Hawai‘i Officials Clarify Pohoiki Access Policy
Since the reopening of MacKenzie State Recreational Area on Sept. 8, 2018, many hikers are venturing to Pohoiki, also known as Isaac Hale Beach Park, an oceanfront park, boat launch and surf location on Pohoiki Bay along the Puna shoreline.
Most trek from from MacKenzie SRA in Lower Puna.
MacKenzie State Recreational Area was closed back in May when lava entered the ocean just North of the recreational area.
The area is accessible only by Highway 137, known to locals as Red Road, which is barricaded just past the MacKenzie SRA entrance.
However, Pohoiki/Isaac Hale Beach Park, a Hawai‘i County park, remains closed for now. It has been isolated on both sides by lava flows.
Department of Land and Natural Resources Senior Communications Manager Dan Dennison clarified
that the Pohoiki Small Boat Ramp adjacent to Isaac Hale Beach Park is under the jurisdiction of the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) and was never officially closed.
“Currently, the ramp is not accessible from the ocean due to a new black sand beach that has ringed the ramp,” explained Dennison. “DOBOR leadership will be taking a close look at Pohoiki later this week to try and determine whether it can be made operational again and to identify potential locations along the coast should the ramp need to be relocated.”
At Mackenzie, there is new black sand deposited along the shoreline.
The new sand has been washing ashore after lava entered the ocean up the coast.
According to United States Geological Survey, lava stopped entering the ocean on Aug. 29.
The flow field between MacKenzie SRA and Pohoiki has been inactive since for a couple months.
“The 50-meter buffer zone implemented by Hawai‘i County Civil Defense is still in effect and continues to preclude travel onto the lava field and across state forest reserve and unencumbered lands,” stated
He said due to manpower limitations, DOCARE is no longer patrolling Lower Puna on a daily
“Until recently, at the county’s request, four officers were assigned daily to assist in the Emergency
Operation Center and in the field for the Lower East Rift Zone eruption,” explained Dennison. “DOCARE will respond to issues as necessary.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources encourages anyone making the trip to be completely self-sufficient and well prepared.
Two residents who took the hike said it was long and rough.
“It took us an hour-and-a-half each way. I would never do it again,” said one of the hikers, who preferred to remain anonymous.
He said the ‘a‘a flow was difficult to traverse and strongly urged others heading out to have a lot of
water, sun protection and proper footwear.
With much of Puna’s ocean access covered in lava, residents and visitors alike are anxious for the county to bulldoze a road that would create access to the beloved beach park.
During a Puna community meeting, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said the county is planning to create access to Pohoiki, but did not offer a timeline or any specifics.