POHOIKI, Hawaii - The earth's newest beach was once a boat ramp and residents say, the only one in South Puna. The next closest is in Hilo, about an hour away.

"It's unfortunately the site got closed down from the lava or the effects of the lava flow... We're trying to expedite it the best we can but we still have to follow all the permitting and all of that," Ed Underwood, DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, said. 

The state's Department of Land and Natural Resources sent Sea Engineering to study the area about 10 miles south from Pohoiki Bay to Kalapana, where the coast road turns inland. They found the shoreline was mostly rocky sea cliffs with water at about 20 to 30 feet.

"It's closest being at sea level, they could dretch the inner basin where the launch ramp will be built and create the channel heading out," Underwood said.  

Other features of the proposed new facility at Malama Flats would include: 

  • A 295-foot long, 100-foot wide, and 6-foot deep entrance channel excavated inland.
  • A 0.6 acre launching and turning basin, 6 feet deep.
  • 830 linear feet of rock wave absorber along the entrance channel and basin.
  • A single lane concrete boat launch ramp, 18 feet wide and 128 feet long.
  • A 24-foot wide, 60-foot long concrete ramp approach pad. • A 30-foot long, 5-foot wide concrete loading dock, complete with fenders and mooring hardware.
  • A 100-foot long, 5-foot wide, ADA compliant loading dock approach walkway.
  • Approximately 1,330 linear feet of lava rock (CRM) retaining wall, 2 to 4 feet high, to permit raising the ground elevation in the ramp vicinity. 
  • Material excavated from the channel and basin would be used as compacted fill to create a     uniform +10-foot elevation backshore support area.  This is necessary to prevent occasional flooding of the ramp facility by wave runup.
  • A two-lane, 24-foot wide, asphalt access roadway approximately 680 feet long.

Puna resident Ikaika Marzo used to use the boat ramp almost everyday for his tour business. He looks forward to being a part of the discussion in choosing where the new ramp will be. 

"There's a lot of challenges for boat users to even get down to that ramp. There's gonna be a lot of challenges for getting our boats down in that area... We'd love to give some of our input in either using the existing boat ramp or a new boat ramp," Marzo said. 

DLNR says the first public meeting is scheduled for July. Identifying a possible location for a new ramp is just the first of many steps. The state will need to get permits to build, gather community input, then a put together a final plan before construction can start.