Lonely Planet Writer

Be one of the first to visit Hawaiʻi's new black sand beach

On Hawai’i the Big Island, the topography is ever-changing as lava continuously reshapes the natural environment. Since the eruption of Kilauea volcano last May, however, changes have been swift and astounding, such as the sudden appearance of a spectacular black sand beach.

Lava flow from an eruption of Hawai’i’s Kilauea volcano has created a new black sand beach. Image by Hawai’i Visitor Bureau

When Kilauea volcano erupted in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood on 3 May, 2018, it belched out 250 million cubic metres of lava into the air. The weeks-long eruption, which geologists rank as one of the biggest from the volcano in a century, left a trail of destruction in its wake. According to reports in the Guardian, lava paved over tide pools and coral gardens destroyed 577 homes and forced over 2000 people to evacuate. It also wiped out rare sites and ecosystems, boiled a 400-year-old lake until it evaporated and killed a number of sea creatures.

Four new natural ocean thermal ponds were also created by the lava flow. Image by Hawai’i Visitor Bureau

But from destruction springs creation and the arrival of a new black sand beach – composed of volcanic minerals and lava elements – at Isaac Kepoʻokalani Hale Beach Park is giving locals and tourists reason to celebrate.

“The new black sand beach at Isaac Kepoʻokalani Hale Beach Park is a silver lining from the Kīlauea eruption last year,” Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau told Lonely Planet Travel News.

“While our hearts are with our Hawaiʻi Island ʻohana who lost their homes and businesses, we anticipate our community and visitors will embrace this special place and make new memories with loved ones. The new beach will also serve as a reminder to the island of Hawai’i’s unique ability to be ever-changing.”

Authorities say visitors to the beach can swim at their own risk Image by Hawai’i Visitor Bureau

Four new natural ocean thermal ponds were also created by the lava flow, but the Hawaii Department of Health cautioned that the ponds are not disinfected and could cause bacterial infections. While the beach is open, certain roads in the area are still closed. No drinking water is available in the park due to damaged water lines and the authorities have warned visitors of dangerous currents in the water.