State officials announced the MacKenzie State Recreation Area along the coastline in Lower Puna will reopen Saturday for the first time since the Kilauea eruption in early May forced its closure.
The Malama Ki Forest Reserve, which was also closed for several months, will reopen at the same time, state officials said, but with a safety buffer of 50 meters from recent lava flows.
While both are reopening, state officials reminded the public that anyone venturing into the restricted zone is still subject to citation or arrest for loitering in a disaster zone. More than 90 people were cited over the past few months, when the entire area was off-limits. They also urged the public to use extreme caution while exploring the new coastline.
“We expect a significant number of people will be wanting to explore the newly created beaches on the unencumbered lands north of MacKenzie State Recreation Area,” said Gordon Heit, Hawaii island’s land agent, in a news release. “People need to use extreme caution when approaching the water. In some locations, steep, unstable cliffs were formed by recent lava flows and they drop into very deep water where ocean currents are very unpredictable.”
The park, a gateway to Pohoiki, crosses some rough terrain, so officials encourage hikers, sightseers and oceangoers to be prepared, with water, sun protection and sturdy footwear. The Pohoiki boat ramp was never closed during the eruption, but is now surrounded by a new black-sand beach, which cuts it off from the ocean.
Officials from the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation plan to assess the Pohoiki boat ramp next week to determine whether it can be used again or whether a new ramp will need to be built at another location along the lower Puna coast.
Lava Tree State Monument remains closed due to damage from earthquakes.