DLNR visits Pohoiki Boat Ramp to determine if it can be reopened


Pohoiki Assessment-Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

(Honolulu) – A damage assessment of the formerly popular Pohoiki Boat Ramp area, along the lower Puna coast, shows no damage to the ramp itself. However, an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of black sand, deposited during the recent East Rift Zone eruption, completely rings and blocks the entrance to the small boat ramp.

Finn McCall, an engineer with the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) and DOBOR’s Hawai‘i island Branch Manager Stephen Schmelz flew to Pohoiki recently to get a close look at what Kīlauea wrought. “We were here during the eruptive activity in mid-July and fully expected the ramp to be taken within a matter of days. Amazingly, while lava crept to the edge of the neighboring Isaac Hale Beach Park, took the county’s life guard stand, and surrounded the boat ramp off-shore, it’s still here,” Schmelz said.

Prior to the latest eruption, four companies with DOBOR commercial permits operated lava ocean tours from the ramp. The tiny bay leading up to the ramp was also a popular swimming spot and ocean-entrance for surfers and other water enthusiasts. McCall took measurements on the newly formed, crescent-shaped, black sand beach and in the new pool created by the encirclement. He said, “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.” 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. Mayor Harry Kim said, “DOBOR is now working closely with the County of Hawai’i on their plans regarding the road and the Beach Park. The County looks forward to working with the State on the development of this area.” There are no estimates now of how much it would cost or a time frame for potential work to begin.

McCall and Schmelz flew the entire Lower Puna coastline looking for other possible small boat ramp sites, in case Pohoiki can’t be resurrected. They’re reviewing video of the flight to try and identify alternate locations. They believe there may be a couple of options, but like at Pohoiki, a new ramp would require support from the community, permits, road access, and millions of dollars in funding for design and construction.

At MacKenzie, people are taken in by two new sparkling black sand beaches. Prior to the eruption the parks coastline was punctuated by steep, rocky cliffs that dropped precipitously and directly into the ocean. The larger of the pair of beaches is directly below the parking lot and still requires careful navigation down the cliff face. The beauty of the shimmering black sand beaches is underlain with danger. State Parks Caretaker KyleTakeya explained, “There is a powerful undertow at these beaches and a swimmer or boarder could easily be swept out to sea.” He understands there are now a total of seven black sand beaches, created by Kīlauea, between MacKenzie and Pohoiki.

From the northern boundary of MacKenzie SRA, it is just a few-minute walk to the edge of the newly formed lava flow – which remains within a restricted access zone. On the first day of the reopening of MacKenzie, a National Guardsman walked out to the edge of the lava flow and spoke to numerous visitors about the risks and hazards associated with the newly-altered landscape. In addition to the extremely sharp lava which creates unstable footing, there are pockets where the ground may look stable, but is not. Road signs leading into MacKenzie SRA also warn people to be aware of the possibility of continuing volcanic gas emissions.

DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell remarked, “We’re very pleased to now reopen MacKenzie. 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.”

2 Responses to “DLNR visits Pohoiki Boat Ramp to determine if it can be reopened”

  1. Stephanie McCurdy says:

    We are anxious to be able to visit the boat ramp. We are seniors with disabilities. So the hike from McKenzie would be a bit much. But we are looking forward to dipping our toes in that new black sand beach.

    And while we are on the subject…it was mentioned in another paper about naming Fissure no 8…..right now it sounds like a Engine no 9 similar name. :) …I got to pondering on my drive to the market the other day. And I realized that Fissure no 8 is a love child. That’s right….180 foot love child conceived by the lava of Halemaumau and Pu’u O’o merging and their birth pangs created this love child who deserves a hawaiian commemorating the strength of the raging lava river and it’s parental heritage.
    Alohakeikinamaumauo’o..(aloha keiki na mama o’o)…a little long but then hawaiian names tend to love the use of many many syllables. Anyway that is my take on it. Having lived here fourteen years now and having learned to manama na aina well…I wanted to be the first to dream up a name for this unloved love child. It would be interesting to see an article on this subject and hear further comments.

    Mahalo nui Loa
    Kaloli point flower child

  2. Stephanie says:

    I wish to make a comment on the above comment. As the author of that, I wish to convey my deepest empathy to those that have lost their homes in this terrible event. It was not my wish to sound frivolous or uncaring because what happened has affected us all directly and indirectly. We have grieved and are still mourning with the losses suffered by the community.. the Homes, the farms, the school, the scenic landmarks…lost forever under the raging river of lava poured out in shocking and relentless speed. Please forgive me if I have offended anyone.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.