HILO — New black sand beaches have formed near Kapoho, created by the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano in lower Puna.
Photos that have recently circulated on social media show a new black sand beach near the Cape Kumukahi lighthouse just north of Kapoho.
The photos were shared by Petra Wiesenbauer, who used to live in Leilani Estates but lost her home in the eruption. She now lives in Hawaiian Paradise Park and recently trekked to the new beach.
Wiesenbauer said she and her three children followed a trail that goes across the lava at “Four Corners,” where Highway 132 and Highway 137 intersect, and ties into the Kapoho Kumukahi Lighthouse Road, “then basically followed Lighthouse Road to the light house.”
She said they did not cross private property to reach it.
It was about an hour hike one way.
“We have never been down there, had heard about the beach and wanted to explore,” Wiesenbauer said. “… Oh my god, it’s amazing. It’s truly unbelievable. It’s so beautiful,” and still in a formation process.
The beach itself “doesn’t have the steep slope you find at Pohoiki,” another black sand beach created in the eruption and which landlocked the Pohoiki boat ramp. The sand is smoother, but the water is rough.
Wiesenbauer said she met tourists at the beach who were trying to find the Kapoho tide pools, apparently not knowing that they were inundated by lava during the eruption.
County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said pockets of sand were created by lava entering the ocean. The current is moving that sand around and black sand beaches are being formed.
Although he has not been to the new beach in the lighthouse area, flights taken throughout the eruption period showed “black sand beaches being developed as ocean entries moved around in those areas.”
That area has some large tracks of private property, Magno said. People should respect private property.
“Once the roads are constructed, then that’s public access, then everybody will have a right of way down there,” he said.
The coastline is also state property, “again, everybody’s got the legal right to be there, (we) assume normal beach activities will commence, so the normal concerns come into place.”
New lava flows are hazardous for falls, and the lava rock is “still very sharp,” Magno said.
There could also be coastline cliff collapses “just through natural processes.” And if there’s a big surf or hurricane swell, people will have to be aware and take necessary precautions.
“For the people that commonly use that area, they recognize the hazard to that area,” Magno said.
People newly accessing the site should recognize the hazards and “not go beyond their capabilities. That area will be a long way from any kind of support if they get into trouble … .”