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South Point, Big island…A Favorite Spot!

Ka Lae…South Point

I’m sure everyone who ever spent any time at all in Hawaii has a special place that they remember with fond memories.  Maybe its because I have strong memories of time spent fishing with my grandfathers, uncles, dad and sister, as well as with my two daughters…or maybe its just because it has such a raw beauty all its own, but my favorite spot is South Point, aka Ka Lae, on the Big Island.

For most, its nothing more than a blip on a map or in a travel brochure/guide that simply makes note of the fact that it is the southernmost point of the US.   (Key West is the southernmost of the contiguous 48 states, but South Point, is further south.)

The contrasting sight of the calm waters of Kona on one side and the turbulent, wind-whipped waters on the other, makes it an interesting place to visit.  Almost always windy, South Point has been the site of a World War II outpost, a former U.S. Army- then U.S. Air Force satellite-tracking station, and an abandoned wind-turbine farm, the Kamaoa Wind Farm.

Update:  As of March 29. 2012, Apollo Energy Corp., owners of the Kamaoa Wind Farm, announced that the dismantling of all 37 of the rusted remains of the Mitsubishi turbines will be completed by the end of the week.  The pieces will be stored on-site until a buyer for the scrap can be found.  Apollo Energy Corp. is also joint-owners of the Pakini Nui Wind Farm, which can be seen from South Point as you look back to the northwest.

South PointPapakolea, Green Sand Beach, Big Island

Left: South Point

Right: Mahana Bay







View along the way to Mahana Bay

Mahana Bay and Papakolea (Green Sand Beach)

It is also your gateway to the famous green sand beach.  “Back in the day”, before someone decided to add it to the tourists brochures, locals referred to it as Mahana Bay, or simply as Mahana.  Once it was “put on the map”, it now goes by its much longer Hawaiian-name Papakolea Beach.  (I admit, the first time I heard it called that was only a few years ago.)

Regardless of how you come to call it, it is the only green sand beach that I am aware of and even though it requires an hour to hour-fifteen minute hike to get to it, there are a surprising number of people who visit this once desolate beach.  (Once a favorite fishing spot of mine.)

Note:  If you decide to take the hike, please make sure you wear a hat, sunscreen, and a pair of sunglasses wouldn’t hurt either.  Just as, if not more, important is to remember to bring your own refreshments as there are no services in the area.  As a matter of fact, South Point is about 12-15 miles away from the nearest eatery in either Ocean View Estates or Naalehu.

On a visit, it during February 2010,  we had a sideshow of whale’s breaching off the coast as we made the trek there and back.   I remember making a plea for one of them to display a full breach as opposed to just the spray we were witnessing everywhere.

And, about half way back from our visit to Mahana Bay, we were not only treated to a full breach, but mom was followed seconds later by junior!  It was an awesome site that just made my day complete!

I hope you will find the time to visit South Point, rather than just drive-by the turn off.

Fare Buzz


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