Massive black sand bar blocks entrance to popular Hawaii island boat ramp

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It was spared by the lava, but will Pohoiki boat ramp on Hawaii island’s lower Puna coast ever be the same?

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said Tuesday 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 ramp.

It’s about as long as a football field and more than six feet tall.

Officials note the ramp itself was not damaged.

The state says it’s safe to remove the sand bar to restore the entrance, but there’s no date or cost estimate as to when that’ll happen.

Prior to the latest eruption, four companies with DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation 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.

“The danger is probably the undertow. If you get stuck in that, it’s gonna suck you straight underwater instead of out. Just gotta beware the undertow and the strong currents that’s associated just outside of the waves,” said Kyle Takeya, DLNR Division of State Parks.

The reopening of the ramp would be dependent on road access being restored, support from the local community, the securing of necessary permits, as well as funding.

Officials are also looking to identify alternate areas along the coastline in the event Pohoiki cannot be reopened.

For months, the lava has transformed the Puna coastline, creating a beautiful but potentially dangerous area.

But volcanic activity has been quiet for weeks.

Last week, residents who were forced to evacuate from Leilani Estates were finally able to return home to live.

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