Last Friday, Hawai’i Island, especially the Kona District, sustained some damage from the tsunami generated by an earthquake near Japan, but nearly all hotels, businesses and attractions are open, tourism officials said.
On Fri., Mar. 11, a tsunami hit Hawai’i following a destructive 9.0 magnitude earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. Some hotels and businesses along the Kona and Kohala coasts were damaged by wave surge and debris, but most are open and are welcoming guests.
Two resorts that remain closed are Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, which plans to reopen on April 30, and Kona Village Resort. Phone lines at Kona Village are now working.
Kailua Pier was deemed structurally sound, and all charters that normally operate from the Pier, including Body Glove, Atlantis Submarines and Jack’s Diving Locker, are operating as usual. The Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Pride of America cruise ship will stop in Kona on Wed., Mar. 23 as planned.
King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is also open, and guest rooms were not damaged. However, the lu’au area, ground floor public areas including the lobby and Kona Beach Restaurant, were flooded by seawater, sand and debris. Cleanup efforts are well underway, and several retail stores have reopened. The swimming pool and Billfish Bar are open, and the cleanup team has removed all of the carpet from the lobby and replaced all of the furniture. The award-winning Island Breeze Lu’au will resume this Sun., Mar. 20.
While the sands at Kamakahonu Beach were mostly swept away, Kona Boys have pitched in to tidy up the coastal area fronting King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Kona Boys are continuing to offer outrigger canoe rides, stand-up paddlesurfing (SUP), kayaking and snorkeling on the calm waters of Kailua Bay from their beach hut at Kamakahonu.
Hulihe’e Palace in historic Kailua Village is temporarily closed, but two upcoming outdoor events on palace grounds are still happening as scheduled. This Sunday’s band concert is confirmed, as is the annual palace fundraiser, Day at Hulihe’e, on Sat., Mar. 26.
Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides have resumed charters aboard Hula Kai and Fair Wind II from Keauhou Bay, and Keauhou Pier was not damaged, although Fair Wind’s check-in facility will be undergoing repair. Check-ins are being handled at a modified location nearby. The company reports that the north part of Kealakekua Bay near the Captain Cook Monument where the Fair Wind II moors for its popular snorkeling trip, has excellent visibility.
The National Park Service reports that two West Hawai’i parks have partial closures due to tsunami damage. Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is open on a very limited basis from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The only areas that are open are the main paved parking lot, the visitors center, amphitheater, and a small portion of the Royal Grounds in front (makai) of the amphitheater. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is now open normally except for a small stretch of coastal trail at the southern portion of the park between ‘Ai’ōpio Fishtrap and ‘Aimakapā Fishpond.
At ‘Anaeho’omalu Bay in the Waikoloa Beach Resort, the tsunami surge cleaved the beach in half, and waves breached the lava rock walls at Kings’ Pond. The public beach access and parking lot at the south end are closed until further notice. The public can access the northern portion of the beach at the Kolea condominium community. Ocean Sports’ catamaran Sea Smoke resumed charters at ‘Anaeho’omalu today.
No damage has been reported at any of the island’s renowned golf courses.
There were no deaths or serious injuries reported in Hawai’i from Friday’s tsunami. All airports are open and flights are on time, and all roads are open.
“We are deeply touched by the outpouring of well wishes from visitors, both here and far away. And in typical Hawai’i Island style, our community, government officials and local agencies are working together efficiently and quickly to get the cleanup job done,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “As we count our blessings, we also send our deepest aloha to Japan, and to everyone who suffered losses due to the earthquake and tsunami. For all of us in Hawai’i, Japan is so much more than economics. We are friends and family as we are related by our long historical ties and proud heritage” he said.
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