Pohoiki Adventure ~ Veteranʻs Day 2018

Pohoiki Adventure

Veteranʻs Day Holiday ~ 2018

Expect the unexpected with Mama at the helm…

The day started off with our normal routine, but me being me with my adventurous streak and spontaneous ideas; our days can often veer off the beaten path. Itʻs nice to still have that spontaneity every now and then. Just because I homeschool it doesn’t mean we canʻt have unplanned adventures. 

Since my daughter that is attending private school had the day off, I decided we would venture down to Pohoiki.  They had just finished cutting the access road through the newly formed lava. My misconception however, was that we would be able to “drive” all the way down to the freshly cooled black sand beach, that now covers Pohoiki boat ramp. Like I mentioned “misconception”. 

We traveled pass the steaming vents on Highway 130 (Pahoa-Kalapana Hwy), then down Kamaili Rd. and finally on to Highway 132 or is it 137 (aka – Beach Road)? Anyways, when we reached McKenzie State Park we found the road was still barricaded and only FEMA personnel were allowed to drive on the road. 

I decided that it was a bust and turned the truck around to leave. The girls were obviously disappointed and protested that we could still walk. I was pleasantly surprised that they wanted to take the chance and endure the 40-45 minute walk into Pohoiki beach. So, I turned the truck around and headed to find a parking spot. Thankfully we were able to find parking, it being a holiday and all. The place was packed so it was a blessing to find a good parking spot next to the bathrooms. 

I planned to drive down to the beach so we had packed a bunch of stuff and were ill prepared to pack it all on foot. Fortunately there was a ready solution waiting for us at what I can best describe as a road-side stand. This stand however was not selling goodies to eat nor snorkel gear. They were peddling bikes.

Part of the new road connecting to the old road~ *Photo by: Becca Canevali

Enter the Bike Peddlers….

LOL, yes pun intended!!! Since no one was able to drive on the road people had two choices; walk or bike. As we hopped out of our truck we had to decide what we wanted to take and what would be left in the truck (keep in mind, thieves :{ are prevalent in areas where tourist flock). We had seen some folks renting bikes on the side of the road as we drove in earlier, so we decide we would rent a bike to help pack all our stuff. 

Loaded with our duffle bag and backpack we strolled down to their roadside stand. The deal was $20 per bike for 5 hours. We decided it was worth the 20 bucks and paid them in cash. Also note there is rarely any cellphone service in this area, so no credit/debit cards are accepted. Apparently heʻs got a good business going so far. 

I wonder how long before Uncle Sam decides to shut him down or if they are going to require a permit. I didnʻt get into details with them, but I could see that they provided a much needed service/product. They helped to get us loaded up and even gave us a snack bar and cold bottle of water before we set off. It was an overall pleasent experience, however next time we are bringing our own bikes. 

Adventure land here we come…

The barricade was made to stop vehicles from entering, however it was useless in regards to pedestrians and bikes. We easily maneuvered our way around it and found ourselves on a gray, dusty gravel road. The gravel had been compacted which made it easier to walk and ride on. 

Not sure if you have ever experienced the sensation of walking or riding a bike on loose gravel, but let me tell you it takes quite a bit more energy and we needed to conserve ours. We still wanted to swim once we got to the beach, after all that was the whole reason behind this mission. 

We started our journey at about 1pm when the sun was still at itʻs hottest. The beginning of the trail provided very little in the way of shade since the lava had pretty much buried or burnt everything in itʻs path. There were barely any clouds in the sky to challenge the dayʻs fiery heat. However, there was a slight breeze that intermittently cooled our faces. The beautiful views of the turquoise ocean and distant lava cones also helped to distract us from our constant beaming companion. The breezes and scenery were great motivation to soldier on towards the beach, regardless of the relentless Hawaiian sun.

The new gravel road eventually led to areas of the old road that were left untouched by lava. This provided much needed resting areas in the shade of old mango groves that dotted the landscape. I felt at peace and in awe as we walked or rode (since we were taking turns on the bike) along. 

It was a bit surreal to travel a road on foot that Iʻve only ever drove on in the past. The girls described feeling like the world had stopped or as if the world had ended. Regardless of the physical exertion that they were experiencing they all had smiles on their faces, including me. I believe it was the expectation of seeing the new beach and swimming (which is one of our most favorite things in the whole world) that helped to keep our spirits high.

Just keep swimming or in our case walking & biking….

Our journey in took roughly 40-45 minutes as we traveled at a steady but easy pace, only stopping in the shaded areas to hydrate or switch out bike riders. The foot/bike traffic was steady, but not so crowded that we felt like cattle nor to sparse as if we were the last humans on the planet. 

There were people of all ages. Some even packed their infants in carriers, while others strolled along with their whole Ohana, laughing and talking. Everyone was in a pretty good mood. Iʻm sure the endorphins from the exercise had a part to play in that. 

When it was my turn to ride the bike I would packed my 8 yr. old to give her a rest. Her pace was a little less steady then the rest of us as she insisted on running in spurts to either get ahead of us or to catch-up, she reminded me of a buzzing bee. Man if I could bottle that energy, Iʻd be rich. 

Just as our journey began to weigh a bit on our high spirits, we passed a fellow traveler who was heading in the opposite direction. He hollered out to everyone in ear-shot, “15 more minutes, youʻre almost there!” I thanked him and smiled to my girls. We needed that boost of encouragement. The spring was back in our step! I think we may have even picked up our pace at the good news that our mission to reach the beach was almost complete.

Along the path to Pohoiki ~ 2018 *Photo by: Becca Canevali

We came, we saw, we conqured…

The familiar 4-way stop quickly came into view. We hung a right at the stop sign and practically raced down the road. We were ready to jump in that ocean and cool ourselves down. 

It was strange to see a familiar yet new place all at once. The same parking lot, yet desolate. The boat ramp that once provided access to the open ocean, now only led to a salt water pond. And of course the most spectacular of all, the strip of black pebble/sand beach, one of only a handful of black sand beaches on this island. The water in the pond was warm, possibly from the new lava, but the ocean was cool and refreshing. All except my youngest swam in the open bay.

** Word of warning – The currents were very strong, and the waves were pretty consistant. Not an area for inexperienced swimmers. Also, you wonʻt find any lifeguards on duty there.

 I could rant on about all the sights, however Iʻm going to let my pictures do the talking from here. Following is the photo-journal of our adventure. I hope you enjoy seeing some of what we experience on this adventure. Until next time…

Aloha & Blessings,


Pohoiki 2018 ~ Photo Journal

Aloha & Blessings
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