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VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

Oregon
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VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

Some people seem to regard the volcanic air pollution as a virtual plague and others seem not to notice. I'm curious how many people have felt like it was bad enough to seriously mess with the quality of their vacation.

I had another thread that turned into a discussion of vog, among other things, and thought it would be better to start anew on this topic.

I appreciate the advice of the DEs, who clearly thought it was a mistake to stay in the Kona area, but I'm curious how many people have stayed there a week or two and whether the vog was a big issue for them. I'm also reading that it's mainly an afternoon problem. Is that right?

We thought we'd booked two weeks in Hawaii, but now it sounds like two weeks in hell. We're trying to assess whether we need to just start over on our planning and eat the deposit, or at least some of it.

Jim

Chicagoland
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1. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

Vog *can* be nasty, or not. There's no telling, but in the main I wouldn't panic. Better in Kohala area than in Kona, but I wouldn't get all wobbly about Kona over this. I just don't care for Kona, but that's a different kettle of fish.

Some years ago we booked the same condo at Keauhou Surf & Racquet on two different vacations. We've also stayed a month in a house above the Keauhou shopping center -- where we could see air pollution beginning around 10 a.m. (You are not as aware when you are oceanfront.) We've stayed three times around the Waikoloa Beach Resort; hotel once, condos twice. We've always visited in winter months. I, personally, wouldn't book Big Island in autumn -- or anywhere in Hawaii in any season if A/C wasn't an option.

Where have you booked, and when?

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

We spent a week in Keauhou, about 5 miles south of Kailua-Kona last June. The VOG certainly wasn't a "vacation wrecker" but you can't help noticing it. Of the 7 (or 8?) nights we were there, I remember waking up to clear blue skies just once. Other mornings, if it wasn't cloudy, the horizon would be blurred by a grayish haze, tinting the sky with the same color.

We're planning to spend a week on the Big Island again this September. This time, we've reserved a condo in one of the many Mauna Lani Resort complexes. Any time we were along the Kohala coast last year, the skies were gloriously blue and clear.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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3. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

Are all of your two weeks booked in one spot? Because you could easily split up your trip if it is all on the Big Island - I would recommend spending at least a portion of that 2 weeks on the East side.

Unless it were horribly thick, I don't think it would wreck my Hawaiian vacation. I noticed a slight haze in Kona, but nothing at all on the Hilo side. Vog can/does travel to the other islands as well, but generally is not a vacation wrecker.

LA
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4. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

I've had multiple trips when vog was clearly present up in the south Kohala area- grey skies, no blue, and I sure wished I had those pretty blue skies to see. One in particular, when the volcanoe was really active was very noticeable and I wished I was on Maui or Kauai instead. Turns out they had bad vog, too.

I've only felt bad respiratory irritation when at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, down along Chain of Craters Road just as it dips down from the Pali.

I would consider it an annoyance, but not life-threatening or vacation ruining if the conditions remain like they have for the last couple of years. However, iIf anyone in your party had respiratory issues, especially asthma, I would never stay in Kona or farther south. Then it's really a medical concern rather than an annoyance.

However, one cannot predict how big the next puff of noxious gas from Kilauea will be.

Texas
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5. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

We leave tomorrow for 3 weeks in Kailua-Kona oceanfront. I'll try to give an update when we are there. I've gone to the big island since 1959, and stayed sometimes a week both at the Mauna Kea, Mauna Lani and in Kailua-Kona. The vog has not presented a problem to us at any time.

LA
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6. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

JimM- you can get an idea of the visible vog conditions by watching the Sheraton Keahou webcam:

livesurfcamhawaii.com/bigisland/keauhoubay.h…

I think your rental home is probably in the area when the webcam is oriented "home". Right now it looks very clear, more so than it has been for several days.

You can also get an idea by looking at the www.konaweb.com webcam which is at the very bottom of their page. You need to be looking south to see the triangle of grey haze on the horizon.

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

To clarify, I think there are a lot more reasons not to stay in Keauhou than the vog, and even if the volcano stopped erupting tomorrow, I would still not recommend it. But then I'm an ocean person, and having to drive hours every day through town traffic to find decent swimming and snorkeling beaches seems anathema to me on a Hawaii vacation.

As to the vog, I wouldn't call it a vacation wrecker but if you're paying extra for an ocean view house where you're not likely to get a very good ocean view or blue skies most days, it can be depressing. After almost 15 years in various Kona locations, I moved up to Hamakua a few

months ago largely to get away from the vog and I couldn't be happier. The contrast between the ocean and sky colors is shocking.

Nara, Japan
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8. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

Not sure why this is so, but be it Maui, Kauai, Oahu, or Big Island, I always tended to suffer overcast skies when having some coffee at my lanais in otherwise perfect settings in pale lights of dawn: soothing sounds of the sea broken ony by whistling birds.

Yes, turned out bright sunny days later on 99percent of the time. But if there's one island I know that didn't is BI. Came just thrice to Kohala Coast BI, though. Last time I was here, 3years back in May, I had a hunch when the plane was approaching Kona: the sky was all grey as far as I could see, no crevices of lights visible anywhere. A big contrast to what I'd had in the beginning of Sep a couple of years before, where I couldn't hope for more, weather-wise. Maybe it's the wind that matters since the volcano is active 24/7/365. That said, how I wished there'd been a pre-warning on vog and other volcanic activities so you could change your arrival date! ;) Yet coming from a like-minded island myself, I know that's well-nigh impossible. So meanwhile there's nothing for it but to pray for pele on my part for future trips to my beloved island.

British Columbia...
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9. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

I haven't been to the BI yet, but we have experienced vog on Maui. Our son has asthma and he had to use his puffers to help him breathe. We were staying at the FS Maui so he was able to stay indoors most of the time with a/c at kid's camp during the day. it helped him to not be bored. I don't have asthma but I found the air heavy and muggy. The sky wasn't blue. Kind of like being in an area with really bad pollution in the summer time.

We're going on to the BI for the first time at the end of the month and I was glad I learned where to stay from the DE's on the BI with less chance of vog. It's important to us.

Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: VOG, vacation wrecker or not that big a deal?

While there can be vog on the Kohala coast, it's relatively rare. By contrast it is voggy to some degree in Kailua Kona and Keauhou about 75-80% of the time. Also, the Kohala Coast gets a lot more sunny days, so even when there's vog up there, you can still enjoy some blue skies and blue ocean. When you mix vog and the frequent afternoon clouds in Kailua Kona, we call it clog, and that's very unpleasant to look at.

As far as health issues go, for visitors it varies. Some people notice breathing problems, headaches, tiredness. Others aren't affected at all. As noted below if you have asthma or any immune deficiencies or lung conditions, it's important to consider carefully your lodging choice.

Edited: 06 May 2013, 20:41