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Established 2004


Pacific Quest is proud to be maintaining normal daily operations and admissions. Hawai’i Island’s current volcanic activity is safely far away from PQ campuses.

The Big Island of Hawai’i is the largest island in the United States. At over 4,000 square miles, it is larger than Delaware, Rhode Island, and Washington DC combined. The area impacted by lava is approximately 20 square miles. Since January 1983, Kīlauea volcano has been in a continuous eruptive state and the current activity is the natural process of a shield volcano.

Frequently Asked Questions


Where is the lava flow located?

The active Lava flow is limited to a small area of about 20 square miles. Here is the most recent Active Lava Flow Map.

Where is the lava flow in proximity to Pacific Quest?

Pacific Quest has two campuses in Hilo and Waiohinu. Hilo is 25 miles away, and Waiohinu is 55 miles away from the lava fissures. Please visit this explorable map to see exactly where we are.

Air Quality

How is air quality being impacted at PQ campuses specifically?

Operating near a volcano in the Pacific has always meant that our air quality can vary based on conditions. It is important to note that the air quality on Hawaii Island is still better than many places around the world. Here is a world map of the Air Quality Index. Air on Hawai’i Island is most typically between “Good” and “Moderate.”

What about Sulfur Levels and Vog?

The term ‘Vog’ refers to the hazy air pollution caused by the volcanic emissions from Kīlauea volcano, which are primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas. The trade winds blow most Vog from Kilauea to the Kona side of the island and other islands, such as Oahu. We regularly monitor SO2 levels.

What about “Laze”?

This effect is a result of Lava coming into contact with saltwater, and is isolated to the immediate area surrounding the active lava flow–nowhere near our campuses.

What about Volcanic Ash?

We are closely monitoring instances of wind-driven ash from Halema’uma’u Crater located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park throughout each day. So far, we have only experienced intermittent light, wind-driven ash residue. We are prepared to move to indoor programming if there is a need at any time.

This is a recent photo from our Naalehu campus looking north towards Hawai’i Volcanos National Park.

Our Young Adult Reeds Bay campus has experienced no ash, and air quality remains “Good”.

How does air quality compare to major cities or areas impacted by forest fires?

Hawaii is fortuoutusly located in the path of the trade winds, and is known to have some of the best air on the planet. Even with the recent uptick in volcanic activity, the air quality here will often be far better than major metropolitan areas impacted by forest fires. Visit Real Time Air Quality for the latest World Air Quality map.

Steam Eruptions

Where are the steam eruptions in relation to Pacific Quest?

The steam driven eruptions are located safely inside the Volcanoes National Park and coming from the Halema’uma’u Crater which has been active for 100’s of years.

Is there any risk of rock fall out at PQ camps?

No. The radius of debris is limited to 1-4 miles. See Map Below:

Is there a risk of a larger eruption like Mt. St Helens?

No. Kilauea is a Shield Volcano, and unlike a Stratovolcano, they are not at risk of large scale eruptions. Hawaii is home to the most studied and monitored volcanic system in the world, and even has it’s own sub-classification (Hawaiian Eruption) defined by it’s gentle flow and eruptive nature.

How is PQ Responding?

How is PQ maintaining safety of students?

Directors, Managers, and Supervisors are monitoring real-time conditions and meeting regularly. Student health and safety is our top priority, and we are prepared to alter programming should the need arise. Given that we are safe distance from the lava flow and volcanic crater, sudden changes are not a threat. Thus, we are able to thoroughly evaluate and plan for alterations to daily activities.

How is PQ keeping families apprised of volcanic activity and safety updates?

The leadership team is committed to sending parents regular email updates, as well as maintaining our website and social media with extensive resources and information about volcanic activity. We invite parents to reach out to us via email or phone if you would like to speak. Please contact Mike Sullivan, Family Services Director, via email at, or by phone at 808-854-4758.

What if students have to evacuate the island?

The Hawaiian volcanic system is the most studied in the world, and there is no risk of a scenario in which we would have to evacuate. Since all activity is far from our camps, we can remain on our beautiful campuses. We have two campus locations on the island, and should conditions change in any one location, we can safely move the students to another location. Travel between campuses and throughout most of the island is possible and normal.

How can parents help?

Pacific Quest cares about our community. To this end, owner Mike McKinney created The Pacific Quest Foundation several years ago. The PQ Foundation is a 5013c non profit dedicated to philanthropic efforts around the island. Right now, all donations are being directed to community programs supporting those displaced and impacted by the lava flows. Please consider donating.