Kapoho Bay, playground for Big Islanders and many others, is lost to lava

Satellite photos from above Kapoho just before the bay disappeared
Updated: Feb. 25, 2019 at 12:17 AM HST
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A river-like flow of lava continues to pour from fissure 8 into Kapoho Bay

KAPOHO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kapoho Bay is gone. Wiped out. Completely filled in with lava.

And for many Big Islanders, that's hard to come to terms with. Homes and subdivisions can be rebuilt. Roads can be cut and paved.

But there's no rebuilding a bay. The bay is gone.

Before a river of lava marched over the community starting this weekend, Kapoho was a vacation destination for Big Islanders — and others. Many of the hundreds of homes destroyed overnight, as lava wiped whole neighborhoods off the map, were short-term rentals or second homes.

But there were also many that weren't.

Kapoho is also home to important agricultural lands.

And it's the spot where generations of Big Islanders made priceless memories — playing in the bay and nearby tide pools. Snorkeling. Picnicking.

Ikaika Marzo, who has emerged as a leader during the eruptions as he's sought to get much-needed information to residents, took to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon to ask people to "pray for Kapoho."

"Hundreds of homes have been lost in the Kapoho flow," he said.

There was some confusion on Tuesday concerning Big Island Mayor Harry Kim's second home in Vacationland. It was initially thought lost to lava, but county officials later said it had been spared. A final account confirms that the home is indeed gone.

"The most recent aerial surveillance appears to show that Mayor Kim's house in lower Puna was destroyed sometime today by the lava flow," Mace said on Tuesday evening.

County Managing Director Wil Okabe also lost his vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots to lava.

"For us, it's more of a vacation area, but for those who live there permanently, they're trying to figure out where they're going to be living," he said.

Jason Hills visits Kapoho every year and his father lives there. For now, he said, his dad's home has been spared.

But the community — just everything that makes Kapoho Kapoho — is gone.

"It's incredibly saddening," Hills said. "Kapoho was one of the last special places along that entire coastline. Kapoho Bay was just a little calm water gem where people could play, swim, hang out in the tide pools. It was green and beautiful, great tradewinds, and now it's just a big hunk of lava rock."

To come to terms with the loss, some took to social media to express their loss.

Others were still trying to grasp the surreal aerial images they were seeing: Where the bay used to be, now there is only fresh, black land, extending .7 miles into the sea.

"I keep going back and forth between before and after photos, trying to accept what I'm seeing," one Facebook user said. "So much loss, so much sadness."

Another Facebook post read: "Such a sad day for me and everyone else who has lost. Heartfelt prayers."

Dane DuPont, who has been helping track homes destroyed in the eruptions, said the lava flow inundating entire Kapoho subdivisions is a "worst-case scenario."

He added: "We lost something beautiful today."

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