Living In Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Living on the Big Island – Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Vog: Hawaii’s dirty little secret

Hawaiian Vog Photographed from Space Shuttle

Hawaiian Vog Photographed from Space Shuttle

It is not something you read about in the tourist brochures but if you google Vog you will see there is a lot of info out there on it. (I don’t mean this to be a negative post – more of a informative one).

Here is a short description of Vog in Hawaii (from NASA): Kilauea Volcano, on the island of Hawaii, has been erupting continuously since 1983. This image, taken by the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis, shows volcanic plumes from Kilauea rising up from three locations: Halema‘uma‘u Crater, Pu‘u ‘O‘o Crater, and from along the coastline where lava flows from the East Rift zone were entering the ocean. The plumes have created a blanket of volcanic fog, called vog, that envelops the island. (Click on the satellite photo to read more).

So you would think Kailua Kona wouldn’t be to affected by vog since it is on the other side of the island. Unfortunately that is not the case – because of the trade winds we get quite a bit of vog. Now with the recent fissure the vog has been bad.

At first you don’t notice the vog so much but then a clear day happens and you truly realize how bad the vog can get here. I would say nice clear days are a rare thing in Kailua Kona. There are some days when the cruise ship is in that I can barely see it – it is probably only 4 miles away as the crow flies.

For my family the vog hasn’t really affected us physically. I don’t notice any affects with my 3 year old either. Sometimes my sinuses bother me but that is about it. I have heard that vog affects everyone differently. I guess the only way you will know if you will be affective by it is to come experience it.

The positive of this is that certain parts of the island aren’t as affective by the vog like we are in Kailua Kona. If you do a little research you can easily find out where the bad areas of vog tend to be. Although if we are having a bad vog day – it not only affects the big island but also the other islands.

Here is a great picture of Kona with and without Vog. Even though it was taken in 2008 – its still the same.

VOG Pictures

Here are some good links about vog:

Local TV station vog forecast.

Department of Health map of current air quality conditions.




24 Comments to

“Vog: Hawaii’s dirty little secret”

  1. Avatar January 5th, 2012 at 7:39 pm DR Says:

    So after a year of being there now, what would you say about the Vog now?

    Is it something that would cause you to locate in another part of the island?

  2. Avatar January 9th, 2012 at 1:18 pm admin Says:

    Hi DR.

    I have to say that I do notice the VOG quite often. I especially notice it when I am driving down the mountain and during the sunsets. It makes visibility really bad. Although the sunsets are very beautiful they are very orange and hazy. I read somewhere that the shadows (say of a tree) aren’t as sharp because of the VOG and I have to say that is true. The VOG makes things a little blury all around.

    Yes, there are times that I do think I really wish the VOG would go away and I wonder what it was like before the VOG started and how much nicer it must of been then. But it has never been so bad where I thought we have to move.

    The VOG is something to consider though.

  3. Avatar September 8th, 2012 at 1:29 pm ed malinow Says:

    Just ran across this site, and would like to know how VOG is these days–any change for better or worse? Hope to hear from you if you are still active there.

  4. Avatar September 8th, 2012 at 1:35 pm admin Says:

    Hi Ed.

    Yes, there is still VOG. Some days are better then others. You really notice it when you are flying into the island. It really seems to depend on how the winds are blowing. To be honest, I we don’t really notice much anymore unless it is a really bad day.

    Let me know if I can answer any more questions.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. Avatar January 23rd, 2013 at 6:33 pm David Says:

    We are interested in moving to the big Island since the cost to move there is much better than other islands.

    I am concerned that the VOG is driving people off the island. Would you recommend a move to Kona? In your opinion are people trying to sell because of the VOG?



  6. Avatar February 5th, 2013 at 5:57 pm admin Says:

    Hi David.

    We haven’t met anyone who is moving off the island because of the VOG. It’s just something you get use to. There are certain areas of the island that aren’t as effected by the VOG. Kona and South Kona seem to get the worst of it. The VOG also effect other islands to – depending on the winds.

  7. Avatar February 15th, 2013 at 2:23 pm Robert Says:

    i was just accepted into the University of Hawaii at Hilo college of pharmacy and came across your website and wanted to see if you knew any areas on the big island that isn’t affected as much. I would be living around Hilo and I would like your opinion on that area. Thanks

  8. Avatar February 19th, 2013 at 2:21 pm admin Says:

    First let me say Congratulations for getting accepted to UH!

    To be honest – I haven’t spent much time in Hilo. For most part – I believe because of the tradewinds – they do not get the VOG nearly as bad as we do in Kona. I have heard they sometimes will get some bad days if the winds are blowing right but for the most part I don’t think they do that often.

    Hilo is a different world from Kona on a lot of levels but it’s a pretty cool town. The good news is rent is much cheaper there then it is on the Kona side. It is a lot wetter and greener too. I hope you like rain. They have great framer markets. It’s super laid back and if you are comparing it to the Kona side I would say there is a lot more local flavor. To me when we go over to Hilo it is almost like going back in time. It’s place you will either love or hate living there.

    I wish you the best of luck! Please let me know how you like it. If you are up for it – if you are willing to write a post about moving or living in Hilo I would be more then happy to put it on the website.

  9. Avatar March 10th, 2013 at 7:16 pm todd Says:

    frogs are too loud in hilo couldnt sleep and i can sleep through anything

  10. Avatar March 11th, 2013 at 11:07 am admin Says:

    I have heard on the Hilo side the Coqui frogs can be really bad.

  11. Avatar May 17th, 2013 at 9:50 am B&B Says:

    We are retiring to the Big Island in about 2 years time and now doing the planning. We have been to 5 of the islands and the Big Island just fits us. We are looking to buy a home north of Kona up around the top north side and maybe up north of Hilo… We saw a map of the lava flows and the northern area seems to be the safest. What are your views on that? We see some nice homes on the south/southwestern area of the island… but the lava flow possibilities are a concern. We come from Arizona so we favor the drier areas… on the Kona and north? We know we want some elevation to be safe from tsunamis. We’ve already checked the costs of utilities, insurance. Those will depend of course where we buy and the size of our home. We’ve checked prices in moving some of our home items, 3 dogs and a cat (all fixed). We know there are papers and costs and getting them cleared to come. But what airline will ship them there? Less are doing that anymore. We’re bringing 2 cars. We are aware of grocery and gas prices. Trying to get our ducks in a row… We have questions on how to find out if one house plant can come with us. How do you get that cleared? This one I’ve had for 30 plus years. Also after becoming residence there… should we need to visit another island for doctor/hospital care, which is the best “affordable” way. Is there a different rate for residents? Is that a silly question? We need someone to come to with questions. We wonder if there is something we’re not thinking of. We have been to the islands many times. Again we have been to 5 of the islands. The longest stay was a month on Maui. The Big Island is the island that we find fits us. Thank you, B&B

  12. Avatar May 19th, 2013 at 3:16 pm ted Says:

    Glad I happened across your blog and your candid assessment of vog. Do you know if the Parker ranch area (Waimea) has vog as often and as heavily as Kona area? If you could live anywhere on the big island that you wanted, where and why would it be? Thanks!

  13. Avatar June 3rd, 2013 at 2:57 pm Don Says:

    Vog became a real issue in 2008 because of volcanic activity, and before that the sunsets were simply spectacular. Until Halemaumau settles down, we can expect more of the same.
    Those will respiratory issues will definitely notice a difference and I do know several families that moved over to Kauai and/or the mainland to get away from it. Bothers me a little, my wife doesn’t notice it at all.

  14. Avatar July 28th, 2013 at 11:57 am Anita Says:

    Which area of the island gets the least amount of vog? I am considering the Pahoa area.

  15. Avatar July 30th, 2013 at 3:07 pm admin Says:

    Hi Anita.

    If you are considering the Pahoa area I really recommend that you do some research on that area and the VOG there. Better yet, I would spend sometime down there before you decide to make it a permanent move if VOG is a concern for you. Since the volcano is right there – VOG can be a big issue.

    If you are concerned about VOG I would look into the north part of the island – the opposite end of the island.

  16. Avatar August 4th, 2013 at 3:57 pm carol Says:

    The north end of the island has the cleanest air – Hawi generally vog free along the northern coast. Vog particles thicken the blood, so the health issues related to vog are cardiac as well as respiratory. Be sure to take blood thinners; stay indoors when the monitors read higher levels. Waikoloa has the vog monitor reading PM 2.5 particles to the furthest north, so you can watch that by goggling “Envista Hawaii” — I love the Kohala Mtns, but in winter I head to Puna, because the vog is so dense. Summers have the cleanest and clearest air quality on the west and north end. Winters are clearest on the east side (Puna area). Hope this is helpful!

  17. Avatar September 21st, 2013 at 12:40 am nancy Says:

    Good to read your comments re: Vog. We will be staying for a week November 5-13 in a condo near Kahaluu Beach. Is the vog bad in that area also?
    We have the option of less time there .. going to Hilo for longer (originally planned for 3 days around Hilo) – so wonder if you’d recommend that?
    Also, there’s a chance we could take some of that time in Maui instead .. thinking of flying home via Maui so could spend a couple days there rather than near Kona.
    Thanks for your advice!

  18. Avatar October 1st, 2013 at 6:31 pm admin Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Kahaluu Beach is on Oahu – not the big island. I am sorry but I have never been there so I have no idea what it is like.

    Hilo is beautiful and there is a lot to see with the volcano. Personally, I would recommend a few days in Hilo and a few days in Kona. They are so different from each other and the drive from Kona to Hilo can be taken 2 aways – so I recommend driving the southern part of the island one way and then bewtween the volcanos on the way back.

    The VOG has been really good recently – we have some really clear days.

    Maui is always great – just depends on what kind of vacation you are looking for.

  19. Avatar October 25th, 2013 at 3:34 pm Rob Says:

    I was born and raised in Hilo and went away after high school in mid 80′s. Came back to Hilo recently to stay temporarily before moving to the mainland. I have been here with my two very young children for a few months now. Hilo seems relatively ok a majority of the time but I think it only seems that way. Just because it looks like a clearer day I guarantee there is still vog in the air that we just cannot see. I know on the bad days the vog in Hilo is very, very bad. Yes the bad days do not happen very often but it does happen enough. In Hilo clear days are maybe 30 percent of the time, the other 50 percent is probably mild that we cannot see but its there, and the remaining 20 percent is the bad days that I believe is very bad on our health. My kids and I got sick a few times while being here only a few months. I know everyone reacts differently and possibly the body becomes acclimated to the vog if you live here long enough which I am not sure if that is a good thing. Its a beautiful island and the people here are always warm but the volcano has definitely changed the face of the island. The volcano is like a rose with thorns. It has brought in a lot of money through the tourist who come here to see it and at the same time has damaged the agriculture of many farms and ruined the lively hood of many hard working people, and also has brought on a lot of health problems and concerns to the people of the island. The vog kills agriculture and destroys farms completely, that is really scary to me..

  20. Avatar November 3rd, 2013 at 1:47 pm Cathy Says:

    I am taking a job transfer to the Big Island sometime between Feb and April. So glad to have found your site. I am bringing a 7th grader and parents in their 80′s, so we are looking to rent somethiong with Ohana, but they seem pretty few and far between. I see lots of just the Ohana, but not the whole property. Is it easier to find when we get there or is Craigs List really the best place?

  21. Avatar February 11th, 2014 at 8:16 pm LEILANI DANIELS Says:

    what other island would you recommend moving to ? i really wanted to move to the big island but i have 3 boys with asthma

  22. Avatar February 12th, 2014 at 12:53 pm admin Says:

    The north part of the Big Island does not get VOG nearly as bad. The other islands also get the VOG because of the winds. I am sure that certain parts of each island don’t really get as much as other because of the way the winds blow. My best guess for the best island would be Kauai since it is the farthest way. Although Kauai is currently dealing with the pesticides and GMO research being done on the island causing people to be sick. Research is your best option before you come.

    Here is a good website to learn more about VOG and how it effects the all the islands:

    Here is article on what is going on in Kauai:

    The the other thing to consider since you have 3 boys with asthma is doctors. If you are on one of the more remote islands like the Big Island or Kauai – there aren’t many options for doctors. If you are thinking about the Kona side of the island – I would start calling now to find a pediatrician because almost all of them are not taking new clients. I also would research hospitals on the islands because there are only 3 on the big island and when someone is really sick they are flown to Oahu. I am not sure how bad your boys asthma is but something to consider if they need medical care on a more consistent bases.

  23. Avatar February 17th, 2014 at 1:27 pm christie Says:

    This is such a bummer to find out. We have been planning on moving to Kona for years. It’s our dream spot. We have lived in Oahu before and loved it but house prices are ridiculous. Anyway, we have 5 children and non suffer from breathing issues BUT I am worried that moving there might induce an issue, it’s unknown if it will, right? We are thinking of Kona and the area North of it I think it’s called Waimanalo?? Their school ratings are really high so we want to go where the schools have at least 9 – 10 ratings. I’d love to talk to you about this issue!!

  24. Avatar May 15th, 2014 at 4:19 pm Rex Says:

    Really enjoy reading your website. Lots of details learned. Thank you for sharing!

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