South Point at Ka Lae on the Big Island of Hawaii
The South Point at Ka Lae on the Big Island is basically that, meaning ‘the point’ in Hawaiian and is the southernmost area of the island. The southern most tip of the island is a historic area that is one of the first places the Polynesians traveled through to the islands with some of the temples, heiau and historic places around the region.
How to get to South Point
Drive down Hwy 11 from either Kona town or Downtown Hilo area and between mile markers 69 and 70 is a sign directing to the South Point area. The two-lane road to South Point passes through farm lands, macadamia nut groves and beautiful pasture land for around 12 miles until you reach the South Point area. You’ll notice the huge windfarms because of all the strong winds in the area. To the right, you’ll see the Komoa wind farms built in the 1980s but not operating anymore and rusting away slowly around the landscape. Close by you’ll also see the newer Tawhiri Power GE turbines with 14 wind turbines in the area. The road turns more into a single lane gravel and dirt road that heads out to a fork at mile marker ten, that you can either drive to the Green sand beach at Papakolea and the Kaulana boat ramp or continue on to the South Point area. The right fork continues on to South Point at Ka Lae which is a short drive to the end with the parking lot facing the cliff area.
History of the South Point Area at Ka Lae
This area has always been a popular spot for ancient Hawaiians to go for fishing which is a fertile fishing area. Because fishing was plentiful in the area, this site is one of the most feasible first areas of settlement of the Polynesians to Hawaii around 750 AD. You’ll find a lot of big fish to include mahimahi, tuna and snapper in the area. Huge wooden hoists are located along the cliffs and used to lower boats into the sea for fishing the area. Prior to these hoists, ancient Hawaiians bore holes into the rocks to secure ropes to boats below.
The entire area of South Point is in a National Historic Landmark with a variety of ancient heiau(temples), fishing shrines and other ancient relics.
Details to visiting South Point at Ka Lae
When you are parking, make sure to leave no valuables or anything in the car in view that can be broken into.
Although there are a lot of visitors that do jump from the cliffs and into the ocean, this is dangerous and landing in the ocean is always unpredictable along with climbing back up the cliffs.
The currents around South Point are strong and the only landmass south of the Big Island is Antarctica which is a long way off. The current’s have a name known as the “Halaea Current” and will sweep any
Daredevils diving the cliffs straight out to sea.
There is a metal light beacon on the left of the hoists that denote the actual southern most point of the island and work a walk through the cliff areas.
There is a rock wall close to the beacon that designates the Kalalea Heiau and is a spiritual spot and should be treated with respect so do not climb or sit on the fragile rocks and sacred site.
Visit the Green sand beach at Papakolea
The closest swimmable beach is Papakolea which is a 5-mile hike along the coastline from the parking lot area of Green Sand Beach. There are casual taxi pickup rides to Papakolea and back for a tip to the driver. Check out this point on visiting the Green sand beach at Papakolea here for more information to visiting the area.
Other places to explore around South Point and Kau district
Check out the Naalehu town area for small town vibe, food and conveniences
Visit the Black sand beach at Punalu’u
Explore and visit Volcano Village close to the national park
Visiting Papakolea beach at South Point Area
Have you visited South Point at Ka Lae?
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