Hawaii Has 7 New Black Sand Beaches, Thanks to the Kilauea Volcano

Jan 12, 2019

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When the Kilauea volcano erupted on the island of Hawaii last May, it brought more than smoke and lava. It changed the topography of the island. There are now seven new stunning black sand beaches framing the Big Island’s rugged coastline.

We previously reported that the Lower East Rift Zone eruption added a mile to the island’s coastline and formed a new miniature islet off the coast. Though the tiny islet is no longer there, it now appears that Kilauea created seven black sand beaches between the MacKenzie State Recreation Area and Isaac Hale Beach Park, also known as Pohoiki, according to a report by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

While MacKenzie Beach reopened last September with two new black sand beaches, Isaac Hale Beach Park remained closed until December. Prior to the eruption, the area around Mackenzie Beach was made up of high, rocky cliffs that jutted out into the ocean. Though some of the new black sand beaches are now accessible to visitors, State Parks caretaker Kyle Takeya cautioned, “There is a powerful undertow at these beaches and a swimmer or boarder could easily be swept out to sea.”

According to a statement by the Parks and Recreation Department of the County of Hawaii, the lava flow also created four natural ocean thermal ponds, but they have not been disinfected, so visitors are being warned to enter them at their own risk.

At the reopened Isaac Hale Beach Park, there is a lifeguard on duty and a 24-hour security presence, though the park is only open from 9am until 6pm. There’s no running water, since the lava damaged the county lines leading to the park, and there’s no camping allowed until further notice. Until the water is restored, portable toilets will be available to the public.

At the reopening ceremony on Dec. 6, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim told Hawaii News Now that the park’s reopening was “something positive out of a very, very bad event.”

The sentiment was echoed by local residents and Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, who told CNN he was hopeful about a “silver lining.”

It’s certainly good news for the state, which is one of the top trending destinations of 2019, thanks to a flurry of new flight routes launched last year and Southwest’s plan to launch flights to Hawaii this year.

Featured image of the new black sand beach at MacKenzie State Recreation Area courtesy of the State of Hawaii

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