Hawaii Island says goodbye to Fox’s Landing as lava re-claims beloved beach
The following story was recognized as a finalist in the 2011 SPJ Hawaii Excellence in Journalism Contest for the category of: ‘Online News Reporting’
HAWAII ISLAND—Hawaii Island residents are saying their goodbyes to two of the few sandy beaches on the eastern coast known as Fox’s Landing, which consisted of two beaches—a larger one known as Ili’s, and a smaller one known as Ili Ili’s. The black sand beaches were located in the Kalapana lava flow at the end of Highway 130, and as of Sunday, August 1, were almost completely covered in lava from the current Kilauea Volcano eruption.
Puna residents who hiked out to Fox’s Landing to bid farewell reported Sunday morning that only a small strip of Ili’s remained, while Ili Ili’s was already completely covered by lava.
“There was just a little strip of beach at Ili’s this morning and almost all of the forest out there was covered by lava,” said Nani Maloof of Puna. “That may be the saddest thing, all of the coconut trees and forest that is gone. It was such a pretty forest.”
Although it took some effort to get out to the beaches, they were appreciated by Hawaii Island residents as sandy beaches. Getting to Fox’s Landing involved a short drive through the 1991 lava flow, over the smooth pahoehoe lava, and then past short strips of old highway. The black sand beach was adorned by a backdrop of a variety of native plants as well as coconut and pandanus trees.
Maloof, who flew over the area by helicopter over the weekend said that Pele had again covered much of the area, as well more of the remaining strips of highway that lie in between the pahoehoe flow.
“It’s really sad,” said Kalindi Jacoby, who was raised in the area. She added: “It was such a pretty beach. Even though it was a drive and a hike out there it was one of the few sandy beaches we had over there.”
Beachgoers realized, however, that although the lava was destroying, it was creating at the same time.
“The lava was covering the land but also pouring straight into the ocean, so even though it was covering old sand it was making new sand at the same time,” Maloof said. “There will probably be some sand out there but no more trees, and it will be small compared to the old beach.”
The loss of the beach is just one of the concerns Puna residents have as each day lava creeps increasingly closer to homes that were built in the middle of the old lava flow. One Royal Gardens home was destroyed last weekend, and as of August 1, lava was reported to have crept extremely close to two more homes, said a resident of the nearby Kehena Subdivision, who did not want be named.
The loss of the beach to lava was even discussed in real time on Facebook over the weekend, with users of the social networking site posting status updates dedicated to the popular beach spots: “Goodbye to beautiful Fox’s Landing, it will be missed,” “Farewell beloved last beach of old Kalapana,” and “So sad, Fox’s is gone.”
For many who live in the area, it is not their first time losing something close to them to the lava’s path.
“There’s a lot of people going out there to say goodbye, and a lot more out there just watching the flow. I know some people who have been out there several times in the last week just to watch Pele’s progress and get as much of Fox’s as they can,” said River Rogers of nearby Kalapana Sea View Estates. “A lot of people who will be watching it this time around lost homes the first time. Pele took the whole area not that long ago, and she came back pretty quick.”