POHOIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After 167 days, Hawaii County reopened Isaac Hale Beach Park, which was nearly overtaken by lava, and hundreds of people were there to mark the occasion.
The park reopened Thursday with a peaceful ceremony, featuring a Hawaiian blessing and visitors gave gifts before entering to see the new beach.
Before the lava disaster, Pohoiki was all rock and had no sand; but now it’s a black sand beach so visitors set up beach chairs to enjoy the new view.
“This is really hard to see but it’s still beautiful. It’ll still be Pohoiki, but it’s changed. It will be forever changed,” said Nadine Camacho, who lives in Hilo.
The Pohoiki boat ramp used to be surrounded by water that led to the ocean; but now it’s surrounded by lava and there’s a new addition.
There are now thermal ocean ponds, where despite warning signs, visitors took a dip to feel the water.
Swimmers say the new thermal ocean ponds feel like a warm bath and still overlooking the boat ramp is the little red house — untouched by lava.
“I think it’s beautiful. I think you can see for yourself how amazing the place is,” said Kaimu resident Jessica Waiau. “We still have the old along with the new.”
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim was there to celebrate the park’s reopening.
“I feel tremendously good I feel the warm the happiness of people and something that’s positive out of a very very bad event,” Kim said.
Leilani Estates resident Mohala Callahan participated in the ceremony and says she and many others been waiting a long time for this day to come.
For her and others they feel a sense of loss over what’s changed, but happiness that this special place is still here.
“My heart was breaking, but it was very joyous at the same time,” Callahan said.
Prior to Thursday’s reopening, the park only opened for one day back in May on Memorial Day.
Meanwhile, there is a debate about what to do with boat ramp, but Mayor Kim says he prefers not to reopen it.