State officials said the popular Pohoiki Boat Ramp in Puna shows no damage from lava and could possibly be used again, but the entrance is blocked off and surrounded by about 14,000 cubic yards of black sand.
“We have a lot more analysis to do but it appears, based on our initial assessment, that we could actually remove the black sand and re-create the entrance to the boat ramp,” said Finn McCall, a state engineer who measured the new, crescent-shaped black sand beach. “The reopening of the Pohoiki Boat Ramp would be dependent on road access being restored, support from the local community, the securing of necessary permits and most importantly — funding.”
The Pohoiki Boat Ramp area is a popular not only for boaters, but for swimmers, surfers and other water enthusiasts who enjoyed the small bay leading up to the ramp. Before latest eruption, four companies had permits to operate lava ocean tours from the ramp.
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said the county was working closely with the state to reopen the road and Isaac Hale Beach Park, where the ramp is located. However, there is no budget or time frame for this to happen.
In case Pohoiki cannot be resurrected, state officials are looking for other sites along the Lower Puna coastline for a boat ramp, and believe there may be a few options.
Meanwhile, at MacKenzie State Recreation Area, which reopened earlier this month, visitors are now able to view a pair of new black sand beaches.
The public is warned to use caution when visiting the area because of a powerful undertow that can sweep swimmers and boogie boarders out to sea, sharp hardened lava, pockets of unstable ground and continuing volcanic gas emissions.
The edge of a newly formed lava flow at the park’s northern boundary can be reached by few minutes’ walk but is within a restricted access zone.
“We’re very pleased to now reopen MacKenzie,” said State Parks administrator Curt Cottrell in a news release. “It is critically important to enable shoreline access for our local community. As always, we request that people demonstrate responsible behavior and use judgment and common sense when venturing into any areas impacted by the lower East Rift Zone eruption and avoid promoting excursions on social media – as it only increases the appetite for others often less skilled to follow.”