of most of the island as a result of his purchase of Castle & Cooke, a company that was once part of the “Big Five” agriculture-focused companies in territorial Hawaii, during the early 20th century. These days, most of its business is in real estate and residential/commercial development.

Twelve years ago, Murdock reportedly bought out Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million and took the company private. Murdock closed the island’s long-standing pineapple operations and opened two luxury resorts, both managed by the Four Seasons Hotels.

UPDATE, 6/20/2012, 2:40 p.m. HST:
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper is reporting, based on state documents filed today, that Oracle Corp. co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison is buying the island of Lanai from David Murdock.

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Photos: (top) Puu Pehe “Sweetheart Rock,” (bottom) sunrise on Lanai/ David Croxford

Hawaii_Oahu_Honolulu_art_museum_tattooThe Tattoo Honolulu exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art focuses on Hawaii’s high quality of tattoo art and its origins in the islands’ mix of cultures rich with tattoo traditions.

In a news release issued by the museum, its director, Stephan Jost said: “Most artists believe that the basis of great art is drawing.” He continued, “And tattoo artists in Hawaii are incredible draftsmen. They use this skill to create extraordinary tattoos. Add to that Polynesian, Asian, and military cultures, and the result is that Honolulu is now recognized as one of the world’s tattoo meccas.”

The museum is in a position to draw upon its world-class collection to place contemporary tattooing within an art historical context. By linking the past — through works such as 19th-century prints by Jacques Arago depicting tattooed Hawaiians — with the present, the museum hopes to expand cultural awareness not only about the art of the tattoo, but also the rich cultural traditions it is based on.

The exhibition, which opened last week and will wrap up in January, 2013, presents 10 tattoo masters as contemporary artists, revealing their skills, ideas and sensibilities through photographs of the bodies on which they have drawn.

Also, the exhibition highlights tattooing’s foundation of rich and diverse cultural traditions found in Hawaii today, featuring Hawaiian, American, Japanese and Polynesian cultures. For example, on view will be 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints that are the source of many contemporary tattoos. The curators also focus on military and mariner tattoo traditions, 18th-century western drawings depicting Pacific Islanders bearing tattoos, textiles and their rich link to Polynesian tattoos, and the tools used by the artists.

For additional information about the exhibit and others at the Honolulu Museum of Art, click here.

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Photo: "Pahu Pahu on Keliiokalani Makua, Uhi," tattoo artwork by Keone Nunes (Hawaii); photographed by Shuzo Uemoto/Honolulu Museum of Art


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  has reopened the section of Crater Rim Drive near the Devastation Trail parking lot to Keanakakoi crater. Also reopened to hikers: a portion of Crater Rim Trail that leads from Chain of Craters Road to the south side of Keanakakoi. The crater is situated on the boundary faults which encircle Kilauea Volcano's summit.

Nearly one mile of Crater Rim Drive (0.8 miles, to be exact) is now open to hikers, and visitors can enjoy an easygoing roundtrip walk through koa and ohia forest on pavement all the way to the Keanakakoi crater overlook. Across the road, another overlook provides panoramic views of Halemaumau crater and Mauna Loa.


The park has also reopened about 0.7 miles of Crater Rim Trail from Chain of Craters Road, just north of Lua Manu crater. This section of trail winds through native forest, edging the flows of 1974, and leads to the south side of Keanakakoi crater. A news release issued by the National Park Service last week notes that both routes offer an abundance of diverse and breathtaking views.

The park closed Crater Rim Drive from Jaggar Museum (next to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory) to Chain of Craters Road and portions of Crater Rim Trail for public safety after Halemaumau began to erupt in March 2008 and volcanic fumes caused poor air quality. Halemaumau continues to erupt, and Crater Rim Drive remains closed from Keanakakoi to Jaggar Museum.

In the news release, Park Ranger and Chief of Interpretation Jim Gale said: “Thanks to a new sulfur dioxide monitoring network, and an increase in air quality monitoring tools at our fingertips, we can effectively evaluate air quality conditions.” Gale added, “We encourage park visitors to take advantage of the newly opened section of road and trail.”  

According to the Park Service, Keanakakoi crater likely formed during the 1400s, during Kilauea’s great summit collapses. Until 1877, Hawaiian kahuna kakoi (carving experts) sought the crater’s superior and rare basaltic rock for making ko i, or adze heads. Bound to a sturdy au ko i (wooden handle), this valuable tool was used to carve vital objects like canoes and structures for houses. The adze quarry was covered by lava in 1877, and again during the fissure eruption in July 1974. Today, the crater floor is 115 feet deep.

The Keanakakoi area may still experience high levels of volcanic fumes with changing wind conditions. Should this happen, the park will temporarily close the site to visitation. Interpretive signage in the area features a QR code for smart phones, which connects to the Hawaii SO2 Network website.

For daily updates on Kilauea volcano activity, issued by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, click here.

HawaiiMagazine.com has reported regularly on lava activity at Kilauea volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Click here to catch up with all of our Volcano News posts. You can also follow our updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Photos: National Park Service (top) Keanakakoi crater overlook, off of Crater Rim Drive; (bottom) Keanakakoi crater, viewed from its south side. The volcanic plume is from Halemaumau crater. Also, Mauna Loa is visible in the photo.
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